I used to live in Texas. Well, Austin. We didn’t have quite as many seasons as we do in the north. Up here, you’ve got spring, summer, fall and winter — generally in that order. In Austin there were essentially two seasons hell and bliss. Hell was punctuated by ferocious thunderstorms that would cool the air to a frigid 85 degrees after the sun went down.
During the bliss season there were occasional ice storms to keep bike riding interesting.
These two season paradigms make for different gardening. You can pretty much always
garden in Texas, but in August it wasn’t too pleasant, and a lot of the plants I wanted to grow
weren’t so interested in growing (lettuce, tomatoes — food). Up here in New England we have
to contend with winter. I love winter because I get to cross country ski and I get a good
workout shovelling the driveway. There isn’t really a lot of gardening going on.
What I do these days, in addition to staring at the garden and pining, is garden aspirationally.
There are two parts of this. Plant porn and eating.
Sometimes I can do both at once.
First, plant porn. I know I’m not alone, many of you are sinners too. I get a lot of seed catalogs. Most of them are pretty much the same, but I look through them all. I’m not fooled by the fact that burpee puts the new carrot in the hands of a diminutive three-year old to pretend that it’s gigantic, at least not intellectually. I still think: “Jeez, that’s one big freakin’ carrot.” Sometimes I’m even prompted to show the boss. She’s never very impressed. She’s jaded by years of vegetable finery.
I keep a dated version of Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening by the bed. Just in case I’m moved to look up say terrace gardening right before bed.
I look up how to grow every plant I hear mentioned on the radio. I spent an unreasonable amount of time last week decided whehter I could and should grow quinoa last week.
The aspriational gardening I do by eating is consuming last year’s harvest. I’ve still got stuff in the freezer and cellar from last season: onions, potatoes, garlic, squash, basil, sweet potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, one last mason jar of tomatoes, and a couple of other odds and ends. I try to keep eating something from the garden each day — it’s kind of like the joy I get in August when everything for dinner came out of the yard.
But it’s coming to an end. The onion bin is nearly empty, there are only a few potatoes left. Sad. Next year I’m going to grow twice as many potatoes and three times as many onions and….where’d I put that catalog. Excuse me.