Growing up, we always had a giant garden. It was never anything with specialty items in it, but wow, rows of tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans, and many of the traditional veggies would be seen out there. My dad was a teacher for many years, and loved to be out in the garden when he could. My mom stayed home with us while we grew up, so she was always weeding, picking, canning, or freezing something. We never lacked for winter vegetables as there was always something in the freezer.
We moved out to our acreage about 8 years ago now, and I promptly began the process of developing my garden. Over that time, I’ve got six plots, about 20 x 20, with one of those plots having 8 raised beds on it. We have tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, beans (green and black), cucumbers, cabbages, zucchini, pumpkins, onions (sometimes, have never figured out how to grow good ones), strawberries, lettuce, basil, oregano, dill, kale, fennel, mint, and other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting.
Yes, I drive my wife crazy with this because she’s the one with canning/perserving experience. Me, I’m the grunt labor. Weeding, mulching, composting, moving load after load of poo from the barn to the compost pile. Yup, I’m your guy. She’s the maestro in the kitchen, having years of experience, and able to create these incredible things based simply on her knowledge and sense of taste. We’ll have homemade salsa, egg rolls, marinara sauce. We’ll freeze applesauce, strawberries, blueberries, peaches (from Missouri), strawberry rhubarb jam, shredded cabbage and zucchini. I know we’ll have things falling of the vine and rotting in the garden, but the amount of food we are able to have during the year is quite amazing.
My first seed catalogs showed up in January, and I’ve gotten my orders in and back all ready. I use only heirloom or open pollinated seeds. I’ve gotten into the idea of saving seeds and these will reproduce the same plant year after year. While I don’t mind hybrids, I can’t grow that plant again next year. The plant that comes up doesn’t produce as well, and the seeds, while useful, just aren’t quality. I know the basil seeds I saved last year, will grow me the same plant again, and I’m quite ok with that. This year, Johnny’s Seed, Bountiful Gardens, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed are where my seeds came from. I’ll also shop Seed Savers, just north of Decorah, a bit more expensive, but well worth the drive.
Usually, I’ve got seeds started in the basement, but for some reason, I’ve just not had the same passion to get out and get started. It’s been a long school year, and I’m feeling a bit wore down by that. I’ve been easily distracted by many things and feel behind in a lot of stuff, both school and personal. However, I’ve got seeds calling me at home. “Plant me”, they say. Eventually, the grow lights will be set, the seeds will be planted and we’ll see little sprouts coming up in 10 days. I’m not sure if the size will stay the same or I’ll cut back a little bit, we’ll see about that. I know I want tomatoes for salsa, cabbage for egg rolls, and cucumbers for salads. I want peppers for winter pizza and green beans for meals where I want to feel summery. The garden will get put in, no doubt about that.
Because who am I to not listen to that call of seeds, wanting to be planted?? 🙂