“and it’s spring
when the world is puddle-wonderful”
   e.e. cummings

I don’t know about you, but I have a couple of places in my field each spring where the puddles are not wonderful to me. However, this poem, ‘Chansons Innocentes: I’ certainly is all that and more. Just saying the phrase “mud-luscious” makes me smile.
Happy spring, everyone, we made it! By this time I am getting truly, seriously busy, and here in southern New England the hardiest souls in the greenhouse have been kicked out to the pallets to “harden off”, while their spots in the sun are filled in a heartbeat. Breathe in, breathe out: it all seems to matter so much right now, as so many crops are set up for a whole season of blooms in April and the weather is just sooo variable. I have been doing a fair amount of what I call “custom growing” this spring, mostly for garden designers who want to put in cutting gardens, but also some containers and hanging baskets, so my purlins and benches have lots more blooming going on than I’m used to. I have turned to this for some nice spring income, and it’s a job I enjoy.
Another job I finished up in early March is the annual, fabulous, workroom re-organization. I made some structural changes in my little stone barn this winter, and now I have more space than ever to fill with buckets. I really recommend an annual overhaul of your space, even if it is a tarp under a tree. The time saved in having everything at hand and easy to use is pure profit. My husband and I do a fall “walkabout” and note down everything that we wish worked more smoothly. Then we have, in theory, months to make everything perfect. This winter we made a few good improvements: we took away a section of wall to make the traffic flow smoother, added dust-free vase storage and screwed some other vase shelves to the wall (oh so safer). Other years, a new shelf or better access to the bucket washing materials is as good as it gets. Even if all you do is a thorough cleaning it feels really good to be ready for the harvest season. If you have a walk-in cooler, don’t forget a thorough cleaning in there, ceiling too (that gets the triceps ready for bucket lifting).
Speaking of heavy lifting, I have been planning the summer regional event. The meeting for the Northeast region is on the coast again, here in Rhode Island. I am still waiting for confirmation from a couple of presenters, but the date is tentatively July 21, 2008. If you want to come down a day early and get some beach time in, it is fine to camp at my place or I can give you some good places to stay in the area. We have some great folks and talks lined up, and more in the planning. We’ll do a tour of the best and one of the oldest composting operations on the East Coast (in our humble opinion), along with a Q&A about soil health with the master, Mike Merner. I’m thinking on a roundtable session about “mixing up the marketing” and reaching new customers in a dicey economy, and we’ll finish up with a potluck at Robin Hollow Farm, featuring locally harvested shellfish and great veggies. There will be more items as well in the program brochure. In case you’re wondering, my farm is 10 minutes from fabulous beaches, and 15 minutes from the lovely Newport, RI. Hope to see you there! As always, I would love to hear from you with suggestions.