Intuitive gardening.


Peas in flower - June 2010

I have to admit – for all my researching and garden planning – when it comes right down to it, I’m an intuitive gardener. Which essentially means that no matter what the planting charts and guides say, I don’t do anything outdoors until it “feels right”.

Last year, warmer weather in February and early March encouraged me outside to plant my early radishes, fava beans, lettuces at their scheduled time – it literally felt to me as though the earth was ready to receive my seeds when I put my hands into it, and thus I gardened earlier than many people suggested I should. What that meant was that when May and June turned out to be dismally cloudy, my plants already had a head start and for the most part flourished despite the wet late spring. I did lose several cucumber plants because I kept attempting to put them out despite the weather forecasts – but overall, my plants that were established in the slightly sunnier early spring had a head start on all those plants that weren’t seeded until May – and I know that made a huge difference in yield.

This year – it’s an entirely different story. With no mild air to herald spring around the corner just yet, I have been hesitant to even start my peas outside even though March is supposedly their planting time. Same goes for Favas (my fall crop froze over the winter) and radishes which I would usually be putting in right now. It’s just been too cold, and the earth here – while thawed – is close to freezing.  Additionally, we’ve had torrential rains and windstorms recently that would knock the growth of any struggling veggie back. So despite the planting guides and my ready-to-go plans – I’ve been hanging back and working on turning the beds in between downpours.

(I’ve also got this season’s planting grid worked out, my seeds organized, and some of my starts sprouting on the windowsill.)

I know I’m not the only one out there who “feels” for things rather than following the “rules” – and yet this discussion of intuition never comes up in the gardening books I’ve been reviewing. As though it’s just about this many weeks before or after frost and then *go get your seeds in* rather than checking it against what you sense is actually going on weather-pattern wise. I suppose to some degree that’s stuff that comes after a few years of gardening, and so the how-tos just aren’t going to cover it. Also, I think the authors don’t want to overwhelm people by encouraging too much right at the beginning.

In any case, my spidey-sense this year has said – “just wait a little longer” and I’m glad I listened to it. It certainly saved losses during that late-February snowstorm, and my pea shoots weren’t drowned in the monsoon last night. I’m waiting now on true spring to get at it…. not the one on the calendar, but the one in my bones.

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