There are so many beautiful quotes and sayings about planting and gardening… “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” said Audrey Hepburn. “Blessed are you who sow. Every seed you so plant, will grow into bountiful crops for great harvest,” wrote Lailah Gifty Akita. And – perhaps the best – “If you plant junk, don’t expect to harvest jewels,” attributed to Luke Taylor. While many sowing and harvesting references were likely never meant as a direct analogy to the act of placing a tiny seed into the soil, they still spring to mind as I wander about my melodious garden this week. (Bad pun intended.)
Plant something and watch it grow, indeed is true.
My shift from mostly ornamental gardener to grower of nutrient dense fruits and vegetables wasn’t exactly seamless, for there is a learning curve to pulling tomatoes through 108 degree temperatures and protecting the garden against an Arctic cold front that saw us dipping down to nine degrees. But we survived, the garden and the gardener. Wiser now. And as energized as ever to plant something and watch it grow.
Last year was a time of reconstruction and renewal around my garden. I started in mid winter, one small area at a time. New garden beds were marked off, using the branches and trunks of shrubs and trees that were removed to make room for Garden 2.0.
(Little did I know how much enjoyment I would get at watching the various fungi move in to the garden, photograph below.)
A dump truck load of organic compost and cedar mulch was delivered this time last year, one last workout for my 27 year old wheelbarrow, now too rusted out to haul much of anything. Fruit trees galore were purchased and planted. Seeds were sown. By bits and pieces, a new garden emerged, my suburban food forest. A garden I can wander and harvest and consume healing foods straight off the plant. “Organized chaos” might be an apt name for my garden in 2022. “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Yes, there were plans. Penciled out in an old notebook, drug out to the garden daily, often times soaked in mud and sweat.
Some plans worked out, some didn’t. At a certain point, everything simply came down to just getting the ground covered, as nature – and this gardener – doesn’t like bare soil. Years of organic gardening and soil regeneration were in my favor when a heatwave and extended drought baked North Texas over the summer. When we first moved to this garden, we were cursed with heavy clay dirt, typical of this region. But slowly, over the years, the dirt gave way to a loamy soil that now teems with beneficial life. Last summer I learned to appreciate that okra loves 100+ degree days, as do the bees that visit its blooms. I also realized that I love raw okra, straight off the plant. As a bonus, okra leaves are edible and make a decent salad at a time when it is too hot to grow lettuce or kale. Summer – not soon enough – gave way to fall and winter greens were planted. But now. Now! “Hope springs eternal,” wrote Alexander Pope. And so it does. Entering year two, I am filled with hope. And dreams and plans and wishes. (Too bad my bank account is not filled with money!) Hopes and dreams, after all, are what keep us gardeners perusing seed catalogs.
“Anyone who thinks gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year; for gardening begins in January with a dream,” wrote Josephine Nuese. Seeds were started indoors shortly after the Christmas tree came down and those January dreams are now outside, getting acclimated to the elements, soon to be planted out in the garden.
Biquinho chile peppers, started from seeds from Botanical Interests. (Photograph above.)
Earlier this week, I walked through the garden, camera in one hand and a notebook and pencil in the other. What to plant where? Which trellises to move to make them more efficient? What to grow more of? (Dragon Tongue beans were a favorite last summer, so double the amount will be planted this year.) What to grow less of? (I’m looking at you, turnips!) More plans were penciled out and seeds were sorted by what would be planted where.
Today was unseasonably warm, 87 degrees in mid March, just shy of a record. The day was spent in the garden, putting some of those plans in place, moving tomato cages, expanding the size of the asparagus patch. Yes, this is a time to dream!
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Great tips and inspiration for starting a garden this year!