Get Thee to the Garden!

by Linda Wiggen Kraft

Now is the time to get back to the garden. There’s much to do and plant. For most gardeners, it is with great joy that we get back to the garden. The hardest part of winter is not the snow, ice or below freezing temperatures. It is the feeling of exile that comes when weather banishes us from the land where our hearts feel most at home.

Spring gardening is a time to grow roots. Not just of plants, but our own roots of new dreams and hopes for a glorious season of growing. All gardeners feel the stirring of life when seeds are planted at this time of year. There are food seeds for our bodies, and seeds of flowers that feed our souls that can all be planted in early spring.

Putting seeds directly into the ground is one of the most powerful acts of sustaining and nurturing life. The energy of mother earth fills us as we dig in the dirt and nurture what we grow. Standing, stooping, sitting and working the garden brings abundant life affirming energy into our lives, even when the work is hard and tiring.

It’s important to know what conditions seeds need for germination, as they come to life in different ways and temperatures. For some snow, freezing and thawing are needed. My flower favorites are poppies (papaver rhoeas & nudicale), spider flower (cleome) and brown-eyed Susan (rudbeckia triloba). Their seeds can all be sprinkled on the snow and bare ground before spring arrives. The poppies, called Shirley and Icelandic, have delicate papery flowers that look like taffeta skirts for fairies. Cleome blooms all summer and the rudbeckia has what seems like hundreds of small gold flowers on each plant.

Cool loving vegetable seeds that go directly into the ground will soon produce sweet tasting greens and other food. Mid to late March is good for cool season seeds to be planted. Some radishes, lettuces, arugula, mustard greens, spinach and swiss chard can be harvested three to four weeks after planting. Sweet peas, beets, turnips, carrots, kohlrabi, and nasturtium are ready in about two months. As the weather warms some of these plants will turn bitter and are best replaced with heat loving plants. Peas, lettuces, arugula, spinach and radishes can be fully harvested and their garden spaces filled with tomatoes, eggplant, okra, beans, peppers, squash and more. But the others will continue to grow.

So get thee to the garden now. It’s time to return to the land where our hearts are most at home.

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