Garden fever has been bad this year. It started in January when the Gurney Seed catalog arrived in the mail the same day as the Stark Bros catalog. The next day Burpee and American Meadow catalogs …
Garden fever has been bad this year. It started in January when the Gurney Seed catalog arrived in the mail the same day as the Stark Bros catalog.
The next day Burpee and American Meadow catalogs came. Pouring a cup of coffee, I sipped and flipped. I may have licked some of the pages. These catalogs are like a Sears and Roebuck Christmas Wish Book for grownups.
I lit up my American Express card on tomato, carrot, kale, and cabbage seeds, along with some fruit trees for good luck. There’s a good chance I threw those companies into shifts of overtime fulfilling my orders.
The love of gardening is woven into my DNA. I remember my great-grandmother Liddy Watson thumbing through “seed books.” That was before I started to school. She lived next door, and I was at her house every day. She had jars of peach, apple, blackberry and tomatoes on a shelf next to her kitchen window. Morning light coming through that window played with those jars and painted a kaleidoscope of color on her refrigerator.
She planted seeds in a garden next to her house, but she also planted flowers, herbs, and peppers in every container that would hold dirt. They didn’t call them raised beds then, but that’s what they were.
Last year we tinkered with raised beds by using plastic rain barrels that I had cut into sections. We had mixed results. We planted heirloom tomatoes in the beds and by midsummer, we had wrinkled purple tomatoes as big as my fist. The tommy toe tomatoes bloomed until the first frost nipped the blossoms.
This past winter, I’ve spent time studying how to do a better job growing crops in raised beds.
Earlier this week I bought 1 x 10 boards and built my first raised bed. Placement is key. I found a place in our yard where I thought it would get eight hours of sun. This morning, the sun fell on my raised bed at 7:49 a.m. When I looked just at 4 p.m. sunlight was still shining on the box. Bingo.
By the time it gets warm enough to plant the seedlings outside, I hope to have 10 sections built which should help us grow enough food to ease the hunger crisis in Angola.
Jilda loves winter. It has its good points. I’ve taken pictures of bare trees against the winter skies have been incredible this year. I love some things, but when I go for what seems like weeks without seeing the sun, my mood leans toward the melancholy end of the spectrum.
The seed catalogs are like life vests. They keep me afloat until the light begins to change in late winter and early spring.
Flipping through those pages, I can almost feel my hands sifting through the soil, and smell the earth. And if I close my eyes, I can taste a warm tomato plucked fresh from the plant that I raised from seed.
I would never be careless and wish away a moment of the life I have left. I can say without hesitation that I will welcome the first warm days of spring.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, "Life Goes On," is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.