Gardening through winter life in the Northwest is all about survival. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and I’m here to tell you, it’s no joke! At times I feel a little blue during winter, but that’s really not the problem. The problem is feeling like I’m walking through invisible Jell-O for a large chunk of time every year. Sluggish, low energy, tired, and muddled.
Fighting Winter Blues
Before you say it, yes, I’ve tried lights. They help, but only a little. I’ve found that any lights are good, as long as they’re as bright as possible and that fancy bulbs or full-spectrum lights really aren’t any better and don’t justify the high price (your mileage may vary). I have so many bright lights in my office, I’m pretty sure you could see my house from outer space. Without them, it would be very difficult for me to get any work done.
When it comes to satisfying my garden itch, I basically just want to get through the winter. My body wants to hibernate. It wants to read books, watch TV, and eat carbs. Everything is a challenge. I don’t want to go out. I force myself to be social because I know it’s important.
Winters are unpredictable here in the high desert. Sometimes they’re extremely difficult and the blizzards come one after the other, while other winters (like last year) are mild. Either way, they are long.
In February, the days begin to get a little longer and I feel hopeful. Spring is around the corner! This is when I pull out the seed catalogs and start thinking about what plants I want to start on the seed-starting shelf unit that my husband built a few years ago. Some seeds, such as geraniums and calibrachoa, need to be started earlier- ideally by mid-February. I start petunias, lobelia, and zinnias around late March.
The SAD symptoms take time to fade, but tending seedlings gets me up and moving. Before I know it, it’s June and the seedlings are ready to move outdoors. Everything looks brighter again.