Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reflections For a New Year of Gardening

This weekend, I started seeds for this yea'rs garden. Which leaves me thinking a lot about last year's garden. Last year was the first year I had planted a vegetable garden. And by all standards it went well. There were mishaps -- I never learned the art of thinning, which was likely the reason my peppers never made much of themselves -- but truly, for never having gardened before I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of food I was able to harvest. Sadly, I didn't record much of what took place last year, expect with photos on my smart phone, which later crapped out. So this year, while I go through the very cyclical process of planting a garden from seeds again, I'll be intentional to write down my lessons and hope that is makes me a little wiser, and a little more confident. 

While out celebrating a very important birthday the other night, I overheard a conversation some friends were having. Both of them grew up on the plains of North Dakota, descendants of farmers, rooted with a more innate knowledge of what it means to work the soil than I. They were lamenting the lack of snow that has come down this winter, and making known their fears of an oncoming drought. (I confess, my plot of garden, is so small than I don't know if this really is something I need to be concerned about, but this is not my livelihood, so I kept quite.) Of course, I am as aware as anyone here in the Twin Cities that this winter has been a cakewalk. I mean, the high yesterday, March 17th, was 84 degrees, and to add insult to injury, I can't remember the last time it rained. But seated between these friends,  I gleaned the magnitude of their fears, to which I previously had not given much thought. The problem is that the ground is frozen and therefore any water we get now will just roll on down a slope and or into a basement. Snow seeps into the earth, deep into the places below us we are unfamiliar with. It makes soil ripe for planting. Through it, we are made hopeful for a year of abundance. But what is to happen this year? We haven't even had 10 inches of snow. 

Last winter, was a cruel, cold, dark, snow laden winter. It came at us with incessant persistence. By the time it was all over, we had received 86.6 inches of snow, it was the fourth snowiest winter on record. The spring gave little relief, it was wet, dirty, water logged, our basement flooded A LOT. Summer didn't show herself till 4th of July weekend. But still, the garden was good. The lettuce and spinach thrived in the cool weather weeks longer than I expected. Though it wasn't until early September, the tomatoes showed up in abundance, and with it came much joy and excitement. Was this success due to a harsh but wet winter? 

So much of the gardening experience is hindsight and it lends itself mightily to reflection  This year is still a mystery. Perhaps, the growing season will be long and hot and I'll actually get my peppers to grow, or maybe everything will be so dried out that the sun will only prove to be that much more harsh. As Michael Pollen says, in Second Nature, "in a few months, summer will pass judgement on the merit, or folly of our January [or in my case 'March'] schemes, but right now anything seems possible." Whatever it is, I am so excited to find out.

All that aside, one of things I love most about gardening is that it is so real in your hands. The part I get to play is physical, and full of dirt and mud and high hopes. Which brings us to this weekend, in which I have sowed the first seeds for this years garden. Here they are, in their newly planted glory.

Vegetables - 

  • Tomato - Roma - NEW
  • Tomato - Black Pearl Hybrid
    • Also had for year one - very successful & delicious
  • Tomato - Burpess’s Big Boy Hybrid
    • Also had for year one - very successful & delicious

  • Hot Pepper - Jalapeno M - NEW

  • Onion - Red Delicious Hybrid
    • Also sowed year one -but was unsuccessful - was never able to be transplanted.

  • Pepper - Carnival Mix
    • Also had for year one - unsuccessful, I suspect it was due to the summer being too cold & short. Also, I planted zucchini next to it and didn’t thin properly so they suffered shade for several weeks before I got on the thinning band-wagon.

Flowers - This will be my first experience starting flowers from seedling.
  • Lavender
  • Marigolds - How awesome are those seeds?

Oh, and the most exciting news of the weekend. The garlic I planted in the fall is breaking out of the ground!

As are the Picasso Tulips!

Have you started your seeds? Or noticed anything in your yard starting to sprout? Hopefully you are out in the yard now, making the most of this beautiful day.

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