How Not to Turn Into The Shining This Winter

Tonight’s Gardening Music:

It’s just about the time of year I start to get the desperate, painful feeling that I’ll never see a green growing thing again. The Polar Vortex isn’t doing much to help my cabin fever — I used to get through long winters in Vermont by imagining that somewhere in the continental US (a limit that made the place seem more geographically accessible) it was warm. Now I live below the Mason-Dixon line, my postage stamp front yard is covered in snow, and I heard it was freezing in Florida. Get me out of here.


My roommate and fellow contributor Becky Graebner has been tackling her cabin fever by cooking her way through Ina Garten and documenting it here. I thought I’d contribute some fresh herbs to her cause by pursuing one of my favorite hobbies, gardening. I’m fighting the Polar Vortex Blues by getting a head start on my annual kitchen garden. Follow me, step-by-step, in the coming weeks as I provide garden tips and inspiration — and let me know what you’re planning on growing this season!

Day One: No Gear, No Fear

I got my seeds today.

I know that for a lot of people, a big part of the pleasure of a hobby is acquiring all the paraphernalia — just talk to an amateur photographer and you’ll probably spend more time discussing accessories, upgrades, and programs than you will the actual photographs. But my usual approach to new hobbies (or the restart of old ones) is to keep it simple, and let the results guide my acquisition of more gear.

So tonight, I have three glasses of water and three packets of seeds.

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There’s plenty of gear associated with gardening — I should know, I’ve given a lot of it to my dad — but the pleasure one takes in gardening is a pleasure of doing, not a pleasure of owning, which is a lesson my dad gave to me.

Tonight, I’m trying something new. There seem to be two genera of gardeners: those who soak seeds and those who simply throw them in the ground. Normally I’m a throw-it-in-the-dirt gal, but this year I’m soaking my seeds in water overnight. Supposedly this has an effect like proofing yeast in a baking recipe — “waking” the seeds up and ensuring they’re viable. We’ll see.


And that’s it, for now. Gardening is supposed to be meditative — nothing happens fast in a garden, except the most beautiful things that you wish would take their time. It seems difficult to gain the same serenity that working in a big, quiet yard can give, when gardening in a little apartment full of distractions. With a glass of wine in my hand, tonight I’m going to make time to sit back quietly and look at my seeds before the next chore of life whirls me up in activity again.

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