Since the fresh new season is in full swing, we are spending more and more time outdoors. From sun to sun, the farm offers more work and more fun than ever. Actually my work is more fun this time of year! I love it. Cleaning animal habitats, collecting dried manure, filling troughs, watering and doting on plants, just (as my Grandpa Rex would say) puttering around… None of it is difficult in this season. Physical and spiritual pleasures abound.
Right now, upstairs in a sunny window seat in our bedroom hallway, dozens of seedling containers are growing all kinds of tiny crops, not the least of which is basil. You heard me right, friends, basil. The king of herbs. Now sprouted into fluffy little leaf-topped groves, less than a week after touching that sexy black soil you see there, baby basil is a soul-deep pleasure. It awakens everything culinary and horticultural in me. Several times per day I walk slowly past this nursery of miniatures and gently scan the pads of my fingers across those verdant ruffles. I dare to lean down, pinch a leaf bud or two, and inhale the nearly imperceptible perfume. And the fragrance of all that moist peat is intoxicating, too. I just adore it. This productive collection of seedling trays promises me food and flowers all season long.
Fortunately, while we wait for the new herbs, a few stalwart specimens overwintered very well outdoors and are now fresh and green again, offering me perfect little bundles of bright flavor for all kinds of recipes. It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of walking barefoot out to the herb garden to clip just the right amount of herbs for dinner. And what a true pleasure it is! Soon the sage, rosemary, and oregano already producing will be joined by so much more. Gardening for the sake of cooking more than doubles the pleasure. These endeavors are far more than the sum of their parts.
The vegetable garden is renewing herself slowly but surely, too, and just watching the gentle evolution is a total pleasure. Spinach, mesclun, kale, snow peas, radishes, two kinds of cabbage (different varieties than what I’ve grown in the past), and these fluffy red sail lettuces you see, which were gifts from the Will Rogers Garden after a recent work day. Everything is still small and perfect. I am enamored by the petite sprouts of spinach and kale and by the rounded, optimistic faces of snow peas when they break ground and timidly unfurl that first pair of leaves. They say, “Surprise! I’m here!” And then an angel’s harp chimes once.
A half dozen tomato plants are sitting out there too, also gifts from Will Rogers. This is exciting if a bit risky, considering the last frosts we often get. A few days ago I scattered some extra basil seeds among the first tomato plants. Because, you know, Caprese. And adjacent to the edibles out there are so many perennial flowers and bulbs that come up on their own every spring. This year I can already tell they have multiplied like crazy. Clematis, day-lilies, bleeding heart, thornless blackberries, caladium, so much. A slow, easy meandering walk down toward the vegetable beds is worth doing any time of day. It quiets me. And excites me. I am quietly excited. Or excitedly calm. Both.
Whenever possible I have been venturing out around town here and there, exploring different garden centers and spending all the money I make selling eggs. Ha! This is its own kind of pleasure. Exploratory. Stimulating. The garden centers get me thinking of how things look together and of what my eyes are craving this year.
I’ve been to the big box and hardware stores when other farm errands require it, a fancy schmancy place way out north I keep hearing good things about (it’s drop dead gorgeous but expensive), and finally and with the greatest affection… Earl’s Nursery about ten minutes east of here. I love that place. They know me and I know them and we love each other. (Or at least, I love their plants and they love my money. This is a healthy arrangement.)
All the colorful displays are dizzying, you know? A kaleidoscope of color and texture unlike anything else. I walked through their greenhouses yesterday in a thin cotton sundress and straw cowboy hat and nearly sweated to death. That would have been a wonderful way to go.
More on this soon, but the curved flower bed and flagstone patio near our hot tub is getting a makeover. Yesterday I cleaned out most of that ocean of dried leaves, pulled what few weeds straggled up, celebrated the flowers emerging on their own, added composted horse and buffalo manure, and planted more pretty stuff, both edible and ornamental. So fun! I’ll share more photos and ideas from this project as it look better.
And as always, Mia the overly attached gander is right there ready to help. He provides unlimited cuddles and an unflinching goose soundtrack. “Hooooonnnk…” xoxoxo
After spending so many weeks planning and daydreaming about the new year’s garden, it is such a physical pleasure and mental relief to actually got outside and work. Move things. Affect change. Improve your surroundings. How divine to end a day sweaty and caked with dirt, decidedly in need of a second or third shower before cooking dinner.
Please share with me some details about your gardening so far! I so love hearing about what other people grow, how they do it, what plants they love best, and more. This personal exchange is one of my favorite parts of answering phones for the Country Extension, too.
Okay that’s it for today! Enjoy your outdoor spaces, friends. Move stuff around. Touch, smell, watch, love. Abandon yourself to the constant river of miracles. It will take you to good places.
Oh! And use manure and compost. If you are local and want some, drop me a line. We have a lot. Cheap.
“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’
and sitting in the shade.”
~Rudyard Kipling, Complete Verse