Hmmmm.... feels like Spring, doesn't it?
Well, my plants will sure think so.
The snow is all but gone, and there is mud everywhere. We took full advantage yesterday evening, wearing our boots for a puddle-splashing walk around town.
It is February Thaw, when the earth telegraphs a message to every plant in my garden that it's time to wake up! ... but the Winter is far from over.
The snowdrops and crocuses will foolishly start poking their heads out of the ground. If the thaw lasts more than a week, they may be joined by the tips of my tulip bulbs. Grape Hyacinth mounds from last year are already up and greening, even though we won't see blooms on them for another two or three months.
As a gardener, I have to force myself NOT to get out my rake and peek at my carefully tucked-in beds of bulbs. It is so tempting to get outside and get muddy cleaning up all the winter debris from the last few months.
But I know better. Regardless of the gentle blush of green the grass holds, the shrubs are still sleeping. The robins haven't arrived. I know it's best to wait and keep all the beds well-mulched.
It is so hard to be patient.
I have been taking daily tours of the garden. The only signs of life come from the indestructibles. The ground-covers -- creeping charlie and goldilocks. Some of my strawberries are peeking out, too. But my large perennials, my sage and azalea and lavender and clematis are all bare. They are survivors, waiting until the warmth feels real and lasting.
All that's left for an impatient gardener to do is to peek at seed catalogs instead of the garden. I use a few companies that cater to areas with cold-winter climates. My favorite is Johnny's Selected Seeds in Maine.
When I think about what I want to plant, it helps to make a diagram of my garden space and to think about what worked or didn't work last year. Since times are tougher these days, I think I will devote more garden space to vegetables and less to ornamental plants. So I'll make a list of what I want or need to move and diagram how much space I have in sunny, part-sunny, and shady locations.
As I look at seeds, I will think about what will mature early, mid-season, and late. I'll do my best to arrange my plantings one after the other, to make the most of my garden space and provide the most produce for my family. I'll look at the calendar and plan our when to move the compost pile and when to till the garden. This year, we may make a few raised beds. I'll set a date to build them well before planting time.
To me, planning the garden is the best way to spend these few warm days in February. As the children play in the muddy sunshine, I can dream.
In a week or two, it will be cold again, and our bodies may forget this warmth ever came. But I'll be watching the mailbox more than the weather-channel. And when my seeds arrive, we'll have our own miniature garden growing under the lights downstairs.
Call me crazy, but I can't wait.
- Midwest Mom