Dreaming of A Perfect Gardening Season

My computer is whirring away, sparkling with gorgeous images of perfect vegetables and fruit. My mailbox is bulging with seed catalogs that just keep coming, tempting me with gorgeous pictures and prose that captures my imagination.

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Dragon’s Tongue Beans. Purple potatoes. Moon and Stars watermelons. Wouldn’t they look fine against the fence? It’s way too easy for me to get carried away and order far too many seeds and varieties that are not reliable in my climate. I might wish I was zone 5 but wishing won’t change the fact that I’m solidly in zone 4.

I belong to a lovely group called the Hilltown Seed Savers Network. We are dedicated to creating a seed bank that is specific to the high hills of Western Massachusetts. We have hosted several trainings and one hugely successful seed exchange. Our next event is scheduled for February. We will be getting a group together to discuss what varieties are the most reliable right here. I’ll be waiting to put in my seed order until then.

Last year I bought seeds for my favorite squash. Oregon Sweet Meat Homestead is a marvelous squash, sweet, dense and enormous. Unfortunately, they didn’t grow for me. Oregon in the name should have told this Massachusetts girl something. This year I plan to try again but I’m backing the experiment up with a good planting of Blue Hubbard, something that always grows well.

Starting Seeds Right!
Pot MakerI’m experimenting with some other things too. I just put in a Lehman’s order for some planting helpers. I’m getting a pot maker that uses newspaper strips to make pots that can go right in the soil. So much damage happens when you transplant tender seedlings and disrupt the fragile root system.

I’m also trying the soil cube tool. I’ve used a commercial system before but it’s way too much for me. I just need this small unit. The secret to success is using the proper soil composition and to be sure the seedlings get enough light and water.

I’ll be shopping for garden soil in the next week. It’s time to get a few things I’ve saved seed for started. It’s not too early for kale as I’ll put it in the greenhouse as soon as it gets going. We eat lots of kale around here. It’s one of my daughter’s favorite vegetables. We like it in soups primarily. The dehydrated leaves held well in glass jars with oxygen absorber packets. I toss handfuls into every pot of soup and most of casseroles too.

So much will be happening soon. The chicken peepers order has to be done. Mud season will arrive in all its squishy glory in a matter of weeks. My husband got out the sap spiles today. I need to get the buckets washed as the sap will be running in a few weeks too. But today is here, cold and hard but filled with possibility. I will sit with my catalogs and enjoy the eye candy. The colors are warming and if I close my eyes I can almost smell the dirt.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.