Friday, January 13, 2012

Fourth year blues



Last week should have been a happy week, sort of like Christmas come again. Last week the catalogues from three seed companies arrived in the mail. This should have launched an orgy of reading and planning next year's garden, the equivalent of my seven-year-old self poring over the Sears Christmas catalogue, reading every description of every toy, wondering how I would ever choose only one or two. But it didn't.

I flipped through the catalogues, I put sticky notes on a few pages, I made a note or two in my garden book, but my heart wasn't in it. Onions? Oh, I'll just stick with the usual Red Wing and Copra varieties. Tomatoes? I'll just plant what I planted last year. Peas? Same old, same old.

This will be the fourth time I plan a vegetable garden. I should get weeks of planning pleasure out of those catalogues. But what I got instead was The Fourth Year Blues. What was wrong with me? How could I still have been so excited last year, and this year be in the doldrums?

Last year I planned my garden just after reading Carol Deppe's book The Resilient Gardener, and was excited about winter squash, and getting protein from the garden, and improving potato yields. I was going to try growing broccoli, Brussels sprouts, quinoa and garbanzo beans for the first time. My garden was going to be my laboratory, full of interesting experiments. This year? Not so much.

Maybe it's just that the whole business of growing food, something that was so new and exciting, so life changing, has simply become more routine, more regular, more a part of the daily background. Maybe it's that my wish to tighten our gardening budget has left me feeling too constrained. Or maybe my natural tendency to organize and routinize has left no room for play.

In any case, I decided what I needed was an injection of whimsy. Something whose appeal has nothing to do with food values, or self-sufficiency, or anything practical at all. Yes, I would continue to grow the reliable standbys that have seen me through the first three years. But I would flip once more through the catalogues looking for something that would inspire me with its quirkiness, its beauty, its impracticality.

And here's what I found: pink popcorn and brilliant red corn poppies. One is for play, for a silly pink colour and a bowlful of fluffy kernels. And one is for beauty of a natural and random sort, the kind that springs up when seeds are simply scattered, rather than being planted one by one at a prescribed depth in rows of orderly pots in a temperature-controlled greenhouse according to a predetermined timeline.

That's what I'm going to grow this year: play and random beauty. I'm looking forward to the harvest.

Image from here.

11 comments:

Lindsey said...

I know exactly what you mean - I feel the same way this year. It's complicated with the fact that I saved enough seed from last year to not have to shop the seed catalogs this year. Which was the point. But I'm still slightly disappointed.

Think about how nice it will be when it's warm and the wind is blowing slightly and we are standing in our abundant gardens eating snow peas off the vine.....

Natalie said...

OOOh... I like your choices. Now you've got me excited, too!

jeanives said...

I have painted one piece in the last two years and just now am beginning to think I might do another. There can be too much of a good thing no matter how good the thing. And a job is a job, no matter how much you may enjoy it, if it "has" to be done.

Flartus said...

Hmmm, yeah. Maybe it is a year four thing...I think last year was our fourth garden here, and it was more of a chore. I always expect spring to change my attitude, but right now the thought of getting out there with a shovel just doesn't do anything for me!

Paula said...

A very good idea.

The Witch said...

I received my seed catalog before Christmas and immediately started to go through it and pick out next years garden items. Never have I done this, it has always been into the new year that we plan. I found the change just what I needed. New addition to my garden Asparagus peas! Sounds interesting. Veseys Seeds catalog is just wonderful to skim through and dream, but the seeds are very good producers and should work well in your region of Canada.

Shim Farm said...

I've got the 10th year blues. That's probably not a good thing to admit, eh? I'm holding out for raised beds this year - I've had it with weeds encroaching my hard work - so we'll see what Summer 2012 holds.

Between Vesey's and Stokes and Richter's, there is still a lot of dreaming to do, mind you!

Toni aka irishlas said...

I've always grown something fun or different. Keeps gardening peak interest for me, though, I have to admit, I find gardening a type of therapy!

Happy New Year to the two of you!

Holly House said...

Corn poppies! That's what's been in our back yard! They keep coming up wild here. Pink popcorn sounds amazing! I love the idea of picking one new thing every year, since if you save seed from year to year you'll have the extra money. I'm excited to see how they turn out!

A Brit in Tennessee said...

I like the idea of unusual crops, I wish you well !
I've started picking out new flower seeds, I'd like to say they will be planted and I will ooh and aah over their growth, sometimes they remain a post-it-note on a page ;)
~Jo

Lyssa said...

Maybe something else is waiting to capture your imagination for this season?

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