January Garden Work
Do You Have a Similar Stash of Seeds?
If you live in a region in which snow covers the ground in January, you may question what work could exist for the garden. Similarly, if your land lacks snow but is frozen from the topsoil down about a foot, “garden work” may not make sense. However, if you resemble me in my gardening habits, there is work to be done.
How it Goes
As I play and toil through a luxurious summer of heat and sun, the garden starts to race with me. It is like the fabled tortoise and the hare (perhaps with a twist.) It doesn’t start that way, however. I commence spring as enthusiastically as a spry hare: digging, planning, fertilizer, expanding, and spending money, of course, on the various plots throughout the yard. Alas, the plants in the garden resemble the most intransigent tortoise awakening from a winter of hibernating. They grow so-o-o-o-o slowly. My daily inspections for little green points of leaves uncover the teeniest bits of progress.
Then, the temperatures warm and become reliably hot. Annuals begin to grow. Weeds begin to grow! My gardens become joyous playgrounds and showcases. Grass needs mowing and bushes need pruning. Those hardy yews require trimming at least three times through the summer. Sneakily, all these outside tasks multiply and I am almost tempted to use the word “work” for my garden tasks. The garden has become quite a steady, energetic tortoise. Although I, as the hare, do not stop for a nap, my enthusiasm flags.
Then, the hot autumn creates a garden requiring harvesting, weeding, composting, and more. The tortoise seems to have ingested amphetamines! It wins the race. I am lucky to just get vegetables frozen, a few seeds collected, and outdoor furniture repainted and put away. After that I collapse, figuratively speaking.
My “collapsing” leaves things undone. Two tasks are the ones I can tackle after the winter holidays have passed:
1. Organizing the seeds
2. Maintaining the tools
I bop around the yard collecting mature seed heads of annuals or seeds from beans throughout the final months. Because the plants do not mature on the same day, this collection occurs spontaneously and I put the seeds either in a plastic bag, a piece of paper, or just in a pile on a shelf. These bags and piles are spread throughout the house and garage. I try hard to include a scrap of paper identifying the source, but sometimes that, too, falls by the wayside. So, January presents the opportunity to right things. I gather up all the bags and piles and lay them out. Like seeds are consolidated. Unlabelled seeds are labeled (sometimes with a question mark behind the name.) Bags with the beginning of mildew are aired out. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of those.
Oh my goodness! Would you like to guess the condition of my tools? You are right. They need to be cleaned, oiled, possibly have a little rust sanded, and some need to be sharpened. The month of January is great for these jobs. Doing these now also spreads out the costs of gardening through the year, rather than concentrating them in the spring and summer.
So, if you are twiddling your green thumbs anticipating the opening of gardening season, you may want to evaluate your situation. Are your seeds in the same sorry state as mine were? Could your tools use some tender, loving care? Then, hop in and do some garden work in January.
Photos and text copyright 2012 Maren E. Morgan, all rights reserved.
- Seed Catalogues: Herald of Spring
Two certainties in the mail for the week between Christmas and New Year’s are tax forms and seed catalogues. Paper catalogues are fun and have advantages over on-line listings.