Beyond the windows of my study/greenhouse, the temperature is still in deficit mode and falling.
Another skiff of snow arrived overnight—the dry, fat, fluffy kind I have no trouble ignoring. It will either blow away, or it will not. It doesn’t need my help deciding. Here, as elsewhere, we’re on the January/February cusp. For all practical purposes, that means gardening season is still a few months off.
By “gardening season”, I don’t mean the get-out-there-and-shove-seeds-into-the-dirt season; I mean the plan-for-perfection-but-prepare-for-disappointment season.
The seeds for a fresh batch of indoor herbs have already been deployed. Grow lights are at the ready. Last year’s containers have been duly sterilized (most of them, anyway). Mental maps, calendars and paper grids occupy my daydreams. But it’s still winter, dammit. In Australia, I’d be harvesting like a Tasmanian devil. Here, I can do little but fidget and wait.
I’ve thumbed through the partial packets of leftover seed from last year. I’ve checked expiry dates, and tossed out radishes, Sweet Williams, sweet alyssum, arugula, and scarlet runners I can’t be bothered with this year. In a burst of manic energy while avoiding various in-laws over the holidays, I even immersed myself in hours of YouTube vids on everything from how to cure blossom end rot, to how to maintain a giant tub of fat and sassy red wigglers in the basement.
I’ve come to embrace many online gurus as personal friends, making largely uneducated guesses about which ones I should heed religiously, and which ones are full of worm castings. I’ve debated long and hard about whether to order an All New Square Foot Gardening guide from Mother Earth News, or from my reliable old pals at the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Truth be told, I owe the Almanac folks a huge debt for the decades’ worth of free advice they’ve given me about how to predict weather trends according to the plumage of fuzzy caterpillars and the like.
I faithfully save every email they send each week, with tips on everything from when to divide and transplant bunching onions, to how to can salmon without risking a sudden and embarrassing death. Someday, I may even open and read those emails.
Every now and then though, a fella hankers to try something new. If only there were an all-Canadian magazine that could explain everything from how to brine a suckling pig, to how to fertilize your hubbard squash.
We could call it Aerosmith, or Harrowsmith, or something. And store the back issues beside the Whole Earth Catalog, a shelf above the Maurice Grenville Kains classic, Five Acres and Independence, and all 14 volumes of the iconic Foxfire books.
Just planting a seed for thought here, folks.
Ken spends the winter months dreaming of the garden and studying up on spring tasks