Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beat Those Winter Blues!

About this time of the year, the sun decides not to show its face very much. The weather gets gray...the ground gets gray...people get gray...I don't know why they call it the "winter blues." It should be more like the "winter grays!"

Thankfully, I'm an avid gardener and I think it helps me not succumb to those gray-times. Starting around Christmas, my mailbox is visited by the most wonderful things - the spring seed and plant catalogs! They are filled with pictures of plants that grow in green and sunny times. Oh, how I browse through those catalogs and dream of those halcyon days of Summer and my fingers working in the dark rich Earth!

Ok, I freely admit it, I am a plant-junkie. But you know, it's not a bad thing to be. I know how to grow my own vegetables. I know how to identify many of the plants and trees around me. I know many wild, edible plants as well as the poisonous ones to avoid. I know how to grow, harvest, and use many herbs, both culinary & medicinal. I know the "invasive" plants that should be eradicated for other flora as well as fauna. And best of all, I can share that knowledge with the young people in my life.

There's a quote in the video "Get 'em Outside" by the "No Child Left Inside" group that says young people can identify 1000 corporate logos but fewer than 10 plants and animals native to their backyard. That is sad. How can you care about the world around you when you know so little about it?

So here's my winter blues beater suggestion: plan to grow something this year. Start your planning now. Check out seed and plant catalogs - many places will send them to you for free. Even if you buy local (which I always suggest!), the catalogs are great ways to learn and plan.

If you haven't gardened before, start small. Try a patio tomato. Or some marigolds. Anything easy that has appeal for you.

If you live in an apartment or have limitations on your mobility, container gardening is just the thing. Here's a great forum to ask questions on container gardening.

Already a gardener? Grow some vegetables. They taste great and many are easy as well as attractive in the garden.

Veggies not your thing? Then try growing native plants. Native plants are the plants that are indigenous to this region. They are wonderfully hardy and ideally suited to grow here. If you are an experienced gardener, this symposium on designing with native plants may be of interest.

In all your planning, make sure to stay as "green" as possible. I wrote an article on green gardening, Things to Make your Garden Greener, that may help you get growing green.

And finally, please share the beauty and wonder of this great Earth with the young ones in your life. Or share with students at a local school, at a library, or perhaps even in a community garden. I have had the opportunity to present rocks & minerals, fossils, and wild edible plants to primary and elementary school kids. I can't tell you the excitement there was to see, to touch, and to ask questions. The students were fully engaged and learning. You don't have to be an expert - a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of love for the subject matter is all you need!

So get planning and dreaming of warmer days to drive away those gray days of winter!


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