February 1, 2013 @ 7:05 AM

Getting Ready for Groundhog's Day 

February 1 ~    

February 1st is seen as the beginning of the end of deep winter. Tomorrow, Groundhog's Day, as we know it, is also known as the Celtic holiday of Imbolc. In Europe, many farmers begin tilling. Here in the Northeast, it is  windy, blustery and later today--snowy, so we are not so far along yet--but gardening is definitely on our radar as we get our seed and plant orders together. But, first things, first!!

It is a very old tradition to get ALL of the Yule greenery out of your house before Feb. 2nd, so that was how this morning started...taking down all the cedar roping and cedar/holly and rosehip arrangements. They are all deposited in separate plastic bags (including many branches of my tree), waiting to be used in a variety of future projects: ground into powder for soaps, candles or incense; stripped off their stems for potpourri, or teas (NOT the holly), put in amulet bags for ritual use (YES, the holly). Afterwards, all the spent stems can be used as fire starters. But, they have all been removed from the house and are safe in a dry barn. My plan was to be able to have a bonfire tonight, to burn this year' tree, but it is too windy, so that may need to wait until Spring Equinox.

 Spring whispered yesterday--upper 50's, rain, thunder!! Today, all I hear is a roar of wind, it is barely 30 and we will be getting snow. I am never in such a hurry for Spring. I enjoy, not feeling guilty about sitting around reading ( I am more of a thinker, rather than doer) and I see the benefits to my ecosystem of a long, cold, snowy winter--no drought, less bugs and healthier plant growth come summer. So, today, I am going to honor what is left of winter, settle by the woodstove, complete the seed order and sip big mugs of tea.

I have looked through all the glorious catalogs and discarded them to the giveaway piles at local libraries. I am left with my 4 favorites: Fedco Seeds, Territorial, Bakers Creek and Miller's (for fruits/shrubs). I'm in a no nonsense mood, so I WILL show restraint!!


Before ordering seeds--if you have lots of older packets and don't want to throw them out, TEST them to see how viable they are. It is good to be frugal and use up things before buying new, but we alo need success in the garden. Some seeds aren't as agreeable--some are. A lot of it depends on how you store them the rest of the year. Kept, cool, dark and DRY, they may last several years or more--but viability will decrease, making it necessary to plant more seed to get the same results--which ends up helping you get rid of that old stash! To test:

1) Put 10 seeds on a damp paper towel, fold towel over and then enclose in a zip lock bag. Put in a warm, DARK place. after a few days check germination. If only 3 sprouted--you need to plant 3X the seed to get the amount of plants you need; if 5 sprouted, you need to plant 2X the amount...and so on.

2) If you have a greenhouse/cold frame/hoop house and want to actually start seeds really early (like for annuals and some perennials), it is always helpful to soak them before planting. In doing so, you can also tell which are viable. Depending on the amount of seed you are soaking, but them in a big enough container to cover with 3-4 inches of water. After a few hours, there will be some seed floating on the top--those are no good--skim them off. Leave the rest to soak overnight and plant in good sterile soil the next day.

Personally, I am hoping for 6 more weeks of winter. The groundhog is usually correct, so tomorrow,  we will know.