A most uninspiring month. So I’ve combed through wintry quotes and nah–let’s think spring. Time to peruse my burgeoning stack of seed/plant catalogs and ponder what to plant where, after sorting through the seed saved from last year–of course. Many heirloom varieties reseed themselves outside with no help from me, but a number get their start in my little greenhouse. It’s a happy place, but chilly, as it depends solely on the sun for warmth. I can plug in a space heater, rather costly to run, so don’t much. Built against a hill on the side of the barn near the dairy, the greenhouse is barricaded from bitter northeast winds. That leaves wicked westerly blows and general chilliness.
When the temperature consistently hovers above 20 or so at night, I’ll get out in the heating mats that go beneath the pots. Some are improvised from yogurt/cottage cheese containers filled with Pro-Mix, my favorite soiless potting medium, and my chosen seeds. Bottom heat aids germination in such a cool greenhouse. I also start tuberous begonias and other bulbs. Most anything that appeals to me. The hardy seeds are planted first.
(Pics of seeds and me in the greenhouse from last season taken by daughter Elise. She and the grandbabies are my garden assistants. She’s the biggest help by far, but some of the little people try hard.)
Years ago, hubby dug back into an unused concrete receptacle that once contained cow manure, located in the bank the greenhouse is built against. His goal: to create a dark root cellar. Turns out the sides and ceiling leak, so we have what we term ‘the grouch pond’ after Oscar the Grouch of Sesame Street fame. The kids thought the unintended pond would appeal to him. Oscar likes broccoli and liver flavored ice cream and lives in a garbage can, so why not? I’ve tried gold-fish in the grouch pond, and the occasional frog hops up from the large farm pond in the meadow, and I’ve added water plants. Some of the plants survived. It needs new fish.
We’ve started vegetable gardens around the greenhouse in the last few years and found tomatoes and pumpkins thrive there. Some vigorous vines trail up over the greenhouse and the bank. Orange globes appear in unlikely places, which is part of the fun for zealous pumpkin fans such as we. This year we shall have the best pumpkins, the loveliest, most fragrant herbs and flowers, the tastiest vegetables, and sweetest berries. EVER. Our own mini Eden.
I actually believe this and work toward accomplishing it every year. Amazing, really, how undaunted I am. My gardening triumphs keep me going, and the less than stellar results of my efforts fade into the background during the long winter months. Snowy blasts, icy rain, and endless mud combine to bury any discouraging recollections. All are blotted out. Only the glory shines bright, beckoning me to strive once again for the best gardening season ever.
The many seed and plant companies I patronize count on this near religious fervor to keep me and countless other gardeners coming back with new orders each year. The worse the winter, the more orders I zap their way. Last year, I was so demented during the long winter, I sent off a LOT. In return, I received box after box from UPS deliveries in the spring. Where to tuck all this bounty in was a challenge. But now, I wonder, what if I seed the entire front yard in wild flowers? How glorious that would be. Sigh. Dream.
I have some vague memory of weeds and quack grass contending with whatever I plant, but in my mind’s eye I see only the wonder of it all.
(Images of Shirley Poppies and my grandbaby Chloe smelling flowers in the garden taken by Elise.)