Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Seasons, like so many other things do change. And in this inevitability the gardener learns that, like so many other things, we have very little control over nature. We nurture that which does not really require our intervention, but rather benefits us when we dote on them in a world that does not often dote. Other times we're reminded just us how little we matter when forgotten areas of the garden thrive, while the areas we meticulously care for refuse to give us satisfaction.
If anything, this is what I’ve learned of Henry Mitchell’s writing and that of other garden journalists who understand that the garden is not a place to control, but a place to give into and to enjoy should we be able to tolerate our own feeble attempts at playing God. That’s not to say that those who write of perfecting the art are misleading, because they are not wrong either. Having said that, once I realized that I am an observer as much as I am a participant, that I am a part of and a result of all this wonder I found that my love for the garden became deeper than I ever imagined.
It's with this unconditional love that I expand beyond my photos and exhaustive captions to this blog where I can document things in a different way. Even reading my old garden journal, a scrappy green spiral notebook intended to be my own almanac, but now a slew of ramblings about our family's journey into growing and manic plans of expansion, show a progression you never see when you're in the midst of it. And here I start, amidst the end of a great season, and the beginning of new one.
We look at the progression of seasons in such a linear fashion on the surface. A garden starts in early spring and lasts, if you’re fortunate, through late fall. Winter we slumber, and then start again, but to some of us it never ends. Winter, of all times, is a great time to plan and “plot”. As the snow blankets my mess of yard, and I forget just how bad I am about doing any sort of fall clean up (see above photo) , it feels as though everything slows to a crawl. But, we are still working down our harvest of Beauregard sweet potatoes from October of which I’m holding off on eating the best specimens to let grow out new tubers for next year. Elephant garlic (what's left of it) is typically hanging in the stairwell between my basement and garage; my tiny root cellar. Succulents and other indoor plants add a bit of color, a dream of spring in the kitchen, and my makeshift nurseries are being prepped for early spring seedlings. A crisp cleanse of the garden takes place in the winter, and then we see our first crocus.
Spring is synonymous with flowers, which we are so quick to embrace yet when it’s early April and I’m shoveling snow, I feel like maybe we should shift the start date forward a bit. Of course these things take time, and it’s not always the case in April. In the basement, seedling will be in full swing, some already embarking on their journey to the outside world. I’ve aquired quite a collection of cloches from old five gallon water jugs, and two forty gallon fish tanks I coincidentally broke already as not to be suitable for aquatic life, but makes a damn good cold frame especially when wrapped in bubble wrap. I’m hoping my hugel bed started last year will warm up early as it’s a high raised bed, and I plan to run plastic over top to get a jump start on some kaleidoscope carrots and romaine lettuce. Sun King broccoli and spinach would be next followed by peas and then next thing you know the strawberries we have over wintered will start putting out flowers. By the time spring plantings are all settled in I’m sweating to death in the middle of July wondering why I let all these random self sown tomatoes take over my life.
Seasons can change (and in NJ sometimes they can change back right in the middle of January), things can go terribly wrong, and sometimes pleasantly right. I will never have enough time or discipline to do all I want, and I’m very OK with this, perhaps for the first time. I wish everyone the best of luck this season, whatever season that may be (or feel like) for you wherever it is that you are.
And don’t forget to plant one more row (instagram #plantonemorerow) for donation in your area, and I’ll see you all soon!