Let’s start at the beginning:
Yes, at the heart of it all it begins with dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. This is half of what came to visit (and stay) a few weeks ago. I decided to get the new garden going early, so that the soil would settle in before planting. It has now rained, and snowed, on the evenly distributed dirt.
Obsessions sometimes manifest slowly. My obsession with gardening started with Tulips when we bought the house. Over the years I’ve planted about 1,000 bulbs. The squirrels have dug up almost 700. I’m way ahead. Great crop growing right now. The next step was corn. Just wanted to see if I could grow it in my yard. It is delicious.
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In the last decade that madness has morphed into a “what can I grow that will be fun” kind of thing. Much of what I hope to grow this season will not be consumed in my house. My wife doesn’t even like a couple of my main items, but they are a challenge to grow and that’s all I need.
This year I may have hit the zenith: habaneros. There are approximately 30 spots where I’ve planted seeds. I have eight varieties, and planted about six seeds in each spot. I have no idea which ones will come up in which place. That’s half the fun. What, you might ask, will I do with approximately 6 bushels of habaneros? I will dehydrate a bunch and give them as gifts in decorative Mason jars. They are quite pretty. The dehydration will take place in my nifty Cabela’s unit on the back deck: if you do it inside it produces pepper fog and the dog dies. Seriously. The gas from last fall’s experiment would make your eyes water 50 feet away. It was not a good week to be downwind.
That dehydration bunch counts for a small fraction of the haul. I will use the red/yellow/orange ones to make hot pepper sauce. I am already eye-balling small glass bottles that can be sealed and labeled with custom labels. Yeah – that kind of obsession. I may even give some away on the blog. Something inside makes me happy when I can things and share them. Consequently the basement looks like a glass store, as I cornered the market on jam jars when the fall clearance season hit. I really need another $50 worth of glassware (that I’ll give away) to make it complete.
I have a hunch a bunch of the produce will be given to the homeless meal program I work with – fresh beets will be on the menu at some point. I grow a nice, sweet variety. Same with the corn. Get a ton of it, and there’s only so much salsa a guy can make. But I will.
There are a few lessons along the way, some of them good, some of them bad. Examples abound on the good side: it’s good exercise, I like cooking, I like the look of the garden when it’s weed-free, I love the bees taking care of the plants, and I love eating things I grow.
On the negative side, I hate hornets (they love corn and beets), some creatures eat faster than I can grow things (Edzell, my late Sheltie, loved corn and fed himself well on my stalks before I got wise to him – I’d been blaming the squirrels…), and planting for 1.5 hours is just like doing squats. That one I discovered two days later when I couldn’t walk without looking like I’d been riding a horse. Something about moving about the patch, digging with my fingers and dropping seeds, all from the squatting position. I only stood up to see how things were laid out overall. Yeah, need to do squats at the gym, it seems.
The season is young. But my mental health will improve on those very hot days when I stand next to the garden and water for a few hours. Something about working up a nice sweat, listening to Al Stewart, and watching God provide me, and others, with food is pretty good for the soul.
Happy gardening to the rest of you addicts.
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