Barnhardt column: Spring is the favorite season for a reason 

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 11, 2021

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Ahhh. Spring is just around the corner.


As we enjoy the warm weather this week, our minds wander. Fresh, warm air. Light breezes, bringing the intoxicating smell of blooming wisteria. Trees bursting with new leaves. Birds happily flitting about, looking for food for their new brood. Sunshine that warms not only the body, but the soul as well.

Yes, spring. The season that brings us from those cold and dreary days of winter to the renewal of life. It’s no wonder that a Gallup poll said Americans favor spring as their favorite season, 36% compared to the runner up, fall at 27%. It has been America’s favorite season since the 1940s, probably longer than that, but polls (thank goodness) weren’t around back then. And it makes sense that among young adults, summer outpaces spring as the favorite season. I can only figure the reason is they still look good in a bathing suit.

Fast forward a month, and we could be barefoot and digging in the dirt, hoping, no, knowing, that this tomato plant will produce the best tomatoes ever. We can already taste that first tomato sandwich, with its sweet and tart juices flowing from the corners of our mouths.

Winter days at our house are often spent perusing through plant and seed catalogs. Usually, I wait until the last minute to place my order, wondering if the seeds will be here in time for my planting schedule.

This year, I didn’t wait. I went head first into the Baker Creek and Sow True catalogs in January. I picked out my favorites — ones I know have produced well in the past — as well as a couple of new oddities never tried before. And by early February, I was ready to place my order.

The internet makes this easy. Just go to the company’s website, pick out your seed packs, fill out a little bit of information and within a week or two, the seeds arrive in your mailbox.

Even though I completed the task earlier this year, things didn’t go as planned. I had decided to place most of my order (at least for the varieties they carry) with Sow True, a North Carolina company that sells organic seeds. My favorite cucumber? Sold out. My favorite lettuce blend? Sold out. My favorite radish? Sold out. My favorite beet? Sold out.

What? It’s early February, folks. And beets?

So I went to the Baker Creek website. I saw the same message more times than I wanted. Sold out.

A friend had a similar problem shopping from the Burpee catalog. Sold out.

I had heard that more people were gardening as a result of COVID-19. For one, they had more time on their hands to do chores around the house, including gardening. For two, they realized that gardening is therapeutic — for the mind and the body. For three, they realized that vegetables fresh from your own garden are not only leaps and bounds better than what’s available at the local grocery, they’re also better than what your neighbor grows and brings you baskets full of every year.

There’s just something about growing your own food that is satisfying.

I’m not predicting a serious seed shortage here, but it could happen. Local stores sell seeds, and I’ve bought some from them. Maybe not the exact rare variety I had hoped for, but a cucumber just the same. Maybe not the variety I have grown to love, but a summer squash just the same.

Back to spring. It’s really somewhat unpredictable around here. We can have 70 degrees in March, and freeze in April. We can have a drought, or more likely, not even be able to work the ground because it is too wet. (Cue to new gardeners, get the ground ready as soon as you can these days, waiting could only prolong your planting date.)

I’m spending one of these 70-degree dry days this week planting radishes, beets and lettuce. Too early? Maybe, but I’ll save seeds for a second planting. It’s hard to eat or can everything at once, anyway.

And I’ll bet those Detroit Dark Red beets I purchased will be just as good — no, optimism rules — better than the Bull’s Blood I had hoped for. And that Rocky Top lettuce blend will have to wait for another year — maybe more — it depends on the quality of this Mesclun mix I’m planting. After all, any gardening is better than no gardening.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.