Finding the green

Susan Manzke, Wisconsin State Farmer
Columnist Susan Manzke sprouts greens in her kitchen as she bids her time waiting for spring to arrive.

Meteorological spring started March 1st, but that spring date doesn’t usually fit Wisconsin weather. Even astronomical spring, March 20, 2017, may not really mark the beginning of spring for us.

As I prepared to write today I checked the weather forecast for the next ten days. Temperatures ranged from a low of 12 to a high of 52 degrees, with both rain and snow predicted; that’s quite a range and so far out even the weather forecasters won’t take bets if they are correct or not.

With a spring tease of 65 degrees here mid-February my spring fever really took hold. I would love to have more days like that, but I’m willing to wait. When spring comes too early crazy things happen.

In 2012, we had days warm enough that our fruit trees blossomed. Then a frost came and zap, it froze them all. No apples or pears for us that year. Even if the blossoms survived, there were no bees around to pollinate them that early so we wouldn’t have had much anyway.

Last spring, we were hit by another late frost. Our trees were at their peak and then in one night they were gone — another bummer — examples why that even though I enjoy warm days, I do not want them to come too early.

A flower catalog came in the mail last week and sent my spring fever flying. I have been yearning for the color green since Christmas. Knowing that my desire for green comes every winter, I keep some house plants around. But they are not enough to get me through the long months. I need more.

For extra green I went to the kitchen. Some time ago, I sprouted alfalfa seeds. This was fun and didn’t take much effort, just seeds and a bit of water to moisten them. Soon there were sprouts and we got to eat them! Well I ate them. Bob thought I was crazy eating grass.

Next in my effort to bring green into our winter doldrums came the stub end of a stalk of celery. All I did with that was set it in water. In a few days little bits of green growth peeked out of the center. In no time, a tiny tree-like plant popped up. I especially liked this form. It made me smile.

My plant should now be put in soil. I kept my first celery plant too long in water and it went all mushy and died. But by then I had another celery end to plant and I started anew, growing the pretty green of summer in the depths of winter.

Just this week we had fresh avocados for guacamole. I remembered sprouting these giant pits when I was a kid. I didn’t eat avocado back then, but Mom loved them. She was the one who suggested growing an avocado tree. Of course, we never got fruit from our tree, but just the same we enjoyed it.

I now have two pits in water, hoping at least one will grow. Three toothpicks hold the upper half of the pit out of the water. Now I just have to make sure that I keep water at the proper level in the cup.

My amaryllis bulbs were planted late. I should have flowers by now, but even the green leaves make me happy. I am not a houseplant expert by far. I explored the internet for suggestions on how to grow what I have. Books will also give answers too. Check some out at the library.

Having house plants helps me survive winter. Of course they aren’t as good as having a blooming garden outside. Still they do in a pinch.

Spring will come in its own time. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy what I have. At least I can see green, even if it’s just in my kitchen.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;