They came just after Christmas, but I put them aside. Mid-January is the time for lingering over Burpee’s new offerings and deciding which kind of heirloom gourd to order from John Scheeper’s. Johnny’s Selected Seeds came along with the other two, sporting a beautiful display of vegetables on its cover and seeds sold by the pound as well as by the packet. I don’t have nearly enough space to buy seeds by the pound, but it’s good to know that local farmers have the option to get their seeds from local nurseries (Jack Scheeper’s and Johnny’s are in New England, Burpee in Pennsylvania). Saturday night, I put my Burpee’s order in; My John Scheeper’s order will go in next week. A few days beyond that, the seeds will arrive on my doorstep; the plants will come just in time for putting them in the ground. With a wind chill in the air and ice on the driveway, it’s a blessing to remember that the green and growing season will arrive soon enough.
Preparing for this year’s gardens, the one in my yard and the children’s learning garden at my local library, is an exercise in memory, imagination, and planning. I review last year’s garden beds, remembering what grew well and what got eaten by local critters. I choose a theme for the largest garden bed: a Three Sister’s Garden adapted from Sharon Lovejoy’s Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots. I picture in my mind the colors and shapes that will emerge from the ground of this year’s gardens, and what simple snacks and salads will be savored every week. Work projects and shopping lists appear on scrap paper, meetings with learning garden leaders crop up on my calendar, and this year’s garden begins to take shape. Soon these garden plans will create a green and growing part of the library’s summer reading program – dovetailing garden activities to the state-wide summer literacy theme. From ordering seeds in January to putting it all to bed in October, this year’s garden moves from possibility and dreams to a blessed reality. It has begun on a January day of ice and wind, with the ground frozen and the earth asleep: nursery to beds to harvest.
But these plans don’t happen in isolation. A baby is due any day now, and library garden work is on hold: it’s more important for a grandmother to greet her new grandchild than to make summer program plans. Calendars and activities will be revised, timetables adjusted. That’s as it should be – a gentle, tangible reminder that life comes in its own blessed time. Life first, plans for life second.
Book Details: Lovejoy, Sharon; Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Activities to to do in the garden (New York: Workman Publishing, 1999)