Winters here in the Midsouth are mercurial in nature, and blessedly short (at least compared to regions north and west of us.) January can bring bitter cold and snow one week, springlike temperatures (and a spring-esque thunderstorm) the next; in fact one is rolling through right now, complete with thunder and lightning.
But I know better than to let this week of warmer temps fool me – winter isn’t through with us, even though we’re almost through with January. (Wow – one month down already? We’ll blink and it’ll be fall again.)
This time of year, there’s much to do. The seed catalogs are starting an urgent drumbeat: it’s time to make the final selections for okra, lettuce, tomato and pepper seeds for the year, and get in orders for onion sets and potatoes. A ski trip next weekend to Perfect North will wrap up the month, and then it’s on to Groundhog’s Day, Valentine’s Day, a few more ups and downs on the thermometer and we’ll bid February a fond adieu, too.
March will usher in the start of gardening in earnest – planting peas and setting out cool season crops, and start hardening off the tomato and pepper seedlings for later in the month.
Last year’s garden was a complete bust. I set out tomato plants I drove to Jackson to buy from Marianna’s Heirloom Tomatoes, and then I walked away, doing almost nothing with them. I’m ashamed I gave my neighbor too much leeway in my psyche last year, but he and his Roundup sprayer apparently had a blast near my flower and herb border two summers ago, and I still see red every time I think about finding dry, crunchy stalks instead of dahlias and roses and thyme.
But I’m determined to shake off the funk and take back my garden spot this year, mentally and physically. I am longing for fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and just-picked bouquets for my table, and a pantry full of jars of tomatoes, pickles and jams next fall. So maybe I’ll also get some to-the-point “don’t spray” signs to post along the fence…