The blue moon shines bright and clear tonight, surrounded by a brilliant ring. A few clouds pass by, casting spooky shadows. The ground is cold and hard, and I sit inside, snug by a fire, and am experiencing waves of nostalgia.
Not that I miss my garden exactly. I mean, all that backbreaking work day after day, the guilt I felt in seeing plants struggling beneath a stranglehold of morning glory while I heartlessly walked right past them, the heebie-jeebies I got when I picked up my jacket I foolishly left on the ground and saw a zillion earwigs run every which way out of it, the shiny trails of slugs and holes left behind on my plants and berries and my subsequent sick fantasies on the best way to murder – or better yet – torture them…. I mean, who needs it?
The purple cabbages in the concrete planter are looking fine. Collards have amazingly sprung back to life after our pre-Christmas deep freeze. The grass has turned from brown to green. That’s good enough, right?
It’s just that it’s December 31 and so we feel compelled to go over what worked and what didn’t over the year. It’s part of the learning process. We aren’t allowed to drool over seed catalogs until we have completed this ritual. Plus, by completing this little exercise, we (supposedly) will show a little more restraint – or at least conduct a reasonable feasibility analysis that we might take into consideration – before we order every glorious heirloom tomato seed pictured on those glossy pages.
And so – because I must – here are some highlights from the 2009 garden:
Pre-Spring: The economy was plunging fast, and I determined this was the year to grow a garden to feed the whole family, including all 5 children and their respective families.
Good: I planted a lot of seeds in the greenhouse to get a head start on things. The greenhouse was bolted to the fence; it wasn’t going to roll across the field like it did in 2008. Lesson learned!
Bad: if you plant lots of seedlings, you have to TRANSPLANT lots of seedlings! You have to have ROOM for all those seedlings … and then, after you work so hard to grow everything, people better dang well eat their vegetables! As in – how many heads of lettuce can one family possibly consume in a week? Broccoli is GOOD for you. And, what do you mean, you don’t really care for kale “all that much”?
Spring-Summer: Aaaaghh! In the middle of May – right at spring planting & weeding season – I fell and broke my foot!
Good: I managed to plant corn scooting along on my butt. I learned to carry things in a backpack, leaving my hands free to grip those crutches. I still managed to plant beans, pumpkins, zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots. I weeded and picked strawberries. I hilled potatoes.
Bad: Let me count the ways…. Going through the hottest summer on record with a cast on my foot was more than miserable, and worse was watching the weeds take over everything and feeling helpless to tackle them! Conclusions: You can’t stomp on a shovel with a cast on your foot. It is difficult to hoe with crutches. And if you sit on the ground to weed, you need to make sure your cast is NOT resting on an ant hill!
Good Revisited: It’s a zen thing. I was forced to slow down and reevaluate what was really important (namely, save the garlic! The family can fend for themselves!) I realized that neat gardens are for control freaks. I was forced to acknowledge that few things are really under my control. I got to remember how fun it is to lie down in a field of grass and clover and stare up at the clouds. I gained a certain empathy for people with physical challenges. I gained a certain sense of accomplishment when we were eating fresh corn and tomatoes in September. I am grasshopper. Hear me roar!
Summer-Fall: We had wonderful weather most of the season – sporadic strong winds and rains, sure, but lots of summer sunshine.
Good: Tomatoes and corn! Wow! What treats! Beans were prolific! Everything grew like crazy! There was plenty for everyone in the family, enough to make several trips to the Food Bank, and plenty for canning as well. Garlic harvest was outstanding.
Bad: Weeds grew faster than ever! Insects threatened world domination. Can you spell z u c c h i n i i i i i ?
Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I guess I DO kind of miss my garden. The first daffodils and tulips exhibit a perfection we can never hope to achieve. I miss those first sweet edible pod peas mixed with a dozen different greens and topped with bright nasturtium flowers. I miss those amazing scarlet runner beans, with their flowers that called like Sirens across the sea to the hummingbirds, and their huge pods that drooped from vines, hiding ruby gems inside! I miss the sweet scent of a bowlful of fresh strawberries! I miss pushing aside tomato leaves, seeing clusters of dazzling red bulblets, and popping them in my mouth, one after another after another! I miss those gargantuan sunflowers that popped up volunteer here, there, and everywhere and now are feeding the birds in the cold of winter.
I suppose I have enough seeds for next year’s garden, but certainly it wouldn’t hurt just to glance at a catalog or two….