BONNERS FERRY — With the recent blanket of snow that fell on Boundary County, residents may ponder the coming of springtime. Warmer weather, sunshine, most likely a lot of rain, but most of all, the return of life. Flowers will soon be poking their first greens above the ground, seasonal wildlife will return, and new life born as the animals bring their young into the world.
Springtime also brings rejuvenated feelings. The increase in sunshine accompanied with the decrease of snow, the air is warm, the smell of rain and wet soil, may be refreshing.
Where the lack of sunlight increases the body’s production of melatonin, a chemical produced naturally by the body that brings the feeling of drowsiness, the increase of ones exposure to sunlight induces the body to produce serotonin, which uplifts the mood and energy levels. Also, with the warmer weather and increased energy levels as the cold winter comes to a close, is increased outdoor activities, which, in turn, produces endorphin, boosting energy levels and mood.
With the local community united in different forms of self-sufficiency, the most common is that many local residents grow plants that provide food or herbs, which assist in sustaining themselves and their families.
For those community members that grow food producing plants, this time of year marks the time of garden planning, and in some cases, growing plant starts indoors. Knowing what to plant and when is important to growing a fruitful garden. In Boundary County, residents may experience a couple of weeks of warm weather, see the flowers and life return to the area, and think it is safe to plant or transplant. When considering this, gardeners should bear in mind that Idaho weather can be unpredictable and an out of season frost overnight could kill any crops planted. Being prepared with means to cover the plants, keeping an eye on the weather, among other preparations, will keep the crops from dying.
Greenhouse planning is also something to consider when planning a garden. Some people build their greenhouse next to their house on the side that gets the most sun, and utilize vents from a heat source such as a clothes dryer or wood stove to keep their plants warmer during cold days and nights.
Some gardeners choose to use raised beds, which provide a place to grow that is elevated, may warm up faster, and one can utilize a cold-frame. A cold frame is a piece of framed glass which, when set at a southern angle, allows starts to stay warmer until late spring. One may also make a removable greenhouse frame, bringing the gardener a more inexpensive, yet successful greenhouse, without the need to transplant.
When planning a garden, one should consider the food choices that they use on a regular basis, as gardening can yield much more than expected. Many people utilize food preservation methods such as canning, dehydrating, and freeze drying. Other community members sometimes donate or sell their extra produce.
Another reason to be mindful of plant choices, is the climate and elevation, as some plants don’t grow as well as others in this county. Having the knowledge of the climate and it’s planting season, as well as having a growing plan, are the key starting points.
Something that gardeners all around may attest to, is trial and error. There are plants that, under controlled circumstances such as a greenhouse, may grow large and fruitful, may not grow outdoors. The choices are immense, and having a set plan will make the gardening routine quicker, less costly, and more fruitful.
The resident gardeners of Boundary County have, over the previous years, donated heirloom seeds to other community members. They allow some of their plants to go to seed, harvest them, and disperse them to the community over various means. This practice encourages residents to garden and provide themselves with food as well as building a community of gardeners that won’t need to buy seeds. Using heirloom seeds ensures that those seeds will be fruitful, and the plants that grow will produce good seeds that may be used in the future. When a plant’s seeds are harvested, there tends to be an overabundance, which is where seed sharing comes into play.
As winter wanes to a slow close, plants spring back to life, and residents of Boundary County unthaw and bring bright smiles along with the sun. Happy gardening!