Visions of Spring Dancing in my Head


I have visions of spring gardening dancing in my head for real. Today is sunny but cold, only a high of 23o F. Spring doesn’t reach the zone we are in, 4b, until sometime in May. However, the dreaming goes on and with it, semi-plans memorized or put onto paper (or into a computer).

During my dreaming time this morning, I got out two of my favorite pieces of garden helps. The first one is a garden planner that I got from Hoss Tools. What I love about it is that I can easily see the best date to start most plants for transplanting. I tend to start peppers and onions sooner, as they take forever to grow. I am fortunate because we have a greenhouse, albeit a small one. If you don’t have a greenhouse, don’t despair. You can use a sunny windowsill and rotate your plants daily (the plants will try to reach for the sun and will need to be turned so they can grow uniformly and not get leggy).

The planner also has first outdoor planting dates. We get our last frost sometime around the end of May. Most people up here don’t plant frost sensitive stuff until June 1 at the earliest. I am always in a hurry and put seeds in the ground about the 25th of May. Frost doesn’t hurt plants that haven’t emerged from the ground yet. For assurance this year, I have purchased fleece ground cover for the early days. In the past, we have used buckets and blankets to cover plants. The blankets always crushed plants and the buckets worked as long as we remembered to put a rock on each one. One drawback to using the row cover or blankets is that frost can often still make it to the plants if the covering is touching the plants. I wish I had known that when I was younger.

This planner also has companion planting ideas, such as putting pumpkins, melons, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, peas, and beans in the same area. I am planting my friend’s heirloom parsnips (seeds passed down for generations in her family) this spring. I have never grown them before. There is no parsnip setting on the planner, so I will assume they can be treated like carrots. I watched a YouTube video by Charles Dowding on the subject of planting parsnips. I recommend it highly.

Something else that I like to pull out each spring or late winter is This Shumway’s Handy Culture Book and Canning recipes.

I have no idea when this was published!

My dad had a dairy farm in Indiana for years and this was his booklet. He always ordered his garden seeds from Shumway and he swore by that company. When my dad passed into Heaven in 2020, I inherited most of his farm and garden books. I absolutely love the advice this booklet gives. Keeping on the parsnip theme, here’s an example:

The Parsnip requires a rich soil and frequent cultivation. Parsnip seed being slow to germinate it is advisable to mix a little Turnip shaped Radish seed with it before planting. The Radish will be up in a few days, allowing Parsnip to sprout more freely. In small beds lay a flat board over the rows for about a week, this will hold moisture and prevent ground from caking, insuring satisfactory results.

The canning recipes in the back are pretty much in the form of a canning table. I think a lot of the guidelines concerning safe canning have changed a bit over the years. However, it’s still interesting. And speaking of interesting, I think the ads in the booklet give an clue as to how old this booklet really is:

An ad in Shumway’s Handy Culture Book and Canning Recipes

I hope you can get out there and get a garden started this year, whether it is a tiny one or a very large one. And don’t forget to dream.


Published by Jeff and Rita

Rita is a wife, mother, homesteader, library branch manager, and freelance writer. She enjoys spending time in the garden and later preserving the harvest. Gardening, knitting, tending to chickens and other critters, and taking long summer walks are among her favorite activities. Jeff has had a long time love of waterfowl and gamebirds. He spends his time working full-time as a medical courier when he is not enjoying his collection of wild ducks and pheasants from around the world.

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