Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.
I often think about and comment on the ease of rural living today. Compared to years past, our world is really only limited by imagination and personal resources, not geographic realities. Not to say watching live webcasts from Tuscany while eating olive oil purchased on Amazon Prime is the same as waking with the Italian sunshine glowing through your eyelids. However, ruralites and novice homesteaders such as my family can Google a solution to most any vexing country problem. I obsessively pin recipes to can and tidbits gleaned from gardening masters to my Pinterest boards. It was truly a red letter day that MOTHER EARTH NEWS starting publishing pins on Pinterest, so exciting in fact I texted all my homesteader pals.
While our reality is needing a tractor to clear our driveway of snow and marauding deer at every plant, we just downloaded the Mother Earth News garden planner app to my iPad. I simultaneously try to evaluate the pile of old power poles by the shop for garden bed edgers and browse High Mowing Seeds online catalog thanks to my 0200 insomnia.
The reality is we have chosen to live rurally, existing happily without bookstores, the arts and culinary variety. The reality is also that we can tap into information and entertainment from almost anywhere on the planet. These factors directly contribute to my grandiose plans for the garden this year. With newly expanded broadband in our neck of the woods, ideas from around the world, and the security of a worldwide support system and information available; the idea of failing seems far off. Worst case, my garden fails and we eat on the cheap from other local sources, learning from and sharing our mistakes.
Without fear of starvation and the global co-op of information literally at my fingertips I feel bold, brave and optimistic. So my insomnia has led to feverish bouts of seed ordering and subsequent dreams of pea vines encircling me as I dig and dig and dig potatoes in a never ending ditch, potatoes stretching to the horizon. In all seriousness, I read and scrutinize each flowery description. Getting past the initial overwhelming desire to plant and hold and taste each gorgeous specimen in the catalogs; I think about our eating habits, storage options and environment. Like many farm projects, our initial investment should be the biggest, financially speaking. I will save seed at the end of season.
Though the learning curve be steep, five years of hungrily reading the words of farmers, homesteaders, gardeners and other authenticity pioneers makes the language knowable and the landscape less foreign. As our temperature spikes from single digits to mid fifties, so does my excitement and momentary panics at how much is to be done. Our list of projects and hopes sort themselves into a calendar of need and resources. We could certainly just live at our place, plant a few annual flowers and mow a lawn never to worry about frost dates and number of seedlings, finances allowing that rain water irrigation system and the September madness of canning. Neither Dom or I are static beings. The midnight seed catalog page flagging and tractor supply catalogs in the loo are merely symptoms of our disease.
This aching, fluttery, excitable disorder I can only describe as glorious homestead mania. The symptoms become the norm as you live with them. Your delusions projected by your gaze out the window like a slide projector on that mown down meadow. Each bucket to the compost pile carried like offerings to the Maggi. Like any illness your sorrow at giving it to a loved one quickly gives way to relief at your luck in having a boat mate. At least we are crazy together, fantasizing about lush French cantaloupes and the riches of our near future root cellar. Happy seed fantasies friends!