Hardening Off

Living in a new home has meant a new garden and a new gardening climate. From Texas to the Pacific Northwest, I’m now dealing with fewer temperature extremes, but I’m also working with cooler weather and a different rain pattern. I now own a stack of books to help me get started, and I’ve been quizzing master gardeners at every opportunity.

While fertilizing and composting the raised beds in my backyard (complete with deer fence, thanks to the sellers of the house), I’ve been growing seeds indoors under a grow light. In Texas, I just stuck my seeds in the beds, so this is a new experience.

So, too, is the term “hardening off.”

Basically, hardening off means I take my seedlings outdoors for a period of time and get them used to being outside, then bring them in. Each day I extend their time outdoors until they are ready to go into the ground and endure the elements.

I started hardening off my broccoli and onion seedlings. One day I kept them out a little too long, and my onions got droopy. I brought them in, frantic that I had pushed them too far, too fast. I was more careful the next day. Fast forward another four or five days, and they were hardy enough to stay out all day long. As of Sunday, they now have their place in the garden bed.

I’m feeling a bit like those onions. Each day brings new surprises and affirmation that moving to Washington was the right thing for us. Still, even a happy move, one born from choice and options, requires adjustment. I’m still tired from the move. I’m living in a lovely house that doesn’t quite feel like mine yet. Routines are changing, and I suspect that life is going to make many new twists and turns. I haven’t quite “landed” yet. Like the onions, I have gotten droopy from expecting too much, too fast.

Yesterday I began this year’s incarnation of the Colorado Cleanse, which I did on my own last year. The Colorado Cleanse is a two-week detox program that is gentle and safe, and is based on Ayurvedic principles. Through a non-allergenic diet, herbs, gentle yoga, breathwork, and meditation, the body and mind can embrace rejuvenation.

This time around, I am working with an online group rather than doing the cleanse on my own. For the next few weeks, my calendar is quiet. Friday, I get a much-needed massage. I’ve slowed the pace so that I will focus on one room per day, hanging pictures and finding places to put things. I’m looking forward to pulling back, turning inward, and adjusting to my new home. I’m also looking forward to the day when I feel fully planted here, but I know it’s going to take a little while.

The plants teach me so much of what I need to know about living. I wouldn’t dream of pushing those fragile little seedlings into the world before they’re ready. By waiting just a few days, the plants were much hardier, and they are now thriving outside. With the cleanse, with rest, and with giving myself time to explore my new home gently, I too am hardening off so that I can grow and bloom in my new life.


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