Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winter Garden

And we are, all of us, waiting…for next year's garden.
From This Year's Garden by Cynthia Rylant

This Year's Garden was an often read book when my boys were little. Written by Cynthia Rylant, it takes the reader through a family garden from seeds to harvest, beginning and ending with the bare garden waiting to be worked again.

I know just how the narrator feels.

It is January and right now my gardens are empty, emerging from under the tattered remnants of the last snow. The only gardening being done in this house is being done in my mind. I have studied the Seed Savers Exchange catalog (the house favorite) from front to back. Although I still have a lot of seeds from last spring that I saved for this year, I am tempted all the same by the luxurious colors and descriptions.

Not surprisingly, tomatoes top my list.

We are eating the frozen and canned vegetables from last year's garden. For those of you who were marveling about my recent revelations about our food budget, last year's harvest is a huge part of those numbers. In August, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini filled our kitchen. These days, they fill our freezer. I look at what we put up and think "we'll never eat all that," then look at the calendar and realize we are probably still six months from the first tomato.

Right now the garden is quiet. The herbs that didn't get cut are bowed down.

This is a dangerous time of year to look at seed catalogs and dream of this year's garden. I am sorely tempted by the potatoes Seed Savers Exchange offers, even though I am not much of a potato grower (judging by last year's experiment). I know I am better off watching our farmers market and hoping someone grows some of the more unusual varieties, but I still look at the potato pages and sigh.

My garden grows larger and more lush with every page I turn.

Then I reel myself back in. I still have a sod garden that will be in only its second year of production. It will need tilled again to start the spring; tilling was a bear last year. The smaller garden is in better shape, but I learned its limitations last summer, along with my own.

And where are the broccoli going?

In today's New York Times, there was an article about the increasing awareness of urban areas without access to affordable and nutritious foods, including fresh produce. To change these "food deserts," as they are known, into healthier, sounder neighborhoods, many grass root organizations have sprung up to help urban residents build and plant gardens. The Times article focuses on one program, La Mesa Verde (The Green Table) in a Latino neighborhood of San Jose, and the changes even a small program can bring to a family and a block. It is a moving piece at many levels, including the personal. One newly initiated gardener speaks for me as I wait for this year's garden.

"If you have vegetables, then you can come get them. To see them growing is a blessing."

May all of our tables be so blessed this year.


Sharon said...

I am going to pay close attention to you when it is time for you to garden. Last year I tried to grow zucchinis with absolutely no success. They only flowered...there was no fruit!

I do mostly a container garden on our back deck, I may have to spread out a bit.

Money Funk said...

LOL. My husband got the seed catalog in the mail and he thoroughly planned our next year's flower beds. And the more he looked the more flowers and grasses he 'added'. Too funny.

You do amazing on your food budget. That is great. And that was a great inspirational comment(s) left on Sharon's blog.

And Sharon, I am surprised no zucchini grew under the flower(s). Tip: only plant one or two plants max. When you get it going... you'll have zucchini growing out of y'ur ears! LOL.