Daylight savings time. An antiquated system that keeps kids from going to bed at night–it’s still light out–and gives every single Yankee farmer more time to plant potatoes. Apparently no one can plant potatoes earlier in the day. Daylight savings time is the Scantron test of the farm world–old things that never seem to fade.
Who in Congress got the bright idea that moving daylight savings time would save energy? I flip the lights on in the morning instead of the evening, so I can enjoy my coffee.
But I’m a grateful American. I’ll show Congress some scant appreciation by starting this year’s Yankee garden. First, I’m looking through seed catalogs for things I won’t kill. Soon, I’ll set up the greenhouse so I can try not to kill things a month earlier.
Things that are off my planting list: corn. Took up way too much space last year, and the only thing I got to use it for was fall decor. It didn’t grow ears. It just upset me, because I noticed the few non-GMO plants that survived were much scrawnier than the replacement plants I got later on. The farmer laughed at me. “Sometimes developments are good–it’s how we feed the nation. You’d be hungry otherwise.”
Brussels sprouts. Off the list. I love them, but they were two rows of gigantic plants that attracted bugs. The farmer laughed again. “Nobody likes to spray. But if we didn’t, the bugs would eat the food. You wouldn’t. It’s how we feed the nation. You’d be hungry otherwise.” She told me to be proactive next year. When I see worms chomping leaves, it’s too late. I’m becoming conflicted about issues regarding my food supply. I was such a purist until decided my dream was to get off the grid. I still think I can do it. But I’ll be skinny.
I don’t know if I’ll grow beans. I ate some last year, but they take up tons of room. There are things I like better. And the Jerusalem Artichokes were fifteen feet tall shading everything else. They’re out!
There’s snow on the ground but I feel like I’m ahead of the game. The garlic and asparagus are planted. The strawberries are set to come back, even though they’re in the vegetable garden instead of the orchard. By “orchard,” I mean the place where deer come for dessert when they’re done eating my flowers.
I fall victim to seed catalogs every year. I forget I said, “Don’t get those, they’ll be killed.” I make a list of heirlooms, non-GMOs, things that only grow in the tropics, and things I’ve wanted to taste but died every single year. And I buy them again.
This year, I even bought an app to tell me when to start seeds indoors. I think it’s called “Start The Seeds, You Moron.” Starting seeds is far more economical than buying plants, unless you’re predisposed to killing them. It’s about time to start killing them again.
In a week or two, I’ll plant them and they’ll wither and die. I’ll mourn for an hour, then take a pilgrimage to Al’s Greenhouse. I’ll load up on seedlings two weeks too early, poisoned by overzealousness and determination. They’ll die. I’ll buy replacement plants. I’ll plant them too early, gambling with the USDA plant hardiness chart. They’ll freeze and die, too.
This year, I’ll do better. I won’t plant early. I’ll meditate, do yoga, run. Do…not…plant. Resist…Don’t overcrowd…I promise…
But by mid April, the first casualty reports will roll in. The death toll will climb until May, the month where things start to live, then it’ll seem like success until those pretty little cabbage moths decimate my brassicas. My kale will get worms, and the zucchini will attack. By late June, I’ll lament how the few GMO plants dwarf the non-GMO seeds. For a brief moment in time, the devil on one shoulder will tell the angel on the other that Roundup might not be so bad. Or maybe I can just napalm cabbage worms…how do you get those #$%^% things to stay away? And the farmer will laugh and tell me what I should have done.
Sometime in the summer, I’ll realize I planted way too much, again, and by fall, I’ll be trying to keep an extra season of veggies in the greenhouse. This way, I can extend the killing season far into November if I follow Elliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook. And if I’m lucky, I’ll have stuff left to keep killing into the new year.
Who knows, maybe I’ll learn some lessons and improve. Stop by–you might just get a basket of cucumbers.