Today I carefully pulled back the straw from the garlic bed and found lots of little 2-inch sprouts. Ta da! A simple act, and suddenly hope blossoms, spring returns, and I reconnect with the earth after months of huddling indoors. Further exploration showed signs of the kale reviving, the peonies returning, and little compact bullet-shaped hyacinth starting to bud. A freshness and excitement fills the (almost) mild air, and a sense of accomplishment swells within me. I've survived another winter!
This year I kept the grow lights on all winter and ate lettuce, spinach, beet greens, chard, green onions, string beans, and various herbs from my kitchen counter. Over the next couple of weeks I'll wean these off, compost the soil, and start anew with the seedlings for the summer garden. It's just in time -- the chest freezer is getting low, just a few packets of carrots, beans, and Swedish peas left from last year's garden. I do still have quite a lot of the dehydrated stuff left -- kale, chives, green onion, cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers. I didn't use as much as I anticipated. (Go figure. I mean, what family wouldn't love rehydrated kale for dinner? They'll thank me when the zombie apocalypse happens.)
I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling this year, what with book signings and things, so I've got to focus on planting things that don't require daily care. I'm sticking to root vegetables, squashes, cabbages, kale, dry cooking beans, and other things that can basically fend for themselves while I'm away. The exception is green beans -- you simply can't have a garden without them. I hate the styrofoam-y store-bought ones, so there's no question about planting beans, even though they have to be harvested daily. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. (You can get people to come watch your dogs for you. Why not beans?)
Every year I try growing something new, and this year it's little baseball-sized round zucchini. They look ideal for stuffing and fun to try. I'm also planning to expand the flower beds a bit, and I have two packets of lupines to try. I think they'll be pretty along the side of the garden, next to the swath of lavender. They'll attract pollinators, yes, but there's also the cold fact that, if I ever tried to sell this house, no prospective buyer is going to want a yard entirely of vegetables. Some colour is called for.
I'm not planning to sell the house right away, of course; there are still children in it, after all. And there's the tiny little detail that I have 15 more years until retirement. But I still feel that springtime tug toward owning a small farm one day. Even while I know I don't have the health, stamina, or dedication required, I still find myself browsing the internet looking at chicks and incubators, rabbits for sale, plots of farmland, sales on steel-beam barns and apple cider presses and maple sap-collecting pails. Look, honey, there's a great deal on a manure spreader! Don't you think we ought to get one just in case...?
I don't think I'll ever win that argument. Though there are signs my husband may be starting to come around to the idea. The other day he told me about a couple of darling pygmy goats for sale on Kijiji...