What are you doing reading this? Get outside NOW. Buy some plants. NOW.
Do you feel it? Spring. In full blast some places and inching forward in others.
I get impatient in winter. I know it is necessary for all the flora to rest and all that, but it seems to linger on and on. I’m okay with December and January. They are dark and cold in many places, but not in my memory or heart.
Around February I find myself hanging out by the windows like a cat in the sun- spots soaking up any morsel of warmth coming through the glass. That’s when I start to mumble about spring coming and when is it going to come, and doesn’t it seem late this year. Gardeners know this feeling.
When I have had the pleasure to walk the same way every day, I start to notice little changes. Maybe the peeper frogs sing a bit on a warm afternoon, or I see a crocus in a yard or hear the wren. Buds on trees start to swell. Little signs. I bet you see them too or even feel them.
I even find myself wandering through the garden section of Home Depot only to find hard stuff and plastic pots and maybe some evergreen shrubs. Even on-sale Christmas items. Mid-March I was staring at pansy plants and some early vegetables. There were a few unknown-to-me close-to-the-ground perennials and I had to buy a few.
I don’t even have a garden or a plant right now and I miss it so much. I love living and traveling in the caravan and at this time I would give anything to have a small square of land to grow some things. Instead, I will buy things for other people (my daughter in this case) and find a place to plant them.
I bought soil too and some gloves as I thought I might need them. Her planting supplies take up a space about 6 inches by 24 inches on the left side of her garage near the wall. Not a lot can fit in there. Not a big gardener yet, but I am working on that.
If you’re wondering why would I buy planting soil when I am planting things in the ground? Well, here’s the deal.
If you live in an older neighborhood with established trees and lots of foundation plants and leaves that fall in Autumn and maybe your trees are older than twenty years, then just forget this bit and scroll down.
If, however, you live in a newer development like my daughter (starter home) then just know that the builder raped the land before doing anything. Took off all of the top-soil, ripped out all of the undergrowth and trees, totally drowned and smothered the roots of any tree remaining which will die soon.
They want to make money and make it fast and those machines, builders, cement people, trucks and more trucks, do NOT want to be bothered with a group of trees to go around or heaven forbid have to make a street curve around a 150-year old tree. OMG. The thought of it. Nope, they want fast action for the fast buck so they can go on and do it again.
Oh, they are required by law to plant some trees. So, what do they do? Find the cheapest, smallest trees they can find and put those in. Think Bradford Pear in the Southeast about 20 years ago.
My daughter’s house had 5 trees put in before they moved in. Eight years ago. Three inches in diameter. One has died. The others are now a whopping 3.5 inches in diameter. The soil is dead. Over half the trees in the neighborhood died. The builder is long gone.
Are all builders like that? Nope. Not at all. I had a new house built in an inner- city development and they saved every tree they could. And planted beautiful new ones. But the builders were a husband and wife architecture firm and that made all the difference. They worked with you and nature.
Oops. Where was I? Back to planting.
Planting connects us to the earth. We tend to slow down and filter out thoughts and pay attention to what we are doing. It is quiet and peaceful and gives us a chance to take a breath.
We’re giving life and color and smells and beauty back to ourselves. We’re watching daily miracles as a plant blooms or gives us fruit or vegetables and brings animals and bugs as visitors.
Many people live in very dense areas and do not have a private place to grow anything. That is when those public spaces, sometimes parks or gardens or just a florist shop with plants outside give us such joy. We don’t say “oh, let’s go to the concrete or the garbage dump today.” No, we say things like “Let’s go to the park or the greenway or the plant nursery.”
Now what to do if you live in a place with only a windowsill and no balcony or other outdoor space at all? Herbs are a nice thing to have and they don’t take up too much room and you can snip them for cooking or throw in a salad.
An easy one to grow is Rosemary. But look at those small pots and one of them will speak to you. Take me.
Tip to keep your plant alive. Do NOT water too much. How do you tell? Pick the pot up. If it is as light as that empty milk carton in the fridge, then put it in a bowl of water and let it suck up overnight. Then forget about it. Remember to water about as often as you clip your toenails. Unless your plant is in full sun all the time.
If you have a balcony then you have a ton of choices depending on if you are in the sun or the shade or a bit of both as the day goes on. Pick plants that will like the amount of light you give them. Some really need that shade and others like full sun beaming in on them 12 hours a day.
Usually plants are marked but if they aren’t then ask someone at the store (with dirt under their fingernails and not just a warm body at the register) and they will know or find someone who does.
Measure the space where your plants will live. Will you be using pots or rectangular planters or something else? Think about plastic rather than traditional clay pots for moving and lifting. Can you water okay? Will it leak to the people below you? If so then pick up some saucers.
It is difficult to remember how big your space is once you are staring at all of the plants you want to bring home. So, visualize and measure and take a photo with your phone so you don’t end up with twice as many plants and pots than you need. Spoken with experience. Just saying.
If you have space outside, then measure that too. I tend to plant things closer than recommended because I like the color and the effect of more plants. Do what works for you.
There is a saying for perennials and shrubs. First year it sleeps, second year it creeps and third year it leaps. Think about that when placing your plants if they are going to end up being a certain height or shape. Give them the room they need, and they will give you 100%.
I could go on and on, but it would be a lot more fun if you stopped reading and went out and dug around in the dirt. You will end up smarter and stronger knowing you are doing something for yourself and the environment. And it feels so good watching things grow. I will smile and wave as I walk by.
P.S. I am going out to buy a plant(s) right now.