Shake your fist

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

OK, let’s get something straight about this snow-on-Peavine and gardening thing. I’ve been gardening in Nevada for a while, and I’ve only seen a couple of times where the axiom not to plant nightshades—peppers, eggplants, tomatoes—until the snow is off of Peavine was true.

Often, there’ll be a minute where the snow is gone, people will plant, and then there’ll be a freeze. Then there’s the long-lasting snowpack that will cut two weeks off the growing season if you wait until it’s gone to get your tomatoes in the ground.

I use the final frost date May 15, as my signal to plant. Rarely, I’ll get a feeling in my guts that tells me to plant early or hold off, and I’ll listen to it (sometimes). But I’ve only seen the May 15 date wrong twice that I recall, and the first was only a few springs ago. I’ve also seen snow on Mt. Rose on July 4, so I guess the only hard and fast rule is that if you plant vegetables in Nevada, expect to lose some sometimes.

That goes a long way toward making my point. I bought a few vegetables at the Food Co-op’s May 15 seedling sale, spending a lot more to buy open-pollinated seedlings locally. All the nightshades I bought there froze. Then I bought another set of plants at the Master Gardners’ May 22 seedling sale, and almost all were frost damaged. So, I’ve probably spent $60 already, and my garden’s about half as developed as it usually would be by now (although Hunter and I have been eating delicious broccoli and cauliflower for weeks).

It’s not losing the plants that’s difficult for me, but my new commitment toward growing local, open pollinated plants, so I can start collecting seeds. I have to start over each time, not just run to the local nursery. Still, I’ve got to admit I have almost as much fun cursing the weather as I do harvesting fruit.