White Rain and a Hardening Heart

On the heels of the backyard iceberg finally disappearing, we’ve been experiencing some white rain showers for the last few days. Since it melts as it hits the ground, I see no need to toss the S word around, so I will leave it at that.

It all gets considered though, when figuring out the optimum day to seed the garden. I used to wait for the May long weekend, but that can be way later than necessary. I have learned to take my cue from nature instead of the calendar.

When the dandelions are in full bloom, it is time to put in the cool weather seeds such as peas, carrots, beets, turnips, onion sets and even potatoes. When the trees have leafed out, it is usually safe to put out the tougher transplants, provided they have gone through the hardening off period of being set outside for increasing lengths of time.

Hardening off plants is an important step to a successful garden and one that is a case of do as I say, not as I do. I completely suck at the process. Oh, I start off setting my darlings out on a sheltered porch for a couple of hours before rushing out to anxiously whisk them back inside, just like a good gardener should. But alas, in only a few short days it all falls apart. The darlings are forgotten and accidentally left out for the entire day. Usually before the first week is even over, I get up one morning and remember I forgot to bring them in the night before. The same seedlings I carefully purchased, sowed, labelled, watered, fertilized and fussed over for weeks, are left thoughtlessly abandoned like so much compost.

Of course I rush right out, oh so sorry and full of apologies, but the plants are having none of it. There they are, sitting on the porch, shoulders hunched, looking weary of it all before the season has even properly begun. Some years it is worse. Far worse. I rush out to find frost has had its way with them in the night. You’d think I would learn.

Sometimes spring gets away on me and I end up skipping the hardening off process altogether and just plant them out in the garden straight from the greenhouse or grow lights.

I watched a vlog recently where the gardener said he doesn’t bother with hardening off. He likened his method to taking the plants out in the woods and handing them each a knife and a packet of matches and saying, “Let’s see what you’re made of. I’ll be back in a couple of days to check on you.” As terrible as it sounds, I can identify.

One of the zillion great things about plants, is that they are resilient. They don’t even need knives or matches. They are designed to grow and to produce and will overcome all kinds of crazy odds to make that happen. Don’t think for a second I’m not grateful for that. But it is so much better for all concerned if you do things right and help them along. That is how bumper crops are made.

Maybe this will be the year I harden my plants off properly and they start the year with robust enthusiasm and no need for any disappointed withering glances in my direction. Or knives or match boxes. With age comes wisdom and all that. Unfortunately, with age comes forgetfulness as well. It could go either way really.

So long as the rain stops coming down white, everything should be okay. Sort of.

P.S. This morning the white rain is no longer disappearing as it hits the ground. I am now calling it rain dust. Or rain frosting. But, and this is important, I am still calling it rain.