Gardening when the stakes feel high

| 07 Mar 2022 | 12:16

The gardening season is upon us again. And here I stand trying to read the wind and decide if we are growing for a time of scarcity or a time of abundance. It’s fascinating how much the last two years have changed the discussion about the garden. It used to be one more task amidst many. Then in March 2020 as the world around us shut down, I planted radishes and greens under row covers and hoped they would come up quickly so they could fill out the pantry meals.

This year the four of us discussed our favorite crops and we made a plan based on what we want to eat. Jim wants sweet corn, Bibb lettuce and peppers. The kids vote for carrots, sugar snap peas and radishes (along with the strawberries and blueberries that are already in the garden). I want arugula, ground cherries and yellow beets. We will also grow some garden staples for summer cooking – or not-cooking as the case may be.

When the kids were smaller, I grew smaller vegetables, aiming for a “snacking garden”: tiny cucumbers, tomatoes and snow peas. Nibbling in the garden is always my favorite part of gardening and the surest way to keep the kids interested. But the kids are no longer those toddlers playing in the dirt, pulling up my seedlings when they were “helping with weeding.”

As the kids get bigger, I think we shall call it a “grazing garden.” They know how to harvest their own cucumbers and carrots. Packing lunch for summer camp might get more enthusiasm if I can send them out to the garden to harvest their snack. Or maybe I will take my coffee outside in the morning, and shout over my shoulder, “I’m packing your lunch. Be back in 20.” It only takes a moment to pick a sweet pepper or grab a handful of blueberries... the rest of the time is for nibbling my breakfast while wandering amidst the plants that don’t need help finding socks.