Don't let Mother Nature fool you into planting early

By PEGGY SIMS,

This is the first week in the "Spring" month, March. 

My redbuds, azaleas, "Jesus Trees" - dogwoods, yellow bells, star magnolia and all my day lilies are budded and ready to put on their magnificent show of colors. Our peach trees and plum trees at our farm are so full of promised fruits that I am already planning my cobblers and jellies. 

Then Mother Nature shows her funny side. We have freezing-cold weather for three days in a row, the exact amount off hours below freezing to annihilate all the beautiful Easter egg colors blooming for the holiday. 

Mother Nature is an enigma.

As soon as she deceived us into believing it is spring, we began to break up our garden spots and plant our seeds in the little paper pots to begin germination. I know I get all excited and get ahead in my timing and plant too early. Then I cover, uncover, pull inside, pull outside for several weeks, trying to save the tender vegetation. Our last frost is usually around April 12, so my farm calendar states. That seems late to me, but I am the one who jumps the gun every year.

My granddaddy did not read and plant according to the Farmer's Almanac. HE was the Farmer's Almanac. He had planted, tended and harvested more crops of vegetables than I will ever see in my lifetime. Dressed in his warm felt winter hat and striped overalls, he always had his cabbage, carrots and lettuce plants ready to hit the cold earth by the middle of February. His red potatoes were hidden deep beneath the soil at this time also.

I can remember my grandmother following along behind him with her long hair tucked underneath the big broad-brimmed bonnet with the cardboard stays, dropping seeds of corn in the chilly mornings of late February and early March. 

They grew all their vegetables. There was no Sunflower to run to if you needed a salad for your supper.

Then usually, around the first to the middle of March, would be "hog killing time." I was only there for one of these events and I decided then and there I would not be a butcher. I can remember the day being really cold and an outside fire was built to warm ourselves. I can remember backing up to these short hot logs many times during the morning. 

They would ask friends and family to come and help them as they prepped this pork for canning, salting down, and smoking. The pay offered helpers was always some of the meat. I remember the "chitterlings" being the most disgusting part of the prep.

My brother says it thundered around February 21 so there will be a cold spell April 21, which is Easter Sunday. So, hold off on breaking up your gardens and planting those tender plants.

We love cabbages and usually plant several. This is one of our favorites with cabbage.

Cabbage and Smoked Sausages

Shred pieces of the cabbage with a knife and set aside. 
Take one large onion and a small bell pepper, and three slices of bacon and dice and brown in an iron skillet. 
Lay the cabbage on top and stir well. Sprinkle with salt and garlic/pepper.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is mostly tender.
Add cut up smoked sausages on top and cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. 
I serve crunchy cornbread and homemade lime pickles for serving.