Our weather continues to warm over time with typical spring-time tussles between warm and cool periods. The exuberant calls of the spring peepers from our pond can be heard day and night. Red wing blackbirds are nesting among the nine-tail reeds surrounding the pond and their trilling calls from the neighboring cedar trees and power lines contribute to the auditory delight that harkens the true arrival of spring.
When I was young, my adoptive father often said that you could tell when the early fickle whims of spring weather were winning the battle with winter after the first bout of “Indian Spring” occurred. He was an old-time weather observer, and he understood the patterns of our local Connecticut River Valley climate intimately. Although I have never heard the term “Indian Spring” mentioned in professional meteorology circles, it was a very real phenomenon to him, and I came to understand what he meant by it.
Indian Spring is considered to be the vernal counterpart of the more commonly recognized “Indian Summer.” As most people know, Indian Summer refers to a stretch of three or more consecutive days of 70-plus degree high temperatures that occur after the first hard freeze of the fall. My father recognized that the same phenomenon often occurs in the spring, before the final hard freeze of the winter season that marks the beginning of the growing season. Whenever we would experience an early spring period of three or more consecutive days of 70-degree or higher temperatures, he would conclude that it was time to prepare the garden and plant the heartiest vegetables, including peas, broccoli, onions, and cabbage. These plants can survive the remaining periodic frosts that occur in early spring, but become less frequent and harsh over time.
In our local climate here at Peeper Pond Farm, the final spring freeze that marks the start of the growing season typically occurs sometime around May 15, but can occur as late as the first day of summer. We feel it is usually safe to plant our early corn seeds during the first week of May, as they will not sprout from the ground (making them vulnerable to frost damage) until after May 15. According to our current weather forecast, we are in the second of the first three-day period of 70+ degree temperatures of the year. Yesterday’s high temperature was 71 degrees and as I am writing this post, our current temperature is 67 degrees. If the forecast is correct, we will experience our first “Indian Spring” of the year tomorrow.
Having placed our confidence in the meteorologists, we are working to prepare our vegetable and herb gardens for the ritual spring planting. We have purchased our seeds, mapped out our garden plots, tested the pH of our soil, spread wood and pellet stove ashes in the planting areas that require amending, and begun tilling the soil to mix and loosen it for planting. With any luck, we will have planted all our early season vegetables before the end of the day tomorrow. This is the most exciting time of the year when we can stretch our sleepy muscles and enjoy the scent of fresh spring air. It feels good to be spending more time outside after the long, cold winter. We don’t know if you have experienced Indian Spring where you live yet, but if you haven’t, we hope it arrives soon. We wish everyone a wonderful and colorful spring, and we look forward to seeing all our friends at the Grant County Farmers Market in Petersburg this summer, when we can finally share the bounty of our farm with you.