|Gardening has become an important part of feeling at home for me. It allows me to have something to care for throughout the year. Plants grow at a pace that makes me remain patient and allow the flowers or vegetables develop at their own pace. I have some control, but mostly it's the rain, dirt and sunshine doing all the heavy lifting. And the plants just grow. They are so resilient. But sometimes plants fail, sometimes for no reason and sometimes because my cat was using the garden as his personal toilet (note: cat poo is not a fertilizer). That element of giving in to the timeline of the seasons rather than my own need for instant gratification keeps me sane.
This is my third season of growing my own garden of mostly annual flowers and just a few vegetables (priorities). Before, I lived in cities and apartments, where I longed for a big patch of earth to sow some seeds in. This year, for my birthday, my husband built me four 3 x 6 foot raised beds (best gift ever!), but my birthday is in September which is close to the end of the growing season...or so you might think. Hardy annuals are my new best friends. You put the seeds in the ground in the fall, and they put on some growth through winter. Then they are ahead of the game in spring and you get blooms so much earlier than if you had planted them in early spring with everything else! I also love having something alive to take care of in the winter. It keeps me sane when everything else looks dead. Win win win. There is hardly any maintenance required, just keep them under a frost cover if the temps get below 20 degrees.
WATER: Water evaporates very slowly in the cold months, so no hauling out the hose in the snow. We’ve had a really nice and rainy spring, so I’ve hardly watered the beds at all. When you first put the seeds in the ground, make sure that they stay pretty well watered until they get going.
NUTRIENTS: Since these were my new birthday raised beds, I could control how the soil started. I put in an organic garden soil with a good mixture of compost and fertilizer mixed in as well. I threw a little fertilizer on the developing plants as the weather started to warm up. And voila! Flowers!
Hardy annuals are a specific group of annual flowers that can take a frost. This year I planted these varieties: larkspur, poppies, anemones, bells of ireland, bachelor buttons, love in a mist, scabiosa, chocolate queen anne's lace, bupleurum. But other varieties include sweet peas and ranunculus, calendula, snapdragons, and stock. Bulbs like daffodils, tulips, and iris should also be planted in the fall.
I get my seeds from anywhere seeds are sold (I have an addiction!), but there are three main sources that I’ve had the best success with:
Johnny Selected Seeds
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
I also love to browse and buy seeds locally at Freckled Hen Farmhouse and the Ozark Natural Foods Homestead store.
So next fall, when everything is on it’s way out, plant a few of these hardy annuals. Your future self will thank you!