Monday, February 25, 2013

February blues

The last few weeks, I’ve had the February blues. There are several reasons for it, not the least of which is that I lost my oldest brother Neil the day before Valentine’s Day in 1995 and lost my mom a year ago this week. But my bouts with February blues date back long before it became a month of loss.

I enjoy all the seasons, but I like winter in late December when bare trees are a novelty and weather forecasters hint at the promise of snow every time a cloud comes out of the west.

By February, the sight of bare trees is about as welcome as my monthly light bill. I get a terminal case of cabin fever, and I long to fire up my ancient Ford tractor and plow something.

In years past, I bided my time by flipping through seed catalogs, drinking hot coffee, and reading Poor Richard’s Almanac. I’m always amazed at how smart old Ben Franklin was back then, and to think, he didn’t have Oprah, Duck Dynasty or the Internet.

I found a cure for the February blues this year by signing up for the Master Gardner Class at the Walker County Extension Center.

Apparently there were a lot of folks on the same tractor as me because the room was packed for the 13-week class. 

I’ve always been kind of a hack when it comes to gardening. Some years I would have a bumper crop, and then other years my garden was just sad. 

I’ve attended two classes and already I can see what I was doing wrong all those years. 

I had a gut feeling those numbers on fertilizer bags actually meant something and not simply there for decoration. But I was from the school that believed “the higher the number, the better the fertilizer.” As it turns out, those numbers are important, and when I learned their significance, a lightbulb went off in my head.

The first week we studied soils and learned why the soil in Alabama is so different from the soil in Kansas.

Farming in Alabama clay can be more challenging than it is in other parts of the country. The structure of soil here is different and having good gardens year after year requires thought, care and a lot of organic material put back into the earth.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll learn about plant botany, insect management, weeds, greenhouses, plant propagation, as well as tending fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. 

Many of the things about gardening that’s remained a mystery for me through the years should come into sharper focus during the coming weeks.

I could kick myself for not taking the class years ago, but taking the class while working full-time would have eaten up two weeks of vacation, which was more than I wanted to sacrifice at that time.

But I’m at a perfect place in my life, and the skills I learn will pay dividends for many years.

One immediate benefit is that my Master Gardener’s class has helped to beat the February blues.


  1. Anonymous9:29 PM

    I can't think of a better way to beat the winter blues than preparing for spring with greater knowledge of gardening!

    1. I had another great class today on fruit orchards. I love this class.

  2. Like I said before- I am so jealous of the master gardener's classes. I would love to be taking those classes. February has always been a month that dragged for me..and I think now it will be a blue month for me, too, with my brother passing away two weeks ago.
    Only a few days until March now- You can get through it! xo Diana

    1. I'm sorry about your brother. I somehow missed that when I visited your blog.

  3. I have a saying that goes like this: "Shortest line, longest wait"..that's the way it always goes with me. February is the shortest month but it always seems to be soooo long! When I was a kid it seemed long because my birthday was the last day and I couldn't wait for it. But now it's just a month that gets in the way of Spring! Many times Jack and I would hit the Cleveland Home and Garden show and smell the wonderful flowers and see all the gardens. It really was a quick pick-me-upper. I'm sorry for the loss of your brother and Mom. It really would make this month even harder. Jack's Mom and Dad both passed in Feb...Mom in 2000 and Dad a year's not a great month for him either. Your class sounds so interesting and I'm sure you'll have the nicest garden in let's hear a cheer for Spring!

  4. Growing; learning how to create abundance is a good way to beat to beat cabin fever. I'm sorry for your losses...April is my 'grieving month'.

  5. I get so tired of the cold weather when February hits... I always look forward to April here, even though we will have a lot of rain, the grass and trees start to bud and turn green.

    Glad you found something fun to do while you are waiting for the spring :)

  6. I have several friends who suffer from the February blues. I think you described it perfectly when you wrote of how the bare trees are no longer a novelty and the weather has become seeped in after 4 months. Luckily, Spring is only 3 weeks away :)

  7. My daughter just said, "Let's vote February off the calendar."
    I'd vote for that.

  8. February is the longest month of the year, as it never seems to end. I don't care what the numbers say, but it is true.

    Info on the gardening is valuable.

  9. What a beautiful way of beating the February blues... I love gardening.

  10. Rick, I think it is great you are taking this class during cabin fever blues. It is good to keep busy and interested in things after you retire. I hate gardening myself - but you go for it!

  11. That is so exciting! And the best therapy ever.

  12. gardening is a lot of fun and I know why they tell you to talk to plants because while you talk to them you see things and you help the plant along. You end up with a well loved magnificent Baby.
    They all become your babies to nurture and love and watch grow.


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