Garden dreaming…

Late last spring we wrote a post about our grand plans to grow some vegetables. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we decided to forge ahead anyway. (Kinda like we do almost everything around here.)

With the encouragement of Mama Holt (whose blog I miss all the time, even all these months after its demise–sniff!)–a fabulous gardner–I decided to go forth fearlessly, even though I was a little intimidated by all we don’t know and all it seemed we should know.

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Our goal was to plant the things we’d need to make our own tomato sauce, so we planted tomatoes, onions, carrots, basil, parsely, and oregano.

At first, it was rather lovely:

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By the end of summer, though, it was a bit of a jungle:

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In terms of our tomato sauce goal, it was a total fail. Most of the tomatoes never became fully ripe (not enough sun), and when a few did, the onions were still really small. The carrots were, too. I got discouraged when I realized my tomato sauce dream wasn’t going to become reality.

And then it was the end of summer and we went back to school and then the weather turned cold and…

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…we did things indoors, like painting our kitchen.

But then, just this week, I was wandering around in the library, and I found these:

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Suddenly, I was itching to take another run at this gardening business. I mean, did you notice the title of this one?

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Large font, small pages, simple directions, all they need to say about one vegetable on only one page:

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This is not an intimidating book. It is not overwhelming me with information. I realized within minutes one of the big mistakes we made last year:  We didn’t thin our carrots and onions. And, I didn’t know that we should plan to plant more than once. Two things right there we can do differently that would probably make a big difference.

I also brought home this:

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I liked the simplicity of this one, too. Tomatoes, garlic, and basil are the three main things we wanted to grow last year. I still have visions of making our own tomato sauce. I liked this book because it really is just about those three things:

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What’s not to like about a book that contains beautiful photos of good food, literary quotations, and generous white space?

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I also got a third one that I’m not as excited about. It has too much information, and charts like this:

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I am not a fan of charts like that. Not yet, anyway. I’m a baby gardener, and when I start to read too much technical information I feel like Peppermint Patty.

However, I got this book because it is about how to grow vegetables in our part of the world (west of the Cascades). I will see what I can get from it. Maybe. (Just being honest. I bring home all kinds of library books I never open and end up paying fines for. I consider it my own warped way to make charitable contributions.)

Regardless of what we do or don’t read, however, we have some work cut out for  us. This is what our garden looks like now:

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Remember how I said school started and we mostly just forgot about the garden? Yeah.

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Carrots and onions that definitely needed thinning, and a lonely bunch of parsley, the only remaining herb.

But spring is here, and I write these words sitting in our kitchen with sun streaming through the window. I got my hands just a little dirty last week finally planting the cacti I bought in January to replace the plants I killed that died sometime in December.

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I’m ready to get back in the gardening saddle again. Not just because there’s something so satisfying about eating food we’ve had some part in making–although there is. (We did enjoy a few tomatoes and some basil.) And not because I’m chasing some fantasy about simple living. I know that, for me, it would be far more simple to go to a farmer’s market and buy all the ingredients for home-made tomato sauce.

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Aren’t these gorgeous? I had to take their photo last summer at our local farmers’ market.

It would be simpler still to go to the grocery store 5 minutes away and pick up some spaghetti sauce in a jar.

But this week’s news about climate change and its impact on food supply is deeply concerning to me. I know my little garden isn’t going to do anything about any of that, and it’s not my aim to someday provide all of my family’s food. Even if I could acquire all the knowledge and skill necessary to do that, I doubt such measures will be necessary in my lifetime.

Somehow, though, the idea of learning more about what it takes to grow food and developing my ability to do so is comforting in the face of changes I feel powerless to affect. As a kid, I used to love visiting my great-grandma on her farm and pulling carrots from her vegetable garden. The older I get and the more the world changes, the more fondly I view my childhood and the more I treasure things from it that I can hold onto today. Maybe growing vegetables is a talisman from the past to grasp as we’re carried into an uncertain future. Even if that’s all it is, that’s reason enough for me for venture back to the nursery  in the coming days for some seedlings. I’m ready to get my hands dirty again.

How about you? Got any advice, deep thoughts, or experience to share? You know I really only do this to talk with all of you, right? icon smile Garden dreaming...

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