It’s the time of year when all things seem possible.  I dream of verdant growth, record harvests, perfect blossoms, and fruit unmarked by insect damage and snacking birds.   My wish list of seeds and plants is long and well over budget, yet still I dream.  I’ll grow long, tall rows of corn and salad greens so lush I’m forced to share with all my neighbors.  I’ll finish shaping and planting my herb garden.  I’ll grow a dozen varieties of tomatoes and all colors of bell peppers.  I will conquer the Colorado potato beetles and store enough of my favorite yellow-fleshed spuds to last me until spring.  The onions will grow huge, but stay sweet.  We’ll eat sweet peas and purple pod beans until we’re sick of them, and we’ll have no bugs on the cukes and no deer in the orchard. And this year, I’ll stay ahead of the weeds.

You’re believing all that, right?

In the short, gray days of mid-winter, the garden lies dormant . . . waiting.  I look out over the barren brown earth and dream these dreams.  I pull out the catalogs and make my wish lists.  I surf the web and make more lists.  Then finally, I get real.  I start paring down the lists, bringing the daydreams down to manageable size.  I look over my notes, think about last year’s successes and failures and the reasons I think a crop did well or failed.  I think about the weather, the bugs, the wildlife who like to snack, and the livestock who most certainly will snack, given the opportunity.  Then I turn to a fresh page in the notebook and start a new ‘to-do’ list.  #1 on that list is wiring poultry netting to the garden gate so the hens and ducks can’t slip between the metal bars and eat all the green tomatoes.  This year, I’m not sharing so much of the good stuff with them.

This year, I’ll also get the Early Sunrise coreopsis along the fence around my herb & rose garden.  I’m ordering a big bag of milled spagnum moss so I’ll have enough for the entire season’s indoor seed starting.  I couldn’t find any locally the last two years, and I lost several batches of seedlings to damping off, despite the precautions I’d taken.  That’s never happened when I used the spagnum moss.

Among my reliable favorites on my seed list for 2009 are: Better Boy, Juliet, Principe Borghese, & Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Tom Thumb lettuce, Waltham Butternut squash, Green Arrow Peas, Royal Burgundy beans, Jacob’s Cattle soup beans, Merlot lettuce for baby leaf production, Jericho & Plato romaines, Yellow Banana & Early Jalapeno peppers, Buhl & Country Gentleman corn, and Gigante d’Italia parsley.

New to me varieties I plan to try:  Coronado Crown hybrid broccoli, Lantern Mix snapdragons, Ambrosia & Athena melons (both recommended by a farmer who gifted me with some of his extras while I waited at the dentist’s office last summer), various dye plants, Red-tinged Winter lettuce, Revolution & Anuenue lettuce for warmer weather, and Garden Peach tomatoes.

And I swear, I’m not even opening that catalog of David Austin roses.  Must resist . . . .