It’s official…

Today marks the Vernal Equinox – that moment when the Earth’s axis points neither towards nor away from the sun and we celebrate the first day of spring.

It is, officially, spring.

Here in Ottawa, March is a winter month. Temperatures hover around freezing, dipping well below some days, and climbing to 3 or 4 degrees C on nice days. Sometimes, we will see a high of 10 or so, but there is no doubt that March is still the tail end of winter, even if the calendar announces it is spring.

And yet, this year, it feels like spring. I know, logically, that I shouldn’t be looking for the tender green spears of plants coming out of the earth. I shouldn’t be admiring what will shortly be tulips and daffodils. I shouldn’t be pushing a spade deep into the earth to test how warm the soil is. Not yet. Not until May. March and May both start with M-a but the resemblance usually ends there. March is for snow and ice and freezing rain. May is for sunshine and green grass and flowers.

Mother nature has gotten her months mixed up, it seems.

Outside, the sun is shining, the grass is greening up, and little spears that will soon be flowers are poking through the dirt everywhere I look. The fact that our temperatures have been in the 20’s for the past few days and are expected to hit 29 with the humidex this afternoon, and 31 tomorrow… Well, the fact that we evenhave a humidex instead of a snowfall warning is shocking enough for me.

Even the trees are budding out. Our lovely wintery willow tree…

Has broken out in a fine red mist of buds:

According to all the gardening wisdom I’ve ever heard, here in Ottawa, you never, ever, ever plant anything in the ground before the May 24th weekend. Never. Did I say never? Let me say it again: n-e-v-e-r.

I rarely listen.

In theory, I like following rules. I follow rules a lot, according to The Man We Call Dad, and I really, really don’t like to break them. Except when I’m baking. Or sewing. Or gardening, apparently. You would think that I would be a little more cautious, given how not one but both of my in-laws are fabulously talented when it comes to growing things, and are always sharing their knowledge (and plants, lucky me!), and they always say to never plant before the end of May. But no, I inevitably give in to the urge to dig sometime around Mother’s Day.

Not this year. No, no, no. This year, I’ve been planning. I’ve been plotting. I’ve been reading oh so many books all winter. Already, the little greenhouse we’ve installed in the breakfast nook is sprouting up all sorts of good things to be planted sometime in May. Some are getting quite large and have been moved out of the greenhouse and into pots. With the warm weather, I’ve set them out on the deck to soak in the sun and harden off a bit.

The scarlet runner beans and Kentucky Wonder beans are enjoying it (and growing speedily!), as are the raspberries:

I’ve also been reading a lot. I want to expand our food garden, you see, and I want to try to get a slightly better timing for the harvest, so I’ve been reading about succession planting and cold frames and greenhouses and all sorts of other wonderful techniques for extending the harvest. Like this one:

Pop-bottle cloches. In other words, miniature greenhouses for individual plants. They look so cute, sparkling with condensation in the morning sun:

Before you ask, No, I did not plant things in the garden on the very first day of spring.

I planted them the day before the very first day of spring.

(They’re sunflowers, started indoors last week, for those of you who are curious about such things.)

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