Not Quite Spring

It’s mid-March, and this weekend I was hoping to get started on my garden.

Here where we live, that sounds like a preposterous idea — there’s still snow on the ground, and the temperature is below zero. We won’t get warm, spring-like gardening weather for another two months. We can’t really go out and do some early maintenance on the gardens for at least another month, since the ground will be wet and spongy with all the melting snow. But there are some things one can do to get started, even this early in the year.

One thing I like to do is plant seeds. I try, as much as possible, to start my gardens from seed. For one thing, it’s much, much cheaper than going and buying flats of plants each spring. And when it comes to my vegetable garden, it really is quite easy. Many of the veggies I grow — tomatoes, peppers, onions — are quite easy to start from seed. I also enjoy having my little greenhouse set up in the patio window, watching the plants sprout and grow and reach up towards the sun.

I also try to start flowers from seed. Often times, that’s a bit more of a challenge than vegetables. Flowers can be much more finicky and delicate than vegetables. And there is the question of perennials vs annuals to contend with, which presents a whole different set of challenges. But I continue to try. I try every year to raise perennials from seed, and most times, I fail miserably. They’re just so touchy, right from the start. If things are not exactly so, they won’t even sprout at all. And if they DO sprout, you sometimes get these little weedy plants that just die within days. But, hope springs eternal. Perennials are just so much more expensive to buy from the garden centre, but they sure do save you time each spring if you can get a garden full of them to thrive.

Another thing I like about growing flowers from seed is the element of surprise. In the past, I have purchased seed packets and mixes that contain seeds for a variety of plants — a wildflower mix, for example, or a cut flower mix. So, what I do is take a few of the seeds and start them off, and see what I get. I am not so much of a horticulturist that I can identify flowers by their seeds, so I never know what I will end up with. It’s bachelor’s buttons and coreopsis one year, zinnias and sweet Williams the next. And if you’re really lucky, the ones you get will grow and self-seed, and voila! Riot of unplanned flowers the next year.

Unfortunately, though, the weather and my cold seems to have scuttled my plans a bit. I was hoping for warmer weather this weekend, so I could go get all my tools and seeds out of the garage and get soil from the bins I keep in the back yard. But the weekend is cold and not very hospitable. And, since both BDH and I are still sick, the idea of even that small bit of manual labour to get everything set up is unappealing. I need his help to get the little greenhouse set up, but I don’t have the heart to ask him for help while he’s hacking and coughing.

So, I think I’ll put my gardening plans on hold for a few days. Perhaps I’ll read through my gardening books and plan and dream instead.