it’s just me

The intensity of my longing to be out in the garden has lately reached fever pitch.  And it really does feel like a fever or an illness in some ways, the kind that stays with you a long time and drags down your energy level and leaves you feeling bored and antsy and miserable, unable to do much while you wait for your body to heal or the magic cure to take effect.

But so far, that’s like trying to locate a cure for the common cold.

Growing sprouts in Mason jars won’t cure it.  Nor will watching the progress of a few lettuce seedlings on the dining room table.

Making out a garden plan and organizing the seed drawer only suppress the worst symptoms for a few days.  Soon the organized ranks of seeds start whining at you from their corner, like spoiled children who haven’t gotten what they wanted when they wanted it.

“February 1st!” cries one of the dividers every time you glance in their direction, with “February 15th!” not far behind.

Seed catalogs seem at first to help, but the hurt is merely transferred to your bank balance.  Besides, eventually the seed orders will have all been placed, and returning to the enticing pages of the catalogs may merely bring about the desire to unwisely and unnecessarily spend a little more.  (Note to self:  this applies to you, Meredith.)

Going through old harvest photographs will only exacerbate the symptoms, I discovered today.  By the time I reached the photo above, I just had to stop myself from going any further.

“This is madness, Meredith,” I whispered, only glancing far enough down the thumbnail-sized archives to realize that I couldn’t stand the torture of mouthwatering shots of heirloom tomatoes piled in haphazard fashion on my counter top, a bounty of unique shapes and colors that by late August I was treating oh-so-casually.

According to the calendar produced by the university for this region, I could be direct sowing peas, mustard, radishes, and spinach and putting in the cabbage transplants by now.  The weather is not cooperating, however.

My organic cabbage transplants were delayed by the massive snow storm that fouled up the shipping all over the continent last week, and my early pea planting probably didn’t survive two successive freak snows here.  In my heart, I like to believe that they made it through on nothing but my warm thoughts and will sprout forth any day now; but in my head, that seed is wasted, and I’ll need to resow again soon — definitely before March 15th, if I’m going by the calendar.

When I saw blue skies this morning, I thought I’d sow a little spinach at the very least.  Maybe some radishes, too.  It was a bit chilly when I went outside, but I hardly expected to find the top inch to two inches of the ground frozen, crusty and inflexible.

I stared at it in disbelief, feeling betrayed.

This is a region of South Carolina that is supposed to be even warmer on average than where I lived in Atlanta, for goodness’ sake.  It is February 17th, and I am ready to get my hands dirty now.


I know I sound like a silly brat, but perhaps God sits up and notices when you put something in italics.  (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were true?  I’d write the longest italicized piece in history.)

The strangest part is, I was less impatient a month ago.  You’d think the intensity would dissipate as we approach the end of the dormant season, not grow into a fierce tempest within the core of my being.  Wouldn’t you?

And here I’d always heard that gardening was supposed to make one learn patience.  I guess that only applies when one is actually gardening, and not during the off-season.

Or maybe it’s just me.

33 Responses to “it’s just me”

  1. I completely understand! I’m experiencing the same symptoms and, living in northern Missouri near the Iowa border, have tons more weeks of withdrawal to suffer. Your harvest photo was beautiful!!

    I hate not being able to wander garden centers every day of every weekend, and rushing home to check on new growth at the end of the work day, work heels two inches deep in thick black soil. *sigh*

    I’m ready for vases of wildflowers cut from the garden and delicious tomato basil salads out of the backyard! It’s almost here!

    • Mallory, my heart goes out to you having to wait even longer. This is torture enough! I loved your description of heading out into the garden with your pumps sinking into the soil… sounds so delightful, and right about now, almost paradise. 🙂

  2. It is wonderful that you love it so much – that it is such a part of just who you are. The right time will be here before you know it, Meredith.

    • Lynn, I so like the way you see it, as though the fever is just an outgrowth of who I am. A very gentle, sensible and positive approach, and so very you, my friend. 🙂

  3. Patience – something I’ve always had in short supply myself. But just think how glorious it will be to play in the dirt again!

    • I’m having deja vu, Talon. Where did you and I discuss our mutual lack of patience before? I seem to recall it, but maybe it’s only that the fever is producing hallucinations now, LOL. 😉

  4. Off season is a dormant period, for plants to hibernate and shoot out their best little buds at the slightest indication of extra warmth. We, then are supposed to take a rest…… ~bangchik

  5. Dear Meredith, Oh dear. Do not please get down, although I can so well understand all your frustrations. It does, indeed, seem that this has been a particularly long winter, wherever one is, but it is very true to say that everything passes! I am sure that once everything warms up growth will be amazing and you will be rushed off your feet.

    • Dear Edith, you are so kind and encouraging, and I appreciate it. I think Great Britain has also experienced a terribly long and deep winter, as have we (something I would never have known before discovering the world of gardening blogs). That last sentence and the idea of being “rushed off [my] feet” really made me smile! 🙂

  6. Your beautiful harvest photos (Mardi Gras colors) are making me hungry 🙂

  7. Same here Meredith and your beautiful photo has made me even more restless 🙂

    • Anna, sorry to have exacerbated the symptoms. Sometimes I’m not sure what to put when I’m feeling this way, and I do feel like a spoiled brat whining about it when folks up in the Yukon are patiently waiting out their long season with the land totally swathed in white. 😉

  8. oh meredoth, i’m sorry your growing season has not started as planned. i hope your restlessness is eased soon.

  9. please excuse the misspelling of your name. typing one-handed with baby in lap 🙂

  10. I’m in SC too and our winter has definitely been colder than usual this year!

  11. Blue skies. I’ve seen pictures. It’s snowing again. But under all that snow are some mighty good looking hostas and ligulatia, sedum, and flowers that I know by color, if not name. And think, I won’t need to water till august. jim

    • Poor Jim, no blue skies. 😦 But I love the way you think of the snow-draped landscape! It’s such a holistic way of approaching the garden, a viewpoint as tender and beautiful in its own way as a bright summer bloom.

  12. Think of the native seed beds being nourished underground.
    Who plants a seed
    beneath the sod
    and waits to see.
    believes in God.

  13. purple beans?! i have never seen those before! oh, this makes me yearn for fresh produce. sniffle.

    • Oh, I’m so glad I got to introduce you to them! Elizabeth, meet Louisiana Purple Pole, an heirloom that tastes just wonderful and is a gorgeous plant, too, with the lush foliage having a slight purplish tone to it and the stems looking quite purple. The beans don’t stay purple once cooked, unfortunately, but turn green at two to three minutes, considered a built-in blanch indicator, a bonus for cooks who don’t like to use a timer. 😉

      Sorry for setting off the longing for fresh produce. 😦 We can sniffle together!

  14. It is strange how the frustration increases as the first sowing day draws nearer.
    I confess to having sown a row of lettuce, with old seed. I know they wont grow – but it made me feel better.
    Not long to wait now

  15. Patience, ha! We want rain. Soon. Not just 4 millimetres next time, thank you.

    • Diana, I hear you. Just this last season, we came out of a drought that ended up turning one finger of our nearby lake into a marsh-type ecosystem, drying up local wells, and causing dairy farmers just south of us to slaughter many animals when they could no longer take the dry heat. I hate drought!

      Actually, that makes me feel better about winter. Better the extra cold and a bit more moisture in terms of snow than another drought. I’ll cross my fingers for y’all over there!

  16. Hello Meredith,

    I agree that patience is a virtue, but it is non-existent when it comes to gardening ;^)

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