By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Spring rush!
Drift from a Driftless Place
JOHN GIBBS finished up his western adventures at a Farm-n-Fleet in Las Vegas, browsing the hat section. He'd been on the lookout for a good cowboy hat, and no surprise, he found his dream chapeau in the Wild, Wild West.

GAYS MILLS - I’ve been planning to write about the advent of spring, those early signs of season change, the harbingers that we all wait for. But I’ve waited too long.

Things have begun to pop. I saw a mosquito yesterday, there are raccoons and possums on the roadways, the maple syrup run is over, the robins are back along with Canada geese, Sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds and many others.

Lawns are being raked and I did see one lawnmower being used. There have been controlburns in the ditches and prairies and the pastures are greening up.

All we need now is that first thunderstorm to really paint the landscape green. Something about the lightening ‘fixing’ nitrogen in the air and lightly fertilizing every kind of plant available. 

Did you know that air is composed of 78 percent nitrogen? But it takes a lightning bolt of electricity to get a little of it to fall to earth.

I’ve lived here long enough not to get too excited yet. Spring in Wisconsin is a long slog and the planting guide tells us that the last frost date here is between May 21 and June 1, almost two months away.

Traditionalists have already planted potatoes which are to be in the ground on Good Friday.

I’ve learned to wait until later to plant spuds in an effort to thwart potato bugs. Other ‘early stuff,’ like lettuce, radishes, broccoli, carrots, kale, and peas can be planted by mid-April in our area (Zone 4).

I recently received a very generous gift from my friend Jerry Quebe, who is moving from the area. It is a germination station complete with pods for individual seeds, trays for the pods, heating pads, clear plastic domes for the trays, and hanging lights. And, a nice metal rack on wheels to hold everything. It’s quite a setup and Jerry included books on starting seeds, plant labels, fertilizer, and many packets of seeds. 

The Wisconsin Vegetable Growing chart recommends starting plants indoors in such an outfit six to eight weeks before the last expected frost. So, my gardening season is starting early this year.

Another busy activity for me every year is my Good Wood enterprise. For several years now, I have had campfire wood available for sale to campers or folks for backyard bonfires. The sideline grew from the years I used to make charcoal. 

I get hardwood slabs from area sawmills, cut it in lengths to fit the boxes, and split it for easy burning. I finally settled on packaging the wood in banana boxes after trying other ways of tying the wood in bundles with baler twine or wrapping it in plastic.

The boxes offer a generous amount of wood and the box can be burned, reused, or recycled.

Good Wood is available at the Marketplace in Gays Mills, about a half mile from my house. I love that short supply chain.

One rare thing I guess we can “look forward” to, or at least anticipate soon, is the arrival of our share of BILLIONS of cicada. Maps show that we are on the far northwestern edge of the suspected invasion. Get your ear plugs ready for this noisy, once in 17 to 20 year phenomenon.