Friday, January 1, 2010

The Obligatory Post of Garden Resolutions

The new calendar year starts today and visions of the 2010 garden dance in my head. I'm sure every garden journal and blog today will be replete with earnest commitments for the coming season, and I gladly join the chorus of hopeful resolutions.

1. Share seasonal feasts. Our family life is marked by the appearance of much-anticipated foods from the garden. The Italians have a word for a festival celebrating the bounty of a single, local ingredient: sagra. Our personal sagre include the first radishes, the four-course chive extravaganza, the first fried zucchini blossoms, the first tomato-basil salad ... the list goes on. I resolve to invite fellow food lovers to our table to share in the celebration. Perhaps even a potluck for spring food, summer food and fall food?

2. Vegetables: more variety, fewer plants. As I've discussed before, I usually over-plant certain vegetables -- a family of three, for example, just doesn't need three cherry tomato plants. In a very small garden such as mine, one or two plants of each kind should trump a row of a single species. Usually I dedicate too much real estate to a certain vegetable because a) they came in a four-pack at the nursery or b) the seed pack had 300 seeds in it. I resolve to start my own seeds when possible, and if I buy a four-pack I will gift the excess plants to neighbors. I will either share the excess seed, store it carefully for next season or guerrilla garden it it the vacant lots nearby.

3. Flowers: less variety, more plants. While I over-plant certain vegetables, I tend to take the opposite approach with my perennials. Usually my garden beds are studded with single specimens rescued from the end-of-season bargain table at the nursery. In the fall, I dug up and divided, and tried to mass my plantings more. I resolve to adhere to the design wisdom that even small gardens look nicer with healthy drifts of a single species rather than random scatterings of one or two plants.

Naturally, the garden cycle breaks into yearly increments and I am glad to set these goals for the coming months. Yet I want to move past the short-term, the myopic burst of fecundity that I tend each season. I resolve to be content with, as Wendell Berry writes, the crop I did not plant and that I will not harvest. I want to invest in the decade! In the millennium! On the first day of the year, I usually turn to Whitman. So here, from Song of Myself is my resolution of contentment:

"And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,/ I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait./My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite,/I laugh at what you call dissolution,/And I know the amplitude of time"

1 comment:

  1. I usually do the end-of-season sales too, I think it's a compulsive thing with me. "Oh, it's on sale, I can't pass it up!" I too veggie garden in a rather limited space, so I have to be pretty brutal in how much of something I can grow. Luckily I have a sister in town with a new and empty-ish garden and I give most excess plants to her.

    Christine in Alaska