Winter doldrums and tantalizing catalogs

Last year's attempt at a potted tomato plant.

Last year’s attempt at a potted tomato plant. Notice the chicken wire? Chipmunks love tomatoes as do groundhogs and squirrels.

This is the boring time of the year. Weather is yucky (technical term) even though we haven’t had the really cold winter weather yet.

My yearning for warmer weather fuels unrealistic expectations that will slap me in the butt during the summer.

It starts with those seed catalogs. I dog-ear the pages. Should I buy seeds and start them myself? Try to buy at a garden store in May? (This is a huge decision because starting them at home is more work than you think it is.)

Last year I didn’t start any seeds, not even tomatoes. Big mistake. I couldn’t find my favorite varieties even though every store had at least 60 different types.

The year before I had started tomatoes and a few flowers. I resisted investing big bucks in equipment so I ended up with very leggy (but healthy) plants that looked more like ivy vines than tomato plants growing happily in yogurt containers.

At one time I had the growing lights and all that. The thing about starting seeds is that when you plant a half-dozen, you end up with a gazillion plants. Damn seeds are so tiny that they sneak through your fingers looking for fertile soil to set down roots.

Then there are the cats. Morgan would check them every day to make sure there was no catnip growing. Conversations explaining that catnip was not planted would end up in pouting sessions (I’ll let you guess who did the pouting).

Someone did some rearranging, right off the table. The cats blamed the beloved husband and he blamed the cats. One plant bit the dirt.

Did you ever try to get rid of extra plants at planting time? Friends (good friends!) duck across the street when they see you coming. They put fake obituaries in the paper so you don’t plead with them to take plants.

In the meantime the damn plants are growing like kudzu in the spare bedroom covering furniture and ceilings. These are the same plants that will be stunted until the end of August after you transplant them in the garden. Gah!

Even worse than the garden plants are the shrubs. Those catalogs have beautiful hydrangea (that refuse to bloom after a hard winter). Catalog trees are stunning. I won’t even go into the roses. Roses need a staff.

I will put away the garden catalogs. Maybe a quick look at the new exercise outfits will work instead. You don’t need to do yoga to wear the outfit! I can always buy tomatoes.

47 thoughts on “Winter doldrums and tantalizing catalogs

  1. There are monarch butterflies in the neighborhood – either very foolish flyers or early spring predicted.
    I have little luck with growing anything from seeds – but cuttings flourish. I know why you mean about trying to relocate plants to other yards….I thinned a huge fern bed and someone actually mentioned they’d like some – bingo – ring the doorbell and run…but probably won’t be a spot to unload any of the other spares…

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  2. Just the thought of growing a plant from a seed makes me nervous. If it doesn’t talk in this house , it will not survive.
    The other day in the freezing cold rain I pulled a catalog out of my mailbox with a bathing suit on the cover. My first thought was … calm down.

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  3. Sometimes seedlings are a lot of work for little reward, or too much reward perhaps, but there’s something very special and hopeful about the process during the doldrums of winter. I love those catalogs, too!

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  4. I buy plants for the balcony. Sometimes I will plant some seeds in the pots outside. If they grow I am happy if not it’s ok. The weather has been crazy. My petunias look like little bushes. I have never had flowers in January usually the plants fade away in early December. They look better now than they did in the horrid hot summer.

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    • It is definitely a winter for the books. This week we are in the 50s. This is usually our coldest time of year with some single digits sprinkled in. The birds are happy. I’ve given up flower seeds. I don’t plant many and I can usually find what I want. It’s all about the tomatoes.

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  5. ‘Seedy Saturday’ an annual feature in our town happens next week. There, zillions (and I mean zillions) of crazed gardeners crowd in together to sell, buy and trade seeds and gardening paraphernalia of all types. I go for the coffee and home-made baked goods. Try as I may, I simply am not a ‘plant from seed’ person.
    PS – Very funny about the fake obituaries!

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    • I’d really prefer not to, especially with a new cat. However, last year I couldn’t find the varieties of tomatoes I like. I tried some new ones but they didn’t perform for me. I did one “spectacular” variety that yielded 6 tomatoes all season. Not taking a chance this year.

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  6. I’ve never started vegetable plants from seeds… I’m way too impatient for that. If I could buy the plants at the nursery with the vegetables already on them, I’d be happy. 🙂 We are growing a magnificent crop of weeds right now in my vegetable garden area after all the rain we’ve had. Unless I get a pet goat, I do have a ton of weeding to look forward to. Yay!

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  7. Slightly off-topic from seeds and gardens, we have a lot of catalogs coming to our house because my wife orders from quite a slew of them. This means we also get a lot of packages. All of that is fine with me. But what isn’t okay with me are the comments are mail carrier makes about the number of packages we get, and comments such as “how much your wife must be spending.” We have the world’s nosiest and boundary-challenged mailman! – Marty

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  8. It’s the damnedest thing, trying to time your seeding efforts so that the plant will be just right at transplanting time. Too soon. Still too soon. Closer… wait for it. YOU MISSED IT! But yeah, I am familiar with each and every detail you write about – including pouty cats and meddling spouses.

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  9. I felt every word and laughed. It was a diabolical laugh aimed at dream catalogs that promise the unattainable. I have two black thumbs and eight black fingers. My toes are probably black, too. I have never planted a single seed that obeyed the instructions sent with it. You can’t beat a 100% failure rate! The lure of those catalogs, though, is almost hypnotic. Good luck!

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    • We are having a mild week. We had the edge of the nor’easter go through yesterday but there is a bright glare today. Not exactly sun but I’m not complaining. Hummingbirds, yes! Those catalogs with all the bird feeders and houses are tempting too.

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  10. Sadly our attempts at a roof garden failed last year, but we intend to have another go with our ‘old faithful’ strain of tomatoes that never failed us in the cottage. We have a few ideas as to why our veg didn’t come to fruition, but we are not deterred. Different plan of attack later in the spring.

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  11. I hear you. I never know whether to trust that I’ll find the vegetable plants we like OR to fuss around starting them from seeds inside the house. And as for those garden catalogues… they’re pied pipers tricking you out of your money with photos of make believe plants, imho.

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    • I tried angelonia and profusion zinnias two years ago. Both were major fails. Even thought I started 8 weeks ahead, both were so tiny at planting time that they were behind until mid-summer. I’m going to do the tomato plants that are hard to find this year. I really need a grow lamp to keep the “leggy” under control.

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