You’d think I was some sort of vegetarian. You’d think I only eat fresh organic produce and never get a coke and fries with my exploitation-burger. You’d think that to see the graph paper and diagrams and drawings of next year’s garden, and to witness the obsessive calculations employed by a self-confessed math-impaired non-engineer type going against the laws of nature to squeeze in one more row of carrots or mizuna; and beets, I’ve got to fit some beets in there; they don’t mind a little shade…maybe behind the tomatoes? Yes, yes! More…MORE!
I have so many seeds. I tried not to buy more this year, except the ones I need.
I have a small veggie garden. I have seeds leftover from last year. In truth, I could plant a whole garden with what I’ve got. But a garden full of what? Remains of the day? What about experiments and surprises? Gardening wouldn’t be worth it without problem solving and innovation. I’ll never learn anything planting the same old stuff year after year. And in my house we like some variety in our diet. Through my powers of rationalization, I am able to expand the definition of “need” to suit my greed for seed.
I bought about ten new packets of seeds. To a non-gardener, that probably doesn’t sound like much. The cost looks reasonable on the bill, and the packets all fit daintily in a small paper bag. But read the back of each little time-bomb of vegetation and you will begin to see the problem: “this packet plants four ten foot rows” and “plants eight mounds of six-foot long vines” and “requires a minimum of two feet per plant.” Holy crap, I don’t have that kind of space!
So here I sit surrounded by seed packets and drawings, trying to find spaces in the flower gardens to sneak a few veggies, and feeling completely overwhelmed. Every time I think I have a plan, I remember some essential vegetable I’d be distraught not to grow, like eggplant.
Can you believe I forgot the eggplant? We eat it like cake I tell you, all summer long. We love eggplant; okay, so let me move the chard, and remember the peas only last the first part of the season, and make sure to keep plants in the same family moving to different places every year to prevent disease.
Now, maybe I need to leave some room to walk around in the garden, so I can harvest all this food I’m going to grow. But not too much space-I can be surprisingly acrobatic when it comes to picking vegetables! It looks like I’ll be doing some very avant-garde harvest dances this season.
My planning would be quite simple if I gardened on a grid like a normal person. Maybe I should build a geometric series of rectangular raised beds like smart veggie gardeners do, making crop rotation a no-brainer and esthetics all but a non-issue. Oh please. Get real. Such a thing will not be happening in my yard.
My veggie garden will continue to be mad and passionate. If the cucumber tumbles into an unholy embrace with the lettuces, then so be it. I’m going to cram some Delicata squash vines behind the roses in the Pink garden and under the aronia in the Butterfly garden because last year the compost sprouted squash that flourished there naturally. The large rough leaves contrasted well with the more delicate leaves of the flowers. I’ll be growing more herbs in the little nook of the Pink garden abutting the veggies, a space with the microclimate of a desert and therefore a great home for cumin and savory. My garden may look like a madhouse, but there is logic behind the placement of (almost) every plant.
I do enjoy a little chaos in the garden. The excitement of too many seeds is problem I’m gleeful to have. Too many seeds means I have extra to give to a friend who’s starting a garden this year. Too may seeds means I’ll have too much food and plenty to share when it ripens all at once. Too many seeds means when one crop bolts, new crops are waiting in the wings and the ground will not be fallow. Too many seeds means being more creative, more disciplined.
If you really think about it, isn’t the idea of “too many seeds” a fallacy? Some of those early crops will be gone in the blink of an eye. Rapini, mizuna, spinach and radishes ripen in about one month and leave empty space for more crops. That’s four packets of seeds used up by April right there. Lettuces come and go, and you’d never want to be caught without a handful of Mesclun to scatter in a bare spot. When the cucumbers and peas have given their all, you need to have some cool or hot season crop to go in their place and make use of the soil you’ve nurtured and finessed instead of letting it sprout weeds-and it will sprout weeds, you can bet money on it.
Too many seeds? No, there is no such thing. If only I could get outside and start planting them. Oh, the harsh reality of February. Oh, the promises of spring.