Monthly Maunder: February 2019

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February means different things to different people. For some, it’s a month about football; for others it’s a month about love. For still others, including the “work me,” it’s African American History Month. For the “homebody me,” it’s a month about gardening. Well, garden planning, to be more specific.

I’m sure that I’ve written about this yearly hobby of mine before, and if I haven’t, suffice to say, I garden. I guess. I mean, I’m still not very good at it, but it’s only been…well, this will be our eighth year with the hobby, and still, there’s so much to learn. And so much to accept. Because, it’s tough, having a garden. 

The hardest thing I’ve had to come to grips with is the lack of control. Because frankly, I can plan all I want, start seeds at the perfect time and temperature, and get things started off right. But I can’t do anything about Mother Nature — unexpected frosts in springtime, damaging summer downpours, or excessively hot dry spells. I can also read up on critter abatement, how to deal with problem bugs, and plant problems all I want, but issues remain with rabbits and squirrels, an assortment of bad bugs, and keeping plants healthy. At times, gardening can be exorbitantly frustrating.

And yet, it’s also extremely rewarding, not only in the prize of fresh, delicious vegetables, but also in the form of hard work paying off. Even when things are bad in the garden, it’s not all “bad.” Because they fact is that you helped something grow from nothing. Even if that something dies an early death, it’s better than it remaining an unfulfilled seed all its life.

And so, I plan. Deciding what items to plan during the year; deciding which seeds need to be started first. Deciding on how much soil to buy, and which garden beds need a little extra work over others. Deciding on things to replace, too, like old wooden boards and weathered plastic barrels, things that we’ve used to make planting spaces.

It also means deciding on if it’s time to buy new seeds. And honestly, just like when you start something new, perusing new seed catalogs in the winter remains a joy. Not only because it’s fun to see what new varieties folks have come up with other the year, but also because it holds so much promise. The decision to try a new variety of something or other is exciting. Provided the new seeds take (because sometimes they don’t), it’s exciting to see what grows. Sometimes it’s exactly like you see in the picture, and sometimes it’s anything but. And the “anything but” is exciting in its own right. Because maybe what you get is better than what’s in the picture. Or maybe it’s worse. Either way, you have something to show for it.

And so, I plan. Gathering up all the garden implements to make sure that none need to be replaced. Gathering up our motley collection of tomato cages to see which ones are still viable. Gathering up all our seed starting containers to make sure they haven’t become infested with spiders seeking little, dark hidey-holes in the dead of winter.

To be honest, it’s the only time of the year when I enjoy going out to the local hardware store – our primary garden supplier – to get new supplies. Going during other times of the year isn’t terrible, but it’s usually because it means that something needs fixing. And while there, it’s all too easy to remember that, oh yes, that other needs thing fixing too, so I guess I better get stuff for that while I’m here. And before you know it, you’re standing in line with a cart full of pavers, drywall supplies, PVC pipes, and roofing tiles. And only after checking out do you realize that you forgot the one thing for which you came to the stupid store in the first place. Sigh. (But at least you realized it before you got home.) But before all that, there’s the matter of picking up new stuff for the purposes of gardening. And again, with the act of doing so comes promise. The promise of what the garden holds this year. Will it be good? Will it be great? Or will it be terrible? You simply won’t know unless you…y’know, garden.

And so, I plan. This month, I plan for the garden. Because it’s February, and that’s what it’s time to do.

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