This gardener has a confession to make. Gardening when it’s cold outside is not fun. Not even visiting my garden is much fun. Located in the wide-open expanse of my backyard, there is nothing to protect me from the wind as I stroll among my garden beds. When I must weed, my fingers freeze – even through my gloves. Along with my nose. I don’t have any “garden” jackets that I can ruin while working the garden. Like I said. Shivering is not this Floridian’s idea of fun, no matter how excited I am by the gorgeous cabbage heads forming before my very eyes. It’s cold. Cold is for snow, not gardens. Call me “The Wimpy Gardener,” but I prefer sunshine and tepid breezes when I’m outside digging in the dirt.
However, there is one upside to this frigid month of January. The seed catalogs are arriving! Woo-hoo! Talk about the perfect “pick-me-up” on a frosty morning. Colorful pages filled with ripe, succulent vegetables are definitely the key to filling my spirit with warmth. Now, I can start dreaming about warmer days and garden blooms with pictures to spark my imagination. (As if it needed sparking, but that’s a tale for another day).
It’s officially time to order those seeds to gain a head start on your spring planting. I don’t know about you, but I like to get my tomatoes sprouting in trays on the patio before I put them in the ground. Not only does it give them a jump on the season, but it allows me to avoid harvesting in the heat of May/June. Get in early, get out early, that’s my motto. Remember: Summer is for vacations.
So grab those catalogs and a warm mug of coffee (or glass of wine, if you’re a night person!), find a place by the toasty fire, and browse to your heart’s content. You won’t believe the stuff they’re growing these days! From a rainbow of cauliflower blooms to purple and blue “green” beans. I’m amazed. And thrilled! Reminds me of when I grew red okra and red cabbage. I LOVE color in the garden. And the house. My clothes.
But I digress. And you hold on to your enthusiasm, because you need to understand a few things before you get started. Seed selection depends on two things: what do you like to eat and where do you live, not necessarily in that order. While I may love fresh coleslaw on the Fourth of July, Central Florida summers are no place for cabbage. This is considered a “winter” crop in my neck of the woods. So check your labels. Know what grows where you garden, and only plant what you’ll eat. Or share. Gardening is bunches of fun, but plucking rotten cucumbers from the ground because no one cared enough to harvest them is not fun. Trust me.