When I woke up it was already quarter past six in the evening. But I was surprised to see that there was still light outside. Winter has not loosen its grip with another snow-storm, Winter Storm Titan, coming in on Monday (3/3) that will dump about six to twelve inches of snow. But the hour-hand of nature has not wavered and is ticking away towards another spring. Sun is rising earlier and higher up in the sky, moving away towards east more and more everyday. It's also going down late. The morning skies are gorgeous.
The Robins have not appeared up here yet, neither the Juncos have left this winter-home but the northern migration has started as reported by the citizen-scientists here. The early mornings are filled with songs of various birds of which I can only recognize that of Cardinals. I am seeing them flying after one another -- are those the results of birds fighting for territory or chasing each other for mating? I am also seeing them trying to gather materials for nests. They must be having a tough time this winter as all the dry leaves and grasses and broken twigs are under snow and ice. Squirrels are also chasing each other running up and down the trees, always a familiar sight here before spring.
Couple of years back I could not grow anything from seeds. I don't know how or when that learning happened, but eventually I learned to grow most flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs from seeds. One of the greatest mistakes a gardener can do is become over confident or lose patience or become busy. I think I either lost patience thinking that if these seeds could handle the rough outside world, then they could also handle a wee bit of negligence in the pampered world inside the house. Or I became too confident, and thus lost many seeds. Yes, I had a bumper crop of tomato and potato and fair amount of garlic, onion, okra, eggplant, pumpkins, pepper, gourd and other kinds of herbs but the amount was nothing compared to the amount of seeds I put in. And, that was a mistake -- it's very difficult to handle too many seedlings. So, the biggest lesson learned last year is to have lots of patience and not to rush. More I am twitching to put in seeds, more I am recalling the experience and really going slow this time, taking one baby-step at a time -- put in one type of seed, take care of them, let them grow to a reasonable size where a day's negligence will not matter much; then, put in the next batch of seeds.
Another lesson that I learned is to have a plan for your garden -- where each plant will go, when they will go and what will come after them. I didn't have any such plans. The result was that I didn't know where to put what, and thus some plants which needed to be in shade got put out in sun and vice-versa and that also resulted in smaller number of crops harvested. Also, when it came to fall planting, I didn't have the correct space. So, planning for the garden is an absolute must.
Keeping detailed notes is another must -- which seeds produced most; when were the seeds put in; what were their germination rate; how much space did it take -- how tall and wide did it become; were they able to handle some frost? how much flower did it produce or how much crop? How fast did a plant grow? Did they require lots of watering and fertilizer? How did it go with the surrounding -- birds, mammals and insects? -- every possible questions and ideas need to be recorded and studied. And, not surprisingly which I failed to do. I also put in the plants too close together and thus many of the plants inter-twined and created a tangle which didn't allow sunlight inside and it was also difficult to harvest.
With all these lessons in hand, I am again marching forward to another year of gardening and another small step towards the grave. I cannot help but have such morbid thoughts as this time of the year always stir up the philosopher inside me as I experience and observe the cycle of season and life. Just like Death, winter spread out its cold tentacles and took away the lives of so many tender plants and reduced the trees to its skeletons. The earth fell silence as birds and mammals hid away in their nests and dens, coming out only when hungry; they forgot to sing and play. But now things are stirring up, waking up and that also creates a flutter in my soul. Something happens inside me and which is very difficult to describe; I get the feeling that something big and profound will happen; I feel like dancing and rejoicing and sucking up every ounce that life can offer before death overtakes me. Thus, I rush to plant in more seeds, order more plants, read more gardening-books and browse more catalogs and wait for that something unknown but beautiful to knock on my door.