Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we nurture a big garden every year. Planning begins in late winter with seed sorting and dreaming, followed by starting indoor transplants in very early spring. As seedlings under grow lights on counter tops and open floor space all over the house, outdoor locations are mapped out on paper.
Mapping locations for plants is a time consuming, science-based process, as we strive to maximize every square foot of growing space. One carrot needs 3 square inches, but one leek needs four square inches. An okra requires a bit less space than (most) pepper, which requires a bit less space than (most) eggplant, which in turn requires less space than a San Marzano tomato. Then there’s vertical space, needed for Chinese long beans, cherry tomatoes, and such.
Along with space demands, there’s companion planting and rotation planting to consider. Tomatoes, for example, grow well next to basil but grow poorly next to broccoli. Also, tomatoes may be planted where beans grew last year, but not where the potatoes were.
When the map is more or less complete, it’s time to use the cool days of mid-spring for prepping the garden beds, turning last year’s organic debris into the soil and mixing in fresh compost. Small plants begin spending their days in a sheltered location outside, getting ready for Planting Day.
Finally – finally – it’s Planting Day! In my Northern Midwest climate, this happens in mid to late May. It’s quite a holiday around here, digging and planting and patting and watering until, at the end of the day, I am muddy and tired and deliriously happy.
The thing is, for all of that planning and all of this work, it doesn’t look like much.
But I know what’s coming.
I know that if I’m patient, if I simply water and weed and persist through the bugs and the summer storms, good things will arrive in abundance.
For this gardener, it’s an excellent metaphor for life.