Seeds and hand rake

By Lori Berezovsky Ι Feb. 23, 2016

Just when the weather can’t get any grayer/colder/wetter/snowier/icier/bleaker, the USPS delivers in the form of seed catalogs. It is a day for celebration! I spread them out, dog-ear pages of interest, compare prices, draw rough sketches of what my garden should look like, and then place my order.

Somehow, the arrival of the catalogs makes me feel like spring is just around the corner, even when that groundhog hasn’t yet determined the length of our winter. The planning part of it makes me feel less sluggish. I feel my annual hibernation coming to an end. Invigorated, my new found energy finds an outlet in other areas, such as taking down all the curtains in the house and giving them a good wash. The thought of tulips and hyacinths popping up at the first hint of warmth fills me with hope. Pruning the old apple tree will get me thinking about our future fruit crop and preserving its bounty.

Isn’t that what winter’s all about? It’s a quieter time of planning, hoping and dreaming. It’s a time of taking stock, making lists and setting goals. It’s a time of knowing that spring and all its activity will soon be here, so we’d best be ready. Winter is summer’s cerebral cousin, who studies, ponders and digests. Summer might be filled with outdoor activities and longer days, but winter is when we get down to brass tacks. Once we get past the holidays filled with food, shopping, family dinners and office parties it’s a relief to fall into a late hibernation. Nighttime comes early, and sitting by the fire lulls me into a delightfully drowsy state. There’s nowhere to go, no appointments to keep, and even the book I’m halfway through isn’t in a hurry for me to finish it.

Somehow, knowing that there are actual green and growing plants somewhere out there in a greenhouse makes the winter more bearable. Even if that greenhouse is covered in snow, it still holds the promise of spring.

I’ll admit I get so caught up in garden planning that I forget just how much work it actually is to, say, make a flower garden bigger. Every spring, my muscles are shocked at the sudden physical labor, and they ache for days in reproach. I never remember that the planning during winter, hunkered down in a comfy chair, sipping a cup of hot coffee, is in direct opposition to the outdoor activity that is spring. Clearing the garden of debris, trimming back the perennials, making many trips to the compost pile, laying down a new layer of mulch; my back and legs start aching in anticipation, but in a good way.

Why do I do it? Call it the Circle of Life, if you will, but knowing that each season brings with it, its own work, which gives way to the next season, and then the next, makes me feel like I’m experiencing the rhythm of the world. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you make a plant grow and an even bigger payback when you can provide food for your family from the garden. Plus, I do enjoy a good seed catalog.

To encourage your winter planning phase, check out these books in the library’s collection:

“Biodynamic Gardening” by Monty Waldin, 2015Biodynamic Gardening book cover

“Butterfly Gardens: Luring Nature’s Loveliest Pollinators to Your Yard” by Alcinda C. Lewis, 2007

“Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook” by LaManda Joy