Spring dreams

Susan Manzke

It is cold outside and blowing white. That means it’s the usual for February in Wisconsin. Still, I’m dreaming of spring. The first seed catalogs are here. They emphasize the changes that will happen to our landscape in a month or so, or so…..

Susan planting paper white bulbs.

To make the freezing time of year bearable, I’m planning on my future gardens, both vegetable and flower. The bright colors from future buds are vivid in my thoughts, as are the luscious, flavorful vegetables that will grow later this year.

For now, outside planting is far away, so I’m planting inside.

Late last fall, I brought in tubers from my cannas. They are still resting in our basement. I have not disturbed their winter nap yet.

Besides the cannas I saved bulbs to bring to life this mid-winter. I knew in November that I would need a boost in January and February to fight my winter doldrums. These bulbs are mostly tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth. They went to the bottom of our basement stairs where they would stay cool, but not frozen, until I was ready to wake them up.

The below zero temperatures outside decreed it was time for spring planting, at least a mock spring planting.

Bob and I had purchased some potting soil just for this day. That heavy bag, the waiting bulbs, and assorted pots were brought into the kitchen.

Terrarium with hens and chicks.

The first thing I planted, or I should say replanted, was a small globe terrarium. It had been a gift for my birthday in August. Too bad the little succulents that I had put inside hadn’t survived. I raided another houseplant, took three tiny chicks (hens and chicks plant), and put them inside the cute glass globe—fingers crossed that these survive this time.

Big bulbs went into pots next. These were my amaryllis. Beside the mother amaryllis were baby bulbs that grew last year—I probably should have started these sooner so I’d already have growing flowers, but I wanted them all to have a good rest before setting them out to grow again. Last year, most of the large bulbs didn’t flower so I wasn’t rushing to get them growing again. Maybe it was my fault that they hadn’t bloomed last winter.

Bob decided that the potting soil would be easier to handle if it was in a 5-gallon pail. Too bad the sticky soil didn’t slide out of the bag as we had hoped. PLOP! Some clots landed on the linoleum. Worst was the smell. My nose detected manure in the mix, but that smell also reminded me of spring.

Bob helping with potting soil.

Newspaper was under everything on the table where the potting was taking place. After everything was set for potting I thought maybe we should have done this in the basement. Too late now.

You might think I’m crazy, but I talked to the bulbs as I set them in place. I wished them well, and encouraged them to bloom. They are like my furry pets, only green.

When Bob and I were at Fleet Farm getting pet food, we walked past a discounted display from Christmas. I couldn’t help myself, I put one box of paper whites in our cart. These I planted today, too.

These paper white bulbs are eager to grow.

My hands were soon covered with the sticky (smelly) potting soil. Anticipation of the plants and flowers filled the room. (A few basil and coriander seeds went into a pot too.) All this activity took my attention away from the snow blowing outside our window. It was a great day.

Now I wait, water, and encourage our plants. Even if flowers don’t appear, growing green plants will pick up my spirits. In fact they already have.

If you didn’t get tulips ready to force this winter, you still could plant herb seeds or leftover Christmas bulbs like we did. By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165,