Seed packets are tiny perfect jewels of graphic design. On the front there is a romanticized illustration of a freakishly perfect tomato; it is round and looks sun-warmed. So unlike the cardboard tomatoes we have been buying all winter at the grocery store. On the back there are instructions about sowing the seeds after all danger of frost has passed. I can tell you that those frosts are still a danger. I have lost four geraniums to my misguided enthusiasm, and belief that spring is right around the corner. I am ready to hang up the turtlenecks, and get out in the garden.
I have been waiting all winter for this – I admit it. I have been thumbing through seed catalogues and feverishly imagining my new and improved sunny, raised garden bed, fecund and lush and spilling over with cukes, and beans, and sun-warmed tomatoes. I have been thinking about all those tender, fresh, aromatic herbs that I will manage to coax along this year. I have picturthe the extra little flourish and the modest bow I will take when I humbly present our salad greens at the Fourth of July picnic. Envisioning how I will please, delight, and amaze Mr. Friday when I whip out a fresh, homegrown shallot for the salad dressing. I am still considering how I will take revenge on the idiot neighbor who mows his lawn on Sunday mornings – zucchini is the perfect passive/aggressive payback.
So let’s get hopping! These tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cabbage, beans, lettuce, beets, carrots, and radishes will not plant, water or weed themselves!
It’s time for a little elbow grease action – which is much more healthier than hot yoga. But don’t get so enchanted by the beauteousness of the seed packets to take on more than you can chew. Buy a few easy veggies, and a couple of happy flowers. Marigolds or nasturtiums go well in both a vegetable garden, and in the salad bowl.
I have learned over the years with my sandy back yard, and my short attention span, that I am easily distracted and disappointed. Now I keep my exposure to a minimum. I am happiest (and most successful) with a little container garden. I have fresh herbs and I do a couple of tomato plants every year. I am upping our game with a couple of blueberry bushes I have planted in the ground. We now have a blueberry farm. Maybe if I remember to water every day they will have a real shot at making it to the table.
I had a successful little run with lettuce a couple of years ago. We had a few awfully fresh salads. I doubt if it was very cost effective to wrangle my own little Bibb lettuces, but it felt so good to wander outside with the kitchen shears, and judiciously snip a leaf here, another leaf there, and know the salad was good and fresh, and I was leaving modest carbon foot print. Obviously I do not factor in the air pollution generated from multiple trips to the garden center…
If you do not feel not up to the responsibilities of growing your own vegetable garden this season, now that the snow has melted, and the daffodils are popping up every where, please think about supporting your local farmers at farmers’ markets and farm stands and CSAs. They were cool (and essential) long before Brooklyn and all its mustachioed, plaid-sporting, artisan, organic, heirloom, microcosmically hip farmers, soap makers, tanners, butchers, chicken farmers, bakers and baristas. We like homemade and all the virtues associated with it.
It is oh, so very pleasant to wander outside in your jim-jams on a summer morning, pausing to watch the sun rise, while munching meditatively on a dewy green bean that you have just twisted off a vine, before you ever have a cup of coffee or read the newspaper. Instagram cannot replicate that real delight. Honest.
“From December to March,
there are for many of us three gardens:
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind’s eye.”
– Katharine S. White