Crossing the Gardening Rubicon


| 3/15/2012 9:38:49 AM


Tags: gardening, climate, ebooks, Cam Mather,

This hasn’t been much of a winter here at Sunflower Farm, just like many places in North America. The area south of us along Lake Ontario had virtually no snow. By the end of the winter in 2008 and 2009 after numerous dumpings of snow we had enormous piles and snow banks that took forever to melt. Not this year.  I’ve heard a lot of people comment about what a great winter it was. They didn’t need boots. Their cars stayed clean. They were able to park all 4 of their family vehicles comfortably since there were no snow banks clogging up the streets. Farmers, on the other hand, looked out at barren fields and knew that this was not a good thing. Fields should be comfortably covered in a layer of snow during the winter. It serves numerous purposes, but mostly it keeps the soil from blowing away in the high winter winds.

We had some snow although less than most years, and yet we didn’t have to drive very far south before we noticed that there was no snow on the ground. The winter was also milder and so we had a lot of rain. So basically anywhere we had snow that was packed down, like the driveway, it became a skating rink. It was quite brutal. I finally bought “Icers” to strap on to my boots to try and avoid breaking a bone in a fall.

Now the weather has turned spring like and I still have a pile of unfinished winter jobs left to do. I feel kind of ripped off. I have a lot of firewood still to get in and a whole bunch of inside projects. And the books. My book pile is still large and once I can get into the garden, books are on hold, or at least the speed at which I get through them slows dramatically.

I had really looked forward to winter this year. Most years during the fall my garden time tapers off drastically but this year it really ramped up. Since it was finally cool I was able to work on a bunch of the larger more physically demanding jobs I had been putting off. This included making gardens bigger, transplanting a bunch of raspberries, getting all of my rhubarb into one area … those sorts of things. We did all of this with the intention of starting a CSA and growing vegetables for 10 or 12 member families this summer.

I’ve been having some reservations about running the CSA. Even after growing vegetables for 35 years, giving away boxes of produce for the last decade, and running a vegetable stand in town that went really well last summer, I’m still a little reticent about the CSA. Am I up for it? Can I really do it? Don’t get me wrong, I have a huge ego and have spent my life doing things that I really doubted I was capable of doing like moving off the grid and putting up a wind turbine, but I still have doubts. And I think this is a good thing. It keeps you from getting cocky. Keeps you grounded and humble. And inspires you to prepare as much as you can and have as many “Plan Bs” as you can.

In The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook I wrote that every fall I leave the garden burnt out on gardening. My passion is gone. Michelle will verify this. Every fall she hears, “That’s it, the gardens are going to be way smaller next year. They’re too much work.” And every year the gardens get bigger.




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