Friday, February 18, 2011


Last week I decided to put in a garden.

My commitment to growing food has ranged over the years from minimal to extreme...seventy-five tomato plants anyone? 

The last time I had a sizable patch, with good diversity of plants, was in 2004.  It was very satisfying.  I was self-sufficient. The hard work outdoors bolstered me against stress and I provided fantastic, unique, organic produce to family and friends...from my little "farm."  Bounty :)

Part of the reason that I don't garden all years is the amount of time it do it my way.  I don't use machines or takes a lot of time and labor...some of it back-breaking.  Of course, that's one of the reasons I love it.

I've seen my type of garden beds described as "lazy beds."  I don't turn the soil...just loosen it to the depth of my digging fork and shake out all the vegetation.  Then, I bash up the clods with a dirt rake, top with some compost and homemade organic fertilizer, and twist those in a little with the fork.  The beds take a fair amount of physical effort, but are easier than double digging and other intensive methods.

The other reason that my gardening requires commitment is that I prefer to grow everything from seed.  It's economical and allows me to produce open-pollinated, heirloom varieties that aren't available from my local garden center.  I also want to support seed companies that are saving many plants from extinction.  You have to grow and eat those veggies to prevent them from being lost forever.

Growing plants from seed means planning ahead.  In the case of last week, I started some seeds in flats indoors for plants that require a long, warm growing season in the ground...tomatoes, chiles, eggplants, okra.  Also, collards, oregano, parsley, celery, pennyroyal, lemon balm and bee balm...which prefer this kind of gentle start...and some basils, which I will use from pots inside until the weather warms up enough to sow more seeds directly in the garden.

It's good to see the flats, covered in plastic wrap for now, all lined up on their heating pads.  I makes me feel tune with the big, infinite cycle of things. 

It makes me optimistic.

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