The Winter Garden

Last evening a friend sent me a message, “saving some of those tomato seeds for you.” My mind rushed ahead to the beginning of March. Flats of seedlings under lights in the greenhouse and watching the garden beds reappear as the snow melts. For a second, I smelled the essence of spring. And then the curtains came down again, and I was back in January.

Now look, I’ve behaved till now. The pile of garden catalogs I guiltily stare at every day remains unmolested. I swear that it was only by accident that I looked at the new products section of the Lee Valley site and saw the new gardening goodies they have. It was an accident.
For now, the catalogs are more clutter. But clutter that can’t be moved to recycle. So, in all truth, I’ll buy from the same three or so seed dealers, and the other catalogs will then find their way to recycle, but not until all the pages of gaudy plants in beautiful settings have been viewed, seed qualities compared, and many dreams made.
As the pressure within builds up and the damned white stuff piles up, I’ll reach a point where I’ll sit with the accumulation of catalogs scattered around me. My wife has never said it, but I assume that there is a sort of maniacal gleam in my eye. I get up, walk to the window. Do a fast calculation. If the neighbor’s house did not shade that particular garden patch, that plant would work. But, no, it won’t do. Then back to the catalogs.

I take out the wood ash from the stove and distribute it over the snow-covered garden beds in the morning. After dreaming all night of this year’s garden, I am already thinking about placement and replacement. What to buy, and what to abandon. And every year there will be one or two wild experiments, just to see what happens.

It’s the annual voyage of discovery.

9 Replies to “The Winter Garden”

  1. …oh, the torment of having to hold back placing seed in growing medium too soon! I started tomatoes in February one year, and they soon outgrew the space in the planter stand and were ready to plant in the garden two months before last frost where I live! They were quite ready to go into the garden when the time came, and I had the best tomato year ever that year despite my ill-advised early start.

    I see you have those water tent thingies. My plants were too tall to be safe inside those tents or I would have planted them at least a month earlier than normally safe in the garden.

    Don’t think the idea and how burying the tomatoes deeper than normal – which would have assured a bigger, better root system! – could work didn’t occur! Boy, that was a rough year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doug, I salvaged those plastic tent things from electronics packaging. But the year I took that photo was the first year that I started to use the cold frames outside the greenhouse. I got those cheap on Amazon, caulked them added corner reinforcement, and away we went.
      Like you I don’t mind if they get leggy – I just pant them deeper or sideways so the root system grows out.
      By the Way, catnip is now one of my weed plants thanks to Xenia rubbing, rolling, and generally aiding in the spread of it.

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      1. I can imagine you do have a catnip “problem” now! LOL! I planted a well-grown catnip plant outside one time, and a neighbor cat had it “murdereded” within minutes of me putting it in the grouind. I planted another lightstand-grown catnip later, put it in a chicken wire cage, and the same cat just reached in the cage and destroyed it just as effectively as he’d destroyed the uncaged one! I eventually grew the outside catnip from a hanging basket on the patio. No more cat problem, though they’d be waiting on the patio when I came out, and I’d give them some catnip on m terms! (I was new to cats back then.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sorry to take a while to get back.
        Nothing keeps a cat determined to get nip from the nip. Our original greenhouse was one of those plastic jobbies they sell in the big box stores. the neighborhood cats used it as a party tent. It was them who spread the seeds on their fur all around the yard. We’d hear them partying at night in the greenhouse. All they needed was a disco ball and some loud cat music.

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    1. I’ll give in and start at the beginning of February with my lettuce, spinach, and kale – I can get those into the greenhouse in March, and into the cold frames on April one. Cheap cold frames from amazon are great with just a bit of improvement.

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