With the farm asleep under a thick blanket of snow, the holiday season behind us and spring ahead of us, we've fallen into a comfortable routine of farm chores: ploughing snow, taking care of animals (poop, scoop, repeat) and tending to the wood furnace.
Since we've found ourselves in something of a mid-winter lull (or is it the eye of the storm perhaps? I’m not sure) I thought it was a good time to start putting plans together for spring.
And I've got to admit – it’s got me feeling a bit overwhelmed (though spending too much time in the planning stage has never served me very well. Let's just say I could be the poster child for the the expression, "Get out of your head and into your life.")
For anyone who’s been reading since the beginning, yes, it doesn't take much for me to get feeling overwhelmed. And for those of you thinking to yourself, “For goodness sake’s girl, stop worrying so much and go plant yourself a tomato,” you’re probably right.
But here’s the thing. While I've always loved poking around in the dirt, our backyard at our house in the burbs was all shade. Any vegetables I started from seed (some tomatoes and herbs, I think a bean plant or two) were stuck in pots and shuffled around to chase the meagre rays of dappled sunlight.
While it’s possible to cultivate amazing container gardens, my veggies never did very well (my shade garden was quite lovely though, filled with hostas and bleeding hearts, impatiens, hydrangeas and bee balm.)
At the farm, the sky is truly the limit and I’m faced with loads of decisions and choices – heirloom seeds versus hybrids, early, mid or late season varieties (or all three), what veggies should I plant with which flowers, how should I configure my beds and when will I ever find the time to figure out a drip irrigation system fed by rain barrels?
You might argue, that’s just logistics. And technically, it is. But that’s not so apparent once you’ve made cultivating a garden much more significant that just poking around in the dirt and growing for the sheer pleasure of it.
With all this talk of climate change, peak oil, long food miles, tainted produce and food recalls, factory farming, GMOs, not to mention the words “global economic downturn,” I’ve decided that becoming more self-reliant isn’t simply a lifestyle choice – it’s a necessity.
Now do you see where the “overwhelmed” part comes in?
I'm looking to make the “right” decisions and "optimize my prospects for success". (Remember, recovering type-A personality here.) And yet with each gardening book, magazine and seed catalogue I read, I find myself getting worked up into a bigger and bigger tizzy.
Then just this morning, I read this passage in the book, “Crockett’s Victory Garden”:
What a lovely, simple message: it’s about gardeners doing their part.
“There is no mystery about gardening, just the wondrous fact that seed time and harvest occur each year, generation after generation, wherever the soil is tilled.
If gardeners do their part, they can confidently expect the miracle to continue as it has through all time.”
What I like about this passage is that it appeals to the activist in me -- do your part for the cause (think Victory Gardens from the war years) -- but it’s also about just doing your part in the garden. Show up, start small, revell in the successes and learn, graciously, from the mistakes.
That's what I got out of it, at least.
Now if you'll excuse me, I’m off to go find a seed catalogue and write me a veggie wish list for this year’s garden. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it, all in the name of doing one's part.
In the meantime, if anyone would like to share their experiences with their first veggie garden, I'd love to hear all about it!