There is a winter storm warning out for this corner of the state. The temperature is dropping and the radar shows a large band of snow headed our way. The wind is predicted to hit gusts of 45 miles per hour. It is no wonder that the seed catalogs I have found in my mailbox for the last several weeks seem so enticing.
The seed companies know when to send their beautifully colored catalogs of perfect looking fruits and vegetables to my door. Today would be a perfect day to build a fire in the wood stove, make a hot cup of coffee, find the last of the Christmas cookies and dream about Spring.
Will I plant the usual crop of Nantes carrots or should I venture to seed purple and red ones? Maybe a new variety of heirloom tomatoes? How many cabbages? The flowers are so beautiful. I want a few of every kind! Perhaps I should give up trying to grow anything loved by flea beetles. More peppers? Fewer tomatoes? What kind of beans? Should I give okra another try? Then there are the fruit trees and berry bushes tempting me with images of sweet bright fruits. How many years will it take before you can eat a hardy kiwi off the vine?
I have forgotten the unfinished tasks covered up by the snow in my garden. There are squash vines waiting to be picked up. What about those nasty slugs that chewed up any tomato that was close to the ground and which crawled their slimy little selves into the lettuce? Will they survive the winter? Maybe another cold snap wouldn’t be such a bad idea! If I plant everything I put on my preliminary list, I would need to dig up another acre or two to accommodate the additional plants. How would I pick and preserve all of the bounty of the fall when everything is ready? Of course, that all seems possible in the middle of a January blizzard.
Gardening, like many of the best parts of life, doesn’t always pencil out economically. Seeds can be expensive unless you save your own. Started plants are even more costly. The cost does, however, keep one closer to the reality of what is possible in one’s garden. If you only compare the price of fresh produce in the grocery store or at the farmers’ market, it would hardly pencil out. Some of the benefits of gardening, however, are harder to quantify.
Planting a few flowers among the carrots and cabbages can attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. The physical exercise needed to hoe, mulch, weed and water is as healthy for you as is the higher nutrition of fresh vegetables. Being outside surrounded by singing birds and buzzing bees is good for one’s mental health as well. Studies show a marked increase in endorphins and other good mood chemicals in our bodies when we are out of our air conditioned, LED lit, super-insulated homes and offices.
Even if I didn’t have piles of year end bookkeeping to complete and unfinished laundry or a dozen or more projects to start and finish, it would not be a good idea for me to send off my seed order today. If the wind picks up and the snow starts blowing, I might get carried away with garden planning in an effort to keep warm.
Gardening fantasies can be very expensive if one acts on them in the middle of a blizzard.
© 2018 Janet Jacobson and Sustaining the Northern Plains