My Confession.

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Well, Ro confessed, so here’s my confession, too. Except mine’s quite different.

I don’t really like seed shopping! I consider it a chore. A necessary chore, but a chore nonetheless. So I tend to procrastinate, and put it off, often for longer than I ought. I know this, and I guess in the back of my mind I always feel a little guilty about it. It was probably one of thing things that contributed to my dreams back in December.

Now, the weather in December was quite kooky. It felt like spring for most of the time—mud, nice breezes, could easily go outside without a coat. So one time, after being lullled to sleep by the sound of luciously warm breezes, I drempt that it was Spring, and I mean really Spring. There was rushing, roaring water in the drainage ditches along the side of our propety. I could see the swollen brook across the field, which one cannot do unless we’ve had a good deal of rain. The kids were outside in short-sleeve shirts, splashing in the mud. The garden was nothing but a bare (okay, kind of weedy) patch of dirt. It was probably about a week or two past pea planting time. And suddenly, I remembered. I hadn’t even placed a seed order yet!!! I woke up thouroughly upset, and a bit sick to my stomach. I, of course, blamed it on the weather, not my unfailing habit of putting of seed ordering until much too late. I spent the next few weeks wishing the weather would hurry up and make up it’s mind, and just act cold and snowy like winter weather is supposed to, so I wouldn’t have any more upsetting dreams.

Later on, I had a milder repeat of the same dream. This time I had fallen asleep right in the middle of a rain storm, which is completely indecent for winter weather. Again, I drempt it was spring, and again I drempt that I had no seeds. This time, when I woke up, I sat up and look out the window. It was completely, totally, and utterly white. Every little branch and twig was covered in a good 4 inches of snow. Needless to say, I did a double-take. Then I checked the clock to see if perhaps I’d accidentally slept in to, say, 3 in the afternoon, and that was why there was enough time for the weather to change so dramatically. No, it was morning. I looked out the window again. Perhaps I’d been asleep for days. I suppose I would have to get up and see.

I had not been asleep for days, of course, but winter had made up it’s mind at last. The temperature dropped down to the places I had expected, that is to say -20 degrees. And then, of course, the seed catalogs came. But by then I was so firmly convinced that winter was here, I stopped worrying about spring. Until a few weeks ago. Because I am supposed to start leeks in the middle of Febuary, which, incdentally, is upon us, and also incdentally, I still have not placed a seed order!!

But, when Ro called me up this week asking if she could go in with us on our Johnny’s order, I was finally guilted into it. The order is now at the Marketing/Accounting department, i.e. Teman has to say all is in order before I place it. Teman is one of my brothers and he used run the family vegetable garden, and I was merely his assistant. Then he went off and got a full time job, of all things, and I became labor and he merely paid the bills. Even worse, he went off and got a full-time job where he has to work over-time during bad weather, and of course since winter has finally decided to be winter–it’s snowing like crazy right now—he hasn’t been available for comment. But he has promised to go over it tomorrow, and I’m quite confident he will, because I know that if nothing else I am a good nag! Actually, he has been trying to look at it for the last several days, of his own accord, and the weather just hasn’t been cooperating, as usual.

The other day I asked him how much I had to spend, as I couldn’t remember for certain how much it was last year. It always sounds like such a huge amount to be spending on seeds, and then in the end I always find I’m spreading it thin trying to get everything I want.

“Well, how much do you want?” he said. I was flabbergasted.

“Well, if you’re just going to ask how much I want, I won’t bother ask! I’ll just write up the seed order and see if you pay for it.”

“Only buy as much as you can plant, how’s that?” says brother #2, adding his two-cents.

I change my mind. I wasn’t flabbergasted before. But now I am. For one thing, being flabbergasted is fun. For another thing, “how much you can plant” is totally un-measurable. How much I can get started in the house, or how much I can actually get in the ground outside? How much I can actually get in the ground, or how much I can actually take care of? I might be able to do more this year than I did last year, or vice versa, depending on the weather and other events totally uncontrollable by me, despite my best efforts. Perhpas he only meant not to buy extravagent things.

But this, too, is silly. Of course I wouldn’t buy extravagent seeds that I had no intention of planting! Take, for instance, lettuce. I only want to get ‘Jericho’, a green romaine that’s supposed to be really good in hot, dry weather, and ‘Rueben’s Red’, a red romaine. I had both of these last year, and we had a spectacular lettuce harvest, and I used up all of the seed. Oh, and ‘Bronze Mingoette’ (or some such French name), which is a butterhead lettuce, which I’ve never tried before. And ‘Sucrine’, which I want to try over-wintering with. And then there is tomatoes, which I’m very reasonable about. I’m only buying one, ‘Anut Ruby’s German Green Tomato’. Since my old ‘Oregon Spring’, ‘Brandywine’, and even some very old ‘New Girl’, tomato seeds are still good enough, it’s quite reasonable to try another kind of tomato. Although, I guess maybe that does make for 4 kinds of tomatoes. Oh, and that pepper there is too reasonable. For one thing, it was only 90c, and for another thing, its sounded quite delcious in the catalog write up, something about the hardest part of saving seed for this pepper is not eating all of your seed crop. And do never mind that we’ve never, ever, ever had a successful pepper crop in our entire gardening experience. And that having an 85 days until maturity, which is considered pushing it around here. After all, Brandywine tomatoes take 83 days, and I grew them last year, didn’t I? Besides, it’s an Amish variety, and the Amish always seem to have good vegetables.

Sigh. Okay, let’s be honest. I do need the broccoli. And the basil and parsely. Annnnnndddd. . . .hmm. Actually, this is where the real money comes in. I’m buying 1 1/2 lbs. of peas, which, really and truly, is not unreasonable for our family. I think that’s what I did last year, or maybe it was just a lb. (My record keeping isn’t so hot, have you noticed?). And the potatoes, 15 lbs. of them, also not unreasonable. We can easily and without trying at all the potatoes pruduced by 15 lbs. of seed potato (but don’t try this at home–there are, after all 14 of us), but it’s about $10/lb, plus shipping. If squished, I could do less. I did only do 10 lbs. last year. This is where my seed bill really rocketed, despite all my mocking of my lack or restraint. (It’s not my fault, the photography was too good, I couldn’t resist! And besides, they did a good job writing it up. Ok, ok, I was just temporarily insane! Just sign on the dotted line, ok?!?) Those little seed packets that I hope to buy really didn’t add up to all that much. It was the big little things that added up!

Besides, like Ro said, it’s fun to keep typing 0.80 into the computer!!

About the Author

Talitha spent the last few years doing an absurd combination of work and school, and found it wasn’t very pleasant. Now she’s doing work, school and a garden, and life is a little better! She also enjoys photography and hand feeding her ducks. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 AHS Heat Zone: 3 Location: rural; Southern Tier of NY Geographic type: foothills of Appalachian Mountains Soil Type: acid clay Experience level: advanced beginner Particular interests: herbs, vegetables, cutting garden, cottage gardening

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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Chan S. February 19, 2005, 8:48 am

I really procrastinated ordering seeds this season, and I wasn’t sure why, until I broke down and got it done one January weekend And It Took All Day. I like your lists of things you’re trying…I’ll need some guidance for when I order too much and too late next year!