My head knows that this warm weather is not really Spring and it will probably snow again this season, but my heart still wants to believe it is here or at least really close. We have had a few really nice warm days, snow is melting rapidly in 50+ degree weather, a few flocks of geese have passed overhead, a few brave (or slightly crazy) robins have come back, the sun in shining and the river ice is slowly breaking up. This does give us a lot of mud……. gooey, slimy, slip and fall in it kind of mud. I speak from past experience on that one! If you are careful navigating across the yard it is not so bad and if you look up at the beautiful blue sky instead of down at the mud, it is not bad at all! Probably something I should remember when it comes to more than mud.
We have entered that time of year where the promise of spring, dreams of gardening, and the arrival of seed catalogs all collide to make the perfect storm. I have to say that some part of that storm might be my own fault…okay, it is my own fault. About a month or so ago seed catalog advertisements started showing up in my email and on my Facebook page. Most of them told me all I had to do was go to their websites and fill out my information and they would send me a FREE catalog. This was for an actual paper, hold it in your hands kind of seed catalog. One that you can look at over and over till the pages get to looking well worn and you can tell which pages you looked at a lot. I don’t know about you, but I find it really difficult to pass up a free item. And the fact that they were seed catalogs was even better!
The catalogs soon began to arrive in our mailbox. Gurneys (complete with great coupons on the front), Jung, Burpees, Musser Forest (not sure why I sent for that one; maybe it was that word free….) and Baker Heirloom Seeds, to name a few. Have you seen the pictures in those catalogs? They are amazing! Bright red, beautiful tomatoes, perfect green beans, lettuce varieties I have never heard of, sugar snap peas and the list goes on. Every plant they show is in perfect condition and not a blemish on the produce. There is not a weed in sight or a squash bug or those irritating voles that eat your potatoes. In fact, they have an entire section dedicated to the coolest tools to help make your gardening a breeze and to help start all those plants from seed. It is a great boost to the dreams of gardening and visions of gardening perfection.
Then I venture into the fruit section and start dreaming where can I put a strawberry bed? And just look at those apple trees and cherry trees…..we should get some of those too. And hey! what about blueberries….they would be great in pancakes. I can see them all preserved, and sitting on my shelves in shiny glass mason jars or put up into nice Ziploc freezer bags in my freezer. Nowhere does it mention or even hint at the man hours needed to get those fruits and veggies to that wonderful edible state. It does not mention the backaches, the bug bites, the sweating, the hoeing and finally the time spent picking, and picking and picking some more green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes………. I am actually grateful those catalogs do not mention the downside. I kind of like to be in that perfect garden bubble and would like to maintain that slightly euphoric state for as long as I can! There is a lot to be said for being an optimist.
I set out to make my list of what I want to put in my garden this year. You have to have the basics – beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage and melons. It is also fun to add in some summer squash, eggplant, hot peppers, and whatever. And hmmmm, I wonder what I could grow that the chickens would like? At some point, reality sets in and I remember we are empty nesters and I also remember that we do have weeds, squash bugs, potato beetles, and those irritating voles that eat your potatoes. I also remember, some of those days are going to be hot and sticky humid Iowa days. So I hold myself back, sort of, when picking out my seeds.
I haven’t yet purchased my seeds but this is going to be the week. I am making my list of seeds I want to try, how many bags of seed starting soil I will need, and checking to make sure I have enough starter pots. My dad always had a saying that he would use when my he and mom took us out for a buffet meal. He would always tell us “Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach.” In other words don’t put more on your plate that you can eat. It is really hard to remember that bit of wisdom when I am purchasing my garden supplies. I already know that I will plant more than I can use, but there are always people willing to take the extras. I know I will can more jars of salsa, beans, tomato soup, pizza sauce and so on than I need, but my kids have shelves that I can fill and they don’t seem to mind a bit. For me that is half the fun of gardening – sharing the produce and making summer last through the winter. If I can figure it out right; that produce will last until the next garden begins to produce and I can start to refill all the jars we emptied this past year.
What are some of your favorite things to start from seed for your gardens? Do you struggle with pests like I do and how do you handle that? Please feel free to let me know! I would love to know what works for you.
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.