Pre-Gardening: an Adventure

We have been gardening for years and years and have accumulated a vast wealth of knowledge, mostly in the form of gardening books that we have only skimmed through. Every year is a new set of (rewarding) struggles. However, one of the things that has finally sunk in is that gardening does not begin after the frosts have gone away, which is much later than we ever expect. No. Apparently gardening begins in deep winter.

Be sure to install a garden cat to keep you company while in your own backyard.

Be Prepared

All the way back in January, we combed through our seed catalogs and internet websites and daydreamed how great the yard is going to look this year. We made plans! We drew garden layout ideas! We misplaced all of those things within a day of having done them!

In February, we actually ordered the seeds, the seed trays, the plant lights — the whole kit and caboodle! We ordered so many seeds that you’d think we had acres of lush farmland. You’d believe that we have the ability to grow plants beyond ultimately letting Fate decide. And as it happens, you might even think that we were going to open up a Basil Farm this year.

Friends, expect bouquets of basil throughout the summer months!

To garden as we do is very simple, if a little exhausting. After receiving all of those planting trays and lights which can be shone in different colors, you can learn — almost by accident — about how different colors are SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN to make plants tastier or bushier, and be just as surprised as we were. Chromotherapy in gardening? Yes it would appear so!

Next, fill the trays with nineteen different kinds of basil and WAIT. You only need to wait a few days before sprouts appear. Take a thousand pictures of them to send to everyone you know. Call them your babies. Remark on their basil fragrance as soon as it happens. Be filled with exuberant pride at your Basil Empire. Begin to collect recipes for pesto.

Plant Parties every day!

Eventually, remember that you also ordered seeds for many other vegetables, herbs, and flowers and start those too. Apologize to them softly every day because you will feel like you are doing every single thing incorrectly. The instructions are clear, and tell you to “thin the sprouts” but that is MURDER so we are keeping the twins and triplets, and re-planting in the soils that never germinated.

Be Patient

This is the time of year when it’s so hard to tell if you should be starting to plant or not. “Sow seeds three weeks before last frost” okay but how can we ever know when that is?? We have the almanacs, but we haven’t yet developed the Farmer’s Sixth Sense. Sorry, baby plants. We have probably killed or stunted you in several ways. But still, we continue, erratically yet frantically, some days more than others.

Dollissa’s self portrait of being in yardly splendor.

Because we live where we do, it has already been over 80F several times, and on those days, we ventured out into the garden to get ready for gardening later. Pre-gardening normally includes repairing things, breaking ground on new plant beds, and tidying up winter’s chaos. However, there’s “normal” and then there is “normal for us.” We deviated.

Be Focused

  • I shoveled for three days in a row.
  • I unearthed some cicada babies that were not ready. I apologized a lot as I put them back in the ground.
  • The neighbor’s bamboo appeared in our raised beds, which is our tradition now. It came in all at the same time and Dollissa tried everything she could to remove it.
  • Dollissa stopped battling the bamboo when she broke a different raised bed board. That’s two in dire need of repair now!
I unearthed other treasures too like this ancient artifact.

These raised beds. I guess some pesky ants colonized the boards and did not live sustainably. Maybe we should treat these ants as a cautionary tale! Anyway, because of current Trying Times, my dad is PROHIBITED from visiting us and doing simple fixes such as this probably is. We will just have to helplessly watch our precious soil flowing out and creating mud on our little sidewalk. There is nothing we can do but accept it.

  • We emptied another failed compost bin.
  • Therefore we have obvious egg shells all over our yard in random places. It’s almost like decoration!
  • It took a while to find any worms to add because I guess the soil was still chilly.

Be Surprised

Surprise! Last year we planted broccoli directly into a raised bed and apparently grew kale instead! But surprise AGAIN! The second plant that grew next to the kale made little purple broccolis, which was not the kind of broccoli that Dollissa thought she planted. Undeterred, we have made harvests of this delicious bounty and have eaten of our vegetable crop. Success! Gardening is very much worth it!

Kale: a Journey to the Center of the Dolls

Also, the onions that we thought might have died are back again. Rather than zombie onions, I think this is maybe just how they behave? Other plants seem to be returning. My perennial flowers are waking up, too. It feels good to have not killed everything we touch.

Dollissa seen here posing with nourishing broccs.


It was very warm for long enough that we started to prepare for the planting. As in, we were seriously wondering if the frosts were over, if climate change had made the last frosts in March and maybe the things we were supposed to start weeks before the last frost were now late and ruined. I soaked sweet pea seeds overnight, intent on planting them in the ground the next day.

Soon! SOON! I promise!

That was like a week ago, and it’s been at or below freezing (at night) since then. I have little seeds sprouting on a plate in the kitchen, but they will have to stay there until Spring ACTUALLY arrives.


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