"The difference between truth and a fairytale is what you see in the photograph in a seed catalogue and what comes up in your garden."
-Deb, South Dakota
This is a dangerous time of year for gardeners. If you are like me, you are mighty tired of the cold and the dark and are cheering for every minute of extra daylight we gain.
I search the garden for swollen buds and green bits poking through the ground. I am eager to get out and play in the garden and feel the rich soil run through my fingers.
The dangerous part is the seed catalogues that have come tumbling through my mail slot. There are plenty - full of colourful plates that show endless varieties and promise that this is the new and improved plant of the year and your garden will look like this!
Parched for colour and growth, I am ready to take a Sharpie to the catalogue and circle endless amounts. I'm sure they will produce just like the picture and be perfect in any location and, look, it's even cheaper if you buy a larger package - I'm sure I'll have a use for 160 or 300 of those seedlings.
The pictures show a vast array of one flower. But, there is something to be learnt here. More than one of something looks better. Remember the "odd" rule - plant in threes, fives and sevens and keep going if you've got the room. The more the merrier.
I have read of one woman who grew nothing but marigolds. Plain, old marigolds. She grew them in the ground, baskets and barrels. And from the pictures I saw, it DID look great. It cost her next to nothing, and she got great bang from her buck. They didn't mention, however, how she dealt with the slug population.
Another woman (sounds like we're the fanatical ones, girls) moved out of her bedroom and on to the living room couch for three months as her bedroom had better light for growing her seedlings. Well, we don't go that far in our house.
If you can share your seed order with a friend, it's a great economical way to shop. You can share the postage and usually half a package of seeds is enough for most people. Our last frost date here is about May 21, so look on the back of the seed package for instructions on when to plant.
If it says plant six weeks before the last frost date, count back six weeks from May 21. You can plant too early - and get very weak and leggy seedlings, so be cautious. Some folks sow a few seeds early, on the off chance of an early spring.
Our rule of thumb is order mostly what we've had success with before, and a few new things - just to keep it exciting.
But, there's nothing more exciting than spring!
Deb Brodie is a local gardener and a member of The Richmond Garden Club.