food, garden

Nine below

bean pod

Boat Full o' Hope

Last evening, Steve asked me what five things I’d like to grow in the garden this year. I balked. “Does it have to be edible?” “No.” “And I have to think of five?” “Okay, let’s come up with five, together.”

Overall, we had a good garden year, last summer, though the tomato vines were on a clock of their own – in the end, they performed feats of ursine strength on the tomato cages, twisting them into fantastic and yet not so helpful sculptures, and delivering ridiculous volumes of fruit so late in the year that many of them never ripened in time to eat. We grew our first beautiful and tasty beets and carrots (on the 2nd try), though our pepper crop was weak: we received our first lesson in crop rotation. The tomato plants shaded our beloved basil crop for most of the summer, and the spinach and arugula went to seed darn near before much greenery developed. For most of the summer, I was in no mood to do much weeding, though the fact that the middle of the summer delivered a lot of rain, may have been part of that disinclination to play in the garden.

I did grow some spectacular sunflowers, whose skeletons are still standing out in the snow, with their big, tired heads gently bowing in reverence to the end of the growing season. Under the snow, there be likely villages of future sunflowers, hiding in the hundreds of seeds that tumbled from the flower heads. Cleanup will not be easy.

And while home-grown tomatoes are the single most strong argument for growing your own vegetables, they behaved so badly that I’m abdicating: Steve can be their tender, next year, if we grow them again. I still have little desire to eat one.

We also grew “Jacob’s Cattle” bush beans, for the first time. They sprouted up, podded up, and produced the goods so quickly (while I was away in July for 10 days, it seemed). It was such a pleasure to be able to save them until January, to eat.

So, the first plant I mentioned yesterday was beans, possibly the same variety again, this year. We ran through the five, together: bush beans, tomatoes, basil, parsley, and carrots. Then, added radishes, lettuce, and chard.

The discussion ended, with nary a seed catalog consulted. We still have 4.5 months before it’s safe to plant anything out there, and even though it may be wise to get some seeds started indoors, in the next month or so, the winter cold and dark was still just a little too formidable.

It wasn’t until just now, that I actually desired to bother growing them, however. Somehow the thought of digging my fingers into soft, fully thawed earth, sticking a colorful little bean or tiny seed down in there, then nurturing it up into the air and helping it grow into something edible is finally appealing to me, on this, the coldest day we’ve had so far, this winter. What the hell? It’s negative nine, out. I have no desire to set foot outside my door. But thoughts of teeny tiny symbols of life and growth inspire me, today. Perhaps it’s time to place a seed catalog order.