Leap Day — A Gardener’s Dream Come True

Gardeners are active people. Our gardening tasks are part of our daily chores throughout the year. We’re most visible in the summer sun toiling in the warm soil and squatting among brilliant flowers. At the end of the growing season as the last blooms fade and the unpicked fruit freezes on the vine, there is always work left undone. Weeds, tools, hoses, and withered plants all need to be dealt with. Like many others I murmur to myself, I wish I had one more day.

Today is that day.

Leap years give us a leap day and it makes our gardening year just a little bit longer. For all gardeners who have wished for one more day to finish gardening chores, relish the gift on the calendar.

Gardeners in the southern hemisphere receive the day at an optimum time, as the prime gardening season draws to a close. Autumn is still about three weeks away but leap day extends its arrival by a precious 24 hours.

In the northern hemisphere spring arrives on March 20. That holds true this year and next, and the next, and so on, regardless of leap year status. It’s a nice quirk of our Gregorian calendar. While leap day adds one day to winter, a thought that some may find a bit depressing, it also gives us extra time for gardening planning and preparation.

I’m a firm believer in proper garden planning and preparation. One day spent wisely can save many days of wasted labor and effort. Leap day is a free day and if used well it can avoid squandered time.

Almost everyone will look at today as Wednesday, just another day of the week. We’ll go about our day doing what we normally do on Wednesday. Leap Year Babies, those who are born on February 29, will celebrate being one-quarter the age of the rest of us, but leap day is little more than a nice conversation starter for the majority.

I propose that gardeners use leap day as the extra gardening day we wish we had every year.

Use leap day for gardening. It may be a cold day with snow on the ground, but think gardening. The ground may be frozen and you’re weeks away from planting, but think gardening. You may be mired in mud, but think gardening.

If you haven’t ordered seeds for spring sowing, do it today. If you haven’t started plants inside and you’re about six weeks from the last frost, start seeds in pots today. If you plan to enlarge your garden but haven’t put your ideas on paper, draw a rough plan today. If your tools are still in a pile from the end of last year, organize and clean them today. If you have a major garden project in mind, start it today.

Focus on improving your gardening life. It’s easy to become a slave to daily winter habit patterns which ignore gardening thoughts and actions too often. Change that and take action today.

Many home gardeners don’t have the privilege of enjoying a free day in the middle of the week, but thinking about gardening isn’t limited by the calendar. You may not have the free time to spend hours on gardening chores today but you can plan your gardening activities and anticipate them soon. Look at this leap day gift as a part of a special week, a leap week if you will, and when your day off arrives treat it as leap day, your extra gardening day.

During leap years we may complain about the extra day of winter and the delay of spring’s arrival. When we’re sweating in the garden in the summer and early fall we will forget these thoughts and still pine for extra time to enjoy the season. Rather than complain twice about lost opportunity, take advantage of leap day. Take a task that a prime spring day might normally consume and do it on your leap day.

It’s cold and windy here but warm weather is on the way and I want to be outside when it arrives. Rather than waste a sunny day doing inside gardening tasks I’ll do some of those inside chores today. I’ll get a head start on spring gardening.

Today I’ll make more seed bombs. I’ll order from favorite catalogs. I’ll organize my workbench to prepare for making birdhouses. I’ll begin writing down my plan for which plants will go where in my vegetable garden.

It’s not a lot, only a few hours of activity, but it’s free time on a free day. It’s a day I didn’t have last year and a day I won’t have next year. I’m a gardener and I’m taking advantage of extra gardening time. It’s an opportunity too dear to pass up.

It’s leap day. How will you use it?

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