Outside the weather continues to flirt with winter, temperatures careening between yesterday’s 40s and today’s single digits (first real cold), snow dancing about the sky but refusing to lay down a fluffy quilt to insulate the gardens. Yesterday the fennel, artichokes and rosemary were still alive and well inside their light tunnel. We’ve had a black bear and a skunk visit (the latter when Bill fired up the barbecue the other evening–a fox wandered in, too) when they should be hibernating. It’s January and I’m sounding much as I did in November. How strange.
But there’s a difference. The seed catalogs have arrived–the stuff of winter day dreams beckoning as I stand at the edge of winter.
And so, because I’m a sucker for reading about heirloom varieties of almost anything I can grow up here, I spend the evening looking through the colorful pages. What to order? Yet another strawberry variety? Probably not if we’re in for wild sweeps of weather extremes. That sweet-looking tomato? Pencil-thin hot peppers? More kinds of heirloom broccoli and celeriac? Tempting. But I have seeds left over from last year and seeds harvested and saved from the heirlooms I particularly liked. And seeds my friends will give me.
I put the catalog down. What am I thinking? I could plant out the gardens without ordering a single seed. That would be the right thing to do–waste not want not. As I will be away all of March and April and cannot very well ask our house-sitter to plant and tend to a gazillion seedlings in the basement, I won’t start some of my favorites this year. Or I’ll have to chance it and start them in May. No lemongrass this year. No new rosemary or thyme. Or artichokes. If I insist on starting them from seed.
I stack the catalogs and put them away (on my desk, not in the recycling bin). I am warming to a new challenge–growing only what I already have in seed stock or barter for or am given. Getting serious about seed saving. Spending my gardening time improving what I do rather than trying out the new. Going deep. Slowing down. Letting a couple of beds breathe this year under a thick covering of buckwheat instead of potatoes. We don’t need that many potatoes. There will be some exceptions such as sweet potato slips (I didn’t grow enough this year to save), peas and a few lemongrass plants–I cannot imagine my winter storage rooms and freezer without them. If my thyme plants don’t make it through the winter, I’ll have to replace them. And then there are the seeds I’ll come across on my travels…But mostly, I’ll plant what I have and see how it goes.
And if you happen to have extra seeds hanging about….