Spring Seed Starting, and Stalling

I won’t be starting any seeds indoors this Spring. No quiet expectation. No lifting up my daughter so she can see. No careful spritzing or gentle bottom-watering.  It’s a sad truth that I’m learning to cope with. It’s a struggle to find the time to do the things you love when there are so many distractions, so many other things that need to be done. Are you in the same boat?

My husband and I thought about going away on vacation but kept putting off planning it. Suddenly it was March and I realized that if we were going to go, then I can’t start any seeds because we’d be going at a time that careful attention (and a little obsessing) is required, lest the poor tender seedlings whither and die of neglect.

Here it is the second week of April now and I’ve finally raised the white flag of surrender: I took down the grow tent. I concede defeat. My hope is gone.

But all is not lost, is it? In only a few short weeks it will be time to sprinkle out those hardened peas into small furrows, to scatter the scratchy carrot seeds along a twisted path. (My inability to plant in a straight line amuses other people.)

In the meantime … We’ve decided to postpone our vacation until July. Do I have time to start tomatoes? Yes! Oh, wait, packed away the tent.

Plan B – Picking up the Pieces

Why do I “never” get the chance to do the things I love? For one thing, it’s not true. It may occur rarely, but not never. And the truth of it is that it’s all on me. I make enormous lists of Things To Do and those task lists become more sacred than scripture. I put off planning that vacation until it’s too late to book the time off work, but since I’ve also put off starting seeds on the chance that we do travel somewhere, I also miss out on those sweet seedlings. Both have been sacrificed on the alter of the To Do List.

Struggling to find time to do the things I love is hard. Having a child makes me realize how precious time is. In reality, it’s very rare that I “find” the time. If I don’t make the time, even going so far as to schedule it, it doesn’t happen. The To Do List takes over.

More and more I realize that refilling the tank of resources that makes me me is just as important for a satisfying life than taking care of my daughter, having a meaningful career, having a good home and feeding my family. Spending time on gardening, or hobbies, or rebuilding old car engines (if I did that), writing, or even just reading a book are all necessary. And sleep. Glorious sleep. So important. 

Despite the occasional snowstorm or flurry this week, Spring is coming. There are Snowdrops growing in the front yard – so I have proof. There is much to be done. Come the long weekend in May I’ll need to have cleaned up the garden of last year’s leftovers and have it ready for planting. This is a time consuming process, and I need to schedule the time to make it happen. Weather-willing, there are 5 weeks between today and the long weekend in May, when it’s mostly safe to plant outdoors here (Zone 5).

Spring Clean-up Tasks:

  1. Draw up a plan. Planning should definitely be number one, and not the type of plan that I abandon the moment I step outside.  I can do this by the end of April. I have time to spend on this while commuting (I take the train) and also on weekend mornings.
  2. Cut back last year’s leftovers. I leave a lot of the perennial growth on over the Winter in order to provide some seeds for birds to nibble on when the pickings are slim, and to offer some nesting materials in the Spring. Over the next few weeks this will need to be cut back (I leave some in the compost pile for nesting season.) It’s a big job that will need to be done over several days and usually takes a few weekends to accomplish entirely. I’ll need to start this weekend, perhaps spend an hour or so on Sunday, although more snow and lower temperatures are in the forecast.
  3. Divide and Separate. This year, I’m putting in a small pond. I started moving plants around to make space for this addition to the yard in the Fall, but there is much still to be done. I will have to get this done the weekends of May 5th and 12th.
  4. Dig pond. Plant pond plants. May 12th weekend and into May 19th (long weekend)
  5. Plant annuals and veggies. May 19th-21st.

Each of the tasks listed will need to be broken down into manageable pieces that I can accomplish in short bits of time – 15 minutes here and there, an hour or so if I can squeeze it in.

Forget finding the time to do the things you love. Schedule it. Make it a priority. It’s the only way it will happen. 

JCCarnegie Written by:

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