Thursday, February 4, 2010

An Early Start

Every winter, I watch the snow falling outside my window, anticipating the coming spring. I dream of the sun warming my back as I knead the earth with my bare hands and lovingly prepare my yard for the season of growth and harvest. I crave the smell of rich soil and the herbs that I adore....lavender, catmint, rosemary, cinnamon basil, pineapple sage, and Corsican mint (just to name a few), all within my reach. I yearn for evening strolls through my vegetable garden, where I snack on warm cherry tomatoes, while watering my homegrown produce. I miss the smell of fennel and chives (okay, not so much the chives) on the breath of my young ones when they come in from playing out of doors. I eagerly await the opportunities of watching the simple and complex lives of completely oblivious insects, that I am blessed (and not so blessed), to encounter through my gardening experiences...

And yet, despite all of the desire I have to get started, despite the several months that I could use to get an early start during the winter, I never actually get going until well into spring. In fact, for the past 8 years, I haven't started my seeds before May. And by May, it is kind of late for tomatoes and peppers where I live, so I always end up buying them as plants instead. I have many valid excuses for why I haven't started seeds early; sickness, pregnancy, a new baby, too many other commitments, yada, yada, yada. Because of this, I easily spend at least a few hundred dollars on plants every spring. And because of my lack of skills in harvesting, preserving, extending the growing season, etc., the amount of money we spend never feels justified by the meager amount of produce we actually gain by the end of summer.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with buying mature plants from your local nursery (obviously I have been doing it, and will continue to, for the rest of my life). Yes, the cost is a little bit more to buy them this way, but for obvious reasons (duh, a lot less work). I am all for supporting local farmers (in fact, part of my plan for this year is to buy locally and to support grocery stores in doing the same). I have certainly not been able to single-handedly cover our family's nourishment needs with our little suburban yard, thus far, but I am willing to give it a try and learn in the process. There is this beautiful sense of accomplishment that comes from having grown your own juicy tomatoes from a single seed the size of a pin head. Whether you choose to grow the rare fruit or vegetable that you are unable to find at the grocery store or nursery. Whether you just want to be completely certain that you are eating organically. Whether you are trying to save money, help your kids to develop some good work ethic, or just need a great hobby to keep you outside breathing in some fresh air, having a garden is such a noble and worthy cause. Whatever your reasons for gardening may be, I believe it is completely worth all of the hard work and effort. Hey, it may even be therapeutic for definitely is for me!

And that, my friends, is why I have challenged myself this year. I am finally following through with my well intended my garden, in my kitchen, in my yard. And you are welcome to join me, through it all....the triumphs, the failures, the hard work, the disappointments, the rewards, the entire adventure. To all of you who wish to become avid gardeners and healthy eaters, myself included, here's to an early start....the very best way to begin.

Strider is my wolf (cub scout), so it's his job to help me plan out our vegetable garden this year. He started by using a little math while he laid out all of the recycled pots and got them ready for soil. Sweety is just there to smile...and the blanket of snow in the background is there to remind me that it was winter when I began this year...

Strider even rolled up his sleeves and really dug in....

Look, he has finished 136! Only around 152 more to go....and this is just the tomatoes and peppers. Once he filled up the pots with the soil, I got to wet the soil down, my all time LEAST favorite job related to gardening (other than axing out the ancient rose bushes that seem to resurrect themselves every year, despite all of my efforts and sore muscles). Wetting down bone dry seedling soil is very B-O-R-I-N-G. Once the soil was thoroughly wet down, each of the boys got to plant their flats up, which took all of 5 minutes time. Then we put the flats under the growing shelves in my room....

We put them in our bedroom, so they would be out of the little crawling SiGuy's reach....

But nothing can stop the SiGuy from getting his sample of dirt....nothing. Wow! A tie dyed baby playing in the dirt and growing plants under fluorescent lights in the backroom....yeah, we're obviously hip.

(Several Random) Disclaimers: No children were used for slave labor during the process of this experience, or for any other experiences that we are aware of. All individuals who were involved were compensated with lots of love, lots of food, and lots of good work ethic. No children were harmed during the process of this experience, due to the ingestion of harmful substances, such as dirt (or, as we refer to it in the gardening circle, soil). Nobody was actually allowed to consume the soil...only allowed to pose for the camera...after innocently exploring...through nearly all of their senses...a little bit of good old mother nature. Also, there will be more pictures to follow, just in case some of you actually got the plant reference and are concerned for our hippie-loving family's well being. While tomatoes do have a similarity to other known plants, they are indeed...only...tomatoes.

~.~ the purple sprout


  1. This is an awesome blog! Subscribing...

  2. Awesome blog!! I've got you bookmarked & will check in often... I will do my garden vicariously thru you this year... Love to you all!! =o]

  3. Nancy, thanks. I am so glad you like it! Let me know if ever you have any suggestions on what I can experiment with. ;)

    Sally, my soul sista, I am honored to have you gardening through me this year...right backatcha!

  4. Nice job on the blog, I think we will enjoy our relationship.

  5. Thanks, Dave. The blog is still in its infancy, but growing every day. I agree. :)