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I just talked to my brother Mark in Pennsylvania, and our 15-minute conversation was interspersed with his exclaiming . . .

“It’s sleeting.”

Then, a few minutes later, “It’s raining . . .”

And finally, “It’s sleeting again!”

It’s March and most people north of the Florida latitude are sick of winter. Suffering from S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder}, they are waiting to see the sun break through the winter blahs and unveil the crocuses and narcissus ready to pierce the soil.

Writer Linda Joan Smith had that feeling in mind when she said

Outside Snow’s dingy blanket may still muffle the stirrings of tulips and daffodils, and the pond may still be rimmed with ice. The reward of the garden must wait, but our gardening labors have begun. (“The Potting Shed,” The Traditional Home, March 2002)

Smith celebrates the potting shed, “the room that is as much a workshop to the gardener as the kitchen is to a cook.” She makes reference to the advice of John Claudius Loudon, who in his 1830s An Encyclopaedia of Gardening, recommends that proper potting shed must have light, air and warmth, including “a fireplace never omitted.” Smith’s article pictures two versions of the shed – an impressionistic one where there may not be precise order . . .

Illustration: James Staag, Traditional Home, March 2002

Illustration: James Staag, Traditional Home, March 2002

And one meticulously appointed where there is “a place for everything, and everything in its place,” (229) so says Mr. Barnes of Bicton Gardens writing in the1840s.

Photograph: Curtice Taylor, Traditional Home, March 2002

Photograph: Curtice Taylor, Traditional Home, March 2002

My blog friend Linda Hoye, who moved recently from the Pacific Northwest to Canada, is a gardener extraordinaire. In her blog A Slice of Simple Life she uses plastic gallon jugs for winter sowing:

Winter sowing is placing seeds outside, in the winter, in mini-greenhouses made from things like empty milk jugs. The plastic jugs protect the seeds from harsh weather while allowing the cold to toughen them up during the cold weather. When it gets warm enough inside of the little greenhouses the seeds germinate and become viable outdoor plants sooner than those started indoors because there’s no need to harden off the plants.

When you check out her post, you can see her mini-greenhouse project complete with a photo of the jugs in a tub.

Did I mention that Linda is innovative? Yes, indeed. She gives a blow by blow pictorial account of preparing a worm hotel – indoors. Knowing that worms aerate the soil, she nurtures them as help-mates in the growing process. Even she says, “Eww!” as she mingles coir mix, pumice and finely chopped veggie scraps topped with a damp newspaper before she moves the operation to the garage. Soon she will prayerfully tuck seeds, tiny flecks of hope, into dampened soil. Obviously, Linda has faith that “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” (Audrey Hepburn).

And gardener Hoye believes in whimsy too, as her creation of a fairy garden illustrates, anticipating spring in a post entitled “Spring is in the Air.

FairyGardenLHoye

Some Gardening Quotes:

“Outside there is water music as packs of snowflakes melt into water drops, merge into rivulets, trickle into puddles, then subside into pools and streams. The garden is mud, but no matter. Soon it will drain and dry in the strengthening sun.”  ~ “The Potting Shed,” The Traditional Home (March 2002)

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.“~ Margaret Atwood in Bluebeard’s Egg (1986)


In March 1985 my farmer parents, Mother and Daddy Longenecker, left wintry Pennsylvania and visited Florida where they couldn’t wait to get their hands into the soil. Soil that nourishes citrus trees, azaleas, and camellias is not necessarily good for hardy Lancaster County plantings. Daddy took one look at the sandy soil in my sister Jan’s huge back yard and ordered a load of chicken manure. After working it into the ground, he and Mother scored straight rows for planting.

Mother Ruth Longenecker sowing seeds in Florida

Mother Ruth Longenecker sowing seeds in Florida

Do you have gardening tricks or stories about gardening to share? Here’s your chance!

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