For the first time ever, I got a proper spring garden planted. I’m not at all sure why I’ve never been able to accomplish this in all my years gardening. Despite the fact that I get paid to offer unsolicited gardening advice to complete strangers in a some pretty magazines, I really am sort of a half ass lazy gardener. I am death to houseplants. I stick to perennials in my yard because once they are established, I don’t need to do anything for them on a regular basis. It’s a tough love style of gardening, where plants just have to get themselves established by mid-July, because that’s when I kinda start forgetting to water. Pat will catch up the slack on the vegetable garden and thankfully, begonias and geraniums do well with my summer neglect, so for all outward appearances, I pull off looking like a competent gardener. But, to be completely honest, I’m really not at all the gardener I write about being. When people have me to their gardens and want to talk gardening with me, I have to admit the only flower names I know are the ones I like and/or grow well. And vegetables? I stick to greens I know I do well (arugula) and things anyone can grow, like peppers. Growing okra and field peas last year was a bit step outside of my garden comfort zone.
But every spring when I sigh over the fleeting season of fresh peas, my dear husband points out that I could in fact, grow them myself. All I need to do is put seeds in the ground. I’m already out there planting arugula – which at this point doesn’t need to be planted because it pops up like a weed in my garden – surely I could branch out just a wee bit?
And then there’s my friend Cynthia. She’s quite possibly one of the best gardeners I’ve ever come across. She starts hundreds of plants in her basement every February and then posts regular updates on what’s coming up and what it’s doing. As my friend Winter says, “Cynthia’s Facebook is like a step by step, this is how you grow things” handbook. It really is. And when one not only has that, but interacts with it and is frequently tagged in it, well, it inspires you to be a better gardener. Particularly when Cynthia makes it look so easy.
And so, this past weekend, I just did it. I ran to the garden supply store up the street to grab pea seeds. While I was there, I also grabbed some fava bean seeds and some cauliflower and broccoli starts. When I came home and set about planting, I ended up cleaning out my little stash of seeds, dumping a few older packets into the ground just to see what they’ll do.
Which is how I ended up planting all four raised beds with early spring veggies – beets, carrots (three kinds!), radishes, kales (yes, multiple varieties!), swiss chard, collards and various lettuces. More tender greens got planted in the cold frame, although so far the only thing popping up after being planted a week ago is – wait for it – arugula (I’m really, really good at growing that y’all). I’ll probably plant another row or two of things like peas, fava beans and lettuces just to stagger the harvest a bit. It would seem that all that garden writing has made me a better, more informed gardener. Which I suppose, gives me the credibility to actually offer advice to others. And that my friends, is how one becomes the garden writer they write about being.