I’ll bet that title got several folks’ attention . . .
However, it is that time of year when many of us look forward to the cornucopia of color and content that begin to arrive in our mailboxes. Enthusiasm, excitement, and enticement build with each delivery by the good ‘ol reliable USPS. Forgotten are the dog days of August when heat and humidity steamrolled any further interest in just about anything to do with the out-of-doors. Overlooked are the remaining chores yet to be accomplished to clean up the landscape, re-mulch, and get rid of withered plants from last season.
What am I talking about? Gardeners among us know precisely. It is the highly anticipated arrival of seed and nursery catalogs with their lovely, alluring, specimen-perfect photos and descriptions of seeds and plants. Some companies accentuate the appeal by having attractive young people smiling into the camera while holding gorgeous fruits or veggies in collecting baskets. Although casually dressed, these gardeners have no soil stains on their clothing, their brows are void of perspiration, and they smile as though the produce was collected on perfect days sans much effort. As readers, we blithely succumb to the possibilities suggested in those pictures, happily giving in to the hopes and promises of a new season. Those images connect our gardening minds with fondness into the soon-to-be future of soil under our fingernails. Our minds contentedly imagine visions of 100% germination, envious people admiring our luscious gardens, family and friends gathered around the table drooling over fresh vegetables . . . and, thusly, our drab winter days are brightened with hope.
And, why is it that we drift into the horticultural equivalent of denial, pushing into the recesses of memory past droughts, the worry over pests and diseases, the sweat and toil associated with gardening? Partly it is due to the fact that many of us are weary of the cold, short days of winter and partly it is because we can’t wait for the sunny promise of those warm, soft feelings that April brings like a beautiful bride. Additionally, human nature is such that we can’t resist the competitive urge to do it better than last season. For some, that includes having the first edible tomato in the neighborhood. (Hint: 1) start seeds indoors in mid-February or, 2) purchase in May those ridiculously huge three-gallon plants that already have several green, well-formed fruits on them. Be sure to throw away the $15 receipt before claiming sole effort.)
Gardening and farming have to be among the most positive and hopeful of human endeavors. Those activities resonate with our roots on this earth just like the memories of our respective mothers however they manifested themselves into our lives. I won’t enter into the debates of GMO’s, organic versus non-organic practices, hybrids versus heirlooms, seed-saving versus purchases. However, I can guarantee you that $100 invested in seeds and plants will yield better results than gambling with the same amount of money, more highs than an equivalent amount of booze, and greater satisfaction than the mixed emotions of watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your brand-new BMW.