Garden Party

The unusually warm weather we’ve had recently has been a real treat.  Farmers who couldn’t do the field work they wanted to do last fall because of the rain that turned too quickly into snow were able to play catch-up, and a lot of fields are ready to plant ahead of schedule, and some planting has already been done.

Because we live in Wisconsin, most of us feel like there is a shoe left to drop, and that shoe will take the form of a blizzard, complete with a few feet of snow and below zero temperatures.  There is no meteorological basis for this expectation, just a feeling that something good is usually followed by something bad when it comes to weather.

I think people in the Midwest see the world that way more than other folks.  On a perfect day in June, you’ll hear people say, “we’re gonna pay for this later!”  I’ve never heard people in San Diego make the same prediction.

Well, I may pay for it later, but last weekend I got a start planting our garden.  Most years we don’t get the cold weather crops, like spinach and peas, planted in the early spring.  So, it was a personal victory of sorts to get some seeds in the ground the first week of April.

It seems like dates for planting certain vegetables are pretty vague.  The colder weather crops, it is said, should be planted on Good Friday.  The thing is, that can be any time after March 19th, since Easter takes place the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring.  But it can be as late as April 21st, if I’m not mistaken.  That’s quite a bit of latitude for planting your kohlrabi.

Most garden crops should be planted Memorial Day weekend, they say.  Even though we often have nice enough weather before that, we sometimes have one last frost in mid May.  I remember one year when there was a tiny patch of frost in the corner of a field near us the first week in June, so I guess there is no absolutely safe time to plant.

I think more people are planting gardens for various reasons. A gardener knows what chemicals have, or have not been put on their vegetables.  You can save money with a garden, though the argument can be made that it’s cheaper to buy vegetables in season and preserve them.

It’s possible there’s another reason.  A recent poll showed that 79% of voters, including 72% of Democrats, think it’s possible the U.S. economy could collapse.  That was a staggering figure to me, since our economy has always seemed to be rock solid.  I don’t know what a collapsed economy would look like, but it makes sense that being self-reliant couldn’t hurt.  Having shelves full of canned or dried produce would be a comfort.

Of course, a lot of people thought there would be chaos when the calendar clicked over to the year 2000 also, and that turned out to be unnecessary worry. 

For me, gardening is a hobby.  It isn’t about the economy or politics, but rather an escape from those things.  It is gratifying to enjoy meals that we’ve grown ourselves – especially in the dead of winter.  We’re far from being self reliant, though – unless somebody can tell us how to grow toilet paper.

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