This weekend I started the tomatoes and gooseberries indoors in their mini pots. I used to use the peat pellets you soak to expand, but the last couple of years I've used Keurig coffee machine one-serving cups for growing seedlings. My colleagues at work drink about 300 coffees a day, and they were just going to waste (the plastic cups, not the colleagues!). So I asked if I could haul a big bag of them home. The coffee grounds and filters went into the compost and the washed plastic cups, filled with seed-starting soil, are perfect -- they even have a ready-made drainage hole already. Nestled in their black plastic tray, they'll perch atop their heating pad until the seeds sprout, and then I'll move them under the grow lights until time to plant out. I've also started a tray of lettuces which I'll just harvest indoors as they grow.
Like any keen convert, I am dedicated to converting my neighbours and friends to the joy of vegetable gardening. I've taught workshops and seed-saving seminars, I give away extra seeds, and I love giving out excess vegetables to people. I've discovered that feeding people is as enjoyable as growing the food, and there is something very satisfying in watching a person's eyes light up with pleasure at the first bite. I believe deep relationships can be built on food.
Gardeners are optimistic people, since gardening by its very nature is about looking to the future. I stand in my muddy patch where the snow is still melting and I see the first spears of the garlic coming up and envision the whole garden in a riot of summer growth. I am awash with a sense of abundance. The earth provides all we need. One of my favourite scriptures is Doctrine & Covenants 59:15-20.
"And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances...the fullness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth the trees and walketh upon the earth; Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart...for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess..."
Gardening teaches you about seasons, about taking each thing that life brings to you in its season, and not trying to live in a different season than the one you are in. There are ways to extend gardening into winter, but I don't tend to want to do that, because I'm okay with winter being a season of rest, of daydreaming. I'm okay with spring and summer being seasons of hard work, and autumn being the season of harvest. When it comes to gardening, seasons seem simple and logical. I wish I were so philosophical about the other seasons of my life - aging, child-rearing, working, learning - and were content to be in whatever season I'm in. I think too often I'm looking backward or dreaming forward and forget to enjoy now, this moment. That will be my goal this summer. I'm looking--ahem---forward to it!