For your consideration: My latest attempt at rooting lemongrass (a la You Grow Girl) hanging out with the only houseplant I have managed not to kill.
What does this have to do with hibernation? In my neck of the woods, it’s cold enough in the wintertime to hibernate. We had three feet of snow land on us a couple of Februaries ago. If it’s warm enough in late winter to have plants sprout early, you look at them cross-eyed because you know the frost is gonna get ‘em soon and you will not have any crocuses this year.
So what’s a gardener to do? Hibernate. Leaf through the seed catalogs and plan ridiculously intricate gardening plots for spring while curled up under a blanket with a cup of tea. Wait patiently (yeah right). Or attempt to bide your time indoors and save seeds, plant seedlings, and get a jump on spring when it finally gets here.
But I’m awful at gardening indoors. Every houseplant except one (the one above) has died a slow, painful death at my hand. I think the hardy jade plant above is still living only because the parent plant lives next door and checks on it every once in a while. My tomato seed saving attempts this fall went nowhere fast. And this is my second attempt at lemongrass-rooting because my first round failed spectacularly.
I can get away with looking like I know what I’m doing outside because I live in a place with sunshine and rain, good soil, and a moderate growing season. I can fake it outside, frankly. Not so much inside. So my hibernation lesson for this winter is one of patience, attempts at expanding my horizons, and overcoming frustration and failure. Hopefully, if I can get the lemongrass to root, I will be enthused enough to attempt to grow my own seedlings in the spring.
That’s pretty existential for gardening. But when you’re hibernating, what else is there to do?
Weedwacker? Weedwhacker? Spellcheck doesn’t like it either way. I give up.
At any rate, my electrically-powered-hand-tool-that-chops-up-weeds-with-a-string found itself temporarily (I hope) stymied by the weeds it encountered today. My yard has a history of swallowing things, including stone benches, pathways, and most of a clearing in the woods that was once bricked over – the bricks have themselves been weeded over, or at least leaf-molded over. A friend once optimistically described it as a “fairy wonderland,” whereas I usually tell people that it’s like The Secret Garden before Mary and Dickon started hacking at it.
What was solidly an old lady’s flower garden (with admittedly amazing spring bulbs) is slowly being transformed into a more workable space. Don’t get me wrong, I love the six different types of daffodils in April. However, on a 50′x200′ lot, with a house on over half of it, woods on about 1/4 of it, and a sloped front yard, there’s precious little space for gardening. So the bulbs are moving to areas that are less palatable for production, raised beds are going in, and trellises are going up. It’s our third summer here and finally it feels like it’s our yard. It helps that we water the tomatoes with water guns.
Little did I know that I was part of a larger backyard movement – I’ve never lived somewhere that didn’t have a garden in the rear (except for those shifty college apartments). I found You Grow Girl when I bought my first house in 2002, but it’s such an intimate site that it never occurred to me that this was such a growing phenomenon. To me, people always grew plants in their backyards. Strangely, it wasn’t until earlier today, when I viewed Leah, my veghacker friend, talking to local mainstream news figure Bill Flanagan about transforming flower gardens into usable food growing spaces, that I realized that planting seeds and getting out the watering can regularly isn’t something that people just know how to do. So I’m thankful that my kids have an interest in doing this – even when it means giving up some extra space in the yard or time otherwise spent playing video games. Judging by my two year old’s attempts to string the pea trellises again with the twine I left outside, I think the kids will be just fine.