Garden Planning Season

The nice thing about winter is that the wind roars, the rain pours, and all outdoors freezes over…

Jeesh – yes, I have really lost it.

I can handle darkness to a point, but right now, I am craving sunlight and warmth (and if you really loved me, you’d send me a ticket to a sandy beach where people drink fruity drinks with colored umbrellas in them…).

Let’s start over – the nice thing about winter is that you have an excuse to sit indoors where it is warm (instead of being outside freezing your living *** off!) and browse seed catalogs, read books, and plan for when things finally thaw. We all know spring officially starts the first of March, even though the weather might argue otherwise. We have to be ready for it. (Oops. March is already here. No time to lose!)

But the coming Ides of March is no reason to panic. Gardening, done right, or so they tell me, takes a lot of planning, and planning takes thinking time. Also a lot of math. I do a lot of planning and math when I figure out my garlic plots, and I almost always get it wrong (Would you believe I thought about being a math major once? Ha! Avoided a career disaster on that one!).

Actually, those who know me know I’m much too impulsive to believe that “fail-to-plan, plan-to-fail” malarkey.

Even so, all the experts tell us planning is key to a successful garden.

The point is, this is the time of year when many of us otherwise-very-reasonable people succumb to buying seeds for things we know we don’t have room for or can’t possibly grow in our zones. Things that are not in our Master Plan, whether it’s enumerated in a table, sketched out, or just a mental vision.

Seed companies have spent millions studying the psychology of all this and effectively strategize to capitalize on our weakest moments. Catalogs ideally start arriving sometime before the days start getting noticeably longer and at least a month before the spring equinox. Their arrival coincides precisely at the time when we, suffering in agony with viral cases of cabin fever, are in our jammies until noon, gorging on Snickers, and doing just about anything to kick the SAD blues (seasonal affective disorder – the name they’ve given for unbalanced people in the Northwest who are living under a dripping rock, growing moss between their toes, and threatening to turn their children into toads if they don’t croak first), and that “anything” includes impulsively buying Bodacious Corn and Beefsteak Tomato seeds.

Oh yes. It’s a real disease. It has its very own acronym. And those seed catalogs make the implausible seem so possible. I believe that I will swoon with the dense fragrance of jasmine, which will soothe my cares away on a soft summer night. And I confess that, yes, once again, I am counting on climate change to help me ripen those melons.

Those who live here know full well what I’m talkin’ about. What to do?

Simple. Resolve. This year, resolve to resist that compulsion to buy plants and seeds to create a fantasy world that can’t possibly exist. I mean, Get Real.

And Get Proactive:

  • Read good books to help you plan efficiently and make thoughtful decisions.
  • Take an inventory of what you have.
  • Conduct seed sprouting tests to make sure the seeds you have will still germinate.
  • Make a list of those things you actually need and have room for.
  • And THEN – and only then – browse catalogs or shop your local stores – and last but most important –
  • Stick to your lists. That’s key.

Who does this? Raise your hands.

I thought so.

I did take the first step, though.

(“Hi, Blythe. Welcome.”)

No, seriously. I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Getting ideas. Thinking about what worked and what didn’t in my garden and in my life – because who can separate the two? Thinking about what I might be able to create.  Thinking about my potential – I mean, my garden’s. Essentially, doing something contrary to my free-spirit nature: planning. Scheming, actually, but I’ll save that thought. In the process, I have completely transformed my thinking on how I want to garden and who I want to be – and believe me, this is major, because I’ve been gardening more or less all my life, and trying to be me all my life, and I’m approaching another decade anniversary, which should gain me some respect, but let’s not go there.

So – this is the introduction to a series of posts on book reviews. Some books I purchased; some I borrowed from the library or friends. All had something good to offer. New perspectives. Tips and pointers.

And my conclusion? Planning is good. (See? I told you this was transforming!) And this year is going to be the beginning of the best, most interesting, funnest garden ever. (Funnest?) Absolutely. Out of this world.

Oops. There we go again.

Keep it down to Earth. We ARE talking about earth, after all.

This is part-blog, part support group. Thank you for your emails and comments – keep them coming.

And as always, thanks for stopping in, and keep your antennas tuned.


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