Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gardening with My Eyes Closed and Fingers Crossed

My parents were, at one time, farmers. They didn't own their own land, but they farmed. And my mother can grow almost anything. I have not inherited her ability. In addition, I'm a bit of a lazy gardener. I know little about fertilizers or soil types and while I've read lots of how-to articles, gardening doesn't seem to be my passion the way writing is, so much of what I've read hasn't been retained. As a result, a lot of my gardening has been hit or miss.

That said, here at our house, we're definitely persistent. Because we know that we don't always have the best soil (lots of clay) or the best light (due to several trees we've planted since we moved here), or a ton of experience or knowledge, we realize that sometimes we just have to try something different. For years, our tomato plants did nothing. Then a couple of years ago, we decided to give up on finding a good, sunny spot on our somewhat shady property and set up containers on our partially sunny patio. Voila! We finally have tomatoes.

We also know that things change with time. When we first moved here 30 years ago, the yard was open and sunny, and I planted flowers from seeds with a pretty good success rate. The maple tree that we planted changed all that as it grew, so now I plant impatiens from bedding plants and they look nice even if I don't feel quite the sense of pride that I did when growing things from seed. Also, I used to be able to plant a nice row of marigolds along the driveway, but in recent years, something (I suspect squirrels or rabbits, since we have lots of them), repeatedly bit all the marigolds off right at the ground, more marigolds. As a result of these changing situations, our garden is always changing. (We have had great success with trees and shrubs and have a nice collection of lilacs, boxwoods, spirea, crabapple trees, a magnolia and, until a storm took it down last spring, a Montmorency cherry tree).

Every year is an experiment and a gardening adventure. Here's our latest:

Last week we began our experiment with winter sowing. Much of the snow had melted, and we had a warm day, so it seemed like a good time to get started, if only because we weren't freezing while we were setting things up. Of course, two days later the snow fell, so our milk jugs were snow covered for a few days. That's supposed to be all right. It is, after all, called winter sowing.

This is a technique recommended to me by several friends who have had success with it. You can read more about it here or here and there are numerous videos on YouTube. Just do a search for "winter sowing." Frankly, I'm somewhat skeptical of our own immediate success even though I'm sure that the process works. But if things don't work out this year, rest assured that this won't be our last attempt. Half the fun of gardening is in the process. I'll be happy if even a few of our seeds germinate, especially since we bought them in the early spring when our local hardware store had a major sale. If they fail, it won't have cost us very much. For now, while we wait for warmer weather, I have my fingers crossed that at least a bit of green shows up in our homemade greenhouses.

Have a great day!


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