Monday morning, I picked the last of the curly endive and mache from the bed that had held these hardy greens all winter. That same afternoon, I forked up the soil, raked in a little compost and set out starts of lettuce, radicchio, fennel, broccoli and cauliflower I’d seeded indoors a month ago. The day was sunny, the air was soft; spring had definitely edged out winter and it was wonderful to be kneeling next to a bed, hands in the dirt, planting.
Harvesting the last of winter crops in the morning and planting spring crops in the afternoon is one of the pleasures of kitchen gardening this time of year. It will be weeks before these little starts will be the size of the greens I harvested that day, but it’s the cycle of planting and growing beginning again that gives pleasure.
Noticing winter crops giving way to spring seeding and growth happens a lot this time of year. I pulled the last of the celery roots the other day, big, gnarly, thick-skinned but still sweet globes, and in a day or two I’ll plant a flat of tiny seeds for next year’s crop. There are a few big potatoes still to eat but there’s also a tray of small potatoes greening up for planting soon. The jar of dried tomatoes is nearly empty but sturdy new tomato plants are ready for the greenhouse. There’s one bag of storage onions left but the fragile green threads of next year’s onions are already growing, and though there’s only one more garlic bulb in the bin the green shafts of the new crop are growing taller each day.
These are the reassuring patterns that delight kitchen gardeners as spring begins.