Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Spring Gardening Plan

It has been a number of years since I've planted a vegetable garden. I have plans to have one again in the spring, however. Why plant a vegetable garden? I am sure that every gardener has his or her own reasons but I needed to decide what my own reasons are. It's not like I'm especially fond of digging in the dirt because I'm not. Is it the fact that I enjoy being outdoors? Nope, not that either because I have a real problem with heat and once May arrives the weather is usually uncomfortable for me.

Well it certainly couldn't be that I enjoy pulling weeds or getting bitten by bugs (see, I'm telling the truth when I say I'm not an outside kind of person!). So it must be something else; some other draw that makes me want to plant vegetables and watch them grow instead of buying them in the produce section of the supermarket like I've been doing for years now.

The reason is that it gives me a good feeling to grow some of the family's food. Pure and simple, that's all it is. There is a good feeling that comes along with planting some tiny seeds and in a few months being able to pick the bounty and help it to find its way to the dinner table.

I have wanted to get into home canning for a very long time now, so I may decide to plant some extra things (or a larger amount of my favorites) and try my hand at it. I'm not real sure about that, though, because it may be a bit too ambitious until I see how the garden is going to grow. I will feel so much like Mary, Mary and I'm sure I'll be quite contrary as she was.

In the days of our grandparents and great grandparents and back through time, having a garden or not wasn't a choice that they made each year like I am now doing. When the ground was ready, the garden was planted and there was no debate about it and no other way to do things. I am a big fan of historical things as well as genealogy so that is an additional plus for me, to feel that I am doing something my ancestors all did.

In the past when I've had a vegetable garden, I sometimes had a bit of a problem knowing how much to plant and ended up with excess. One year it was zucchini and I spent way too much time looking for recipes so that I could serve it in new and different ways. I still have to smile at the number of dishes that can be made with zucchini!

Another year it was tomatoes. Now that one wasn't so bad because I enjoy Italian foods. That just meant that many of the extra tomatoes ended up in homemade spaghetti sauce, lasagna sauce, and so on. Some of the excess tomatoes went into chili to freeze and many of them ended up sliced for the table or put into salads. Extra tomatoes are rarely a problem.

I need to be sure not to plant too many onions. I tried recently to freeze some that a neighbor gave to me. (I guess he didn't anticipate that planting too many onions would be a problem!) I just don't like the way they turn out once they are frozen. If you dice them up and then use them for something like chili, they're fine, but I tried slices and it just didn't turn out well. The odor in the freezer and fridge even when they are wrapped very well is a consideration, too.

I enjoy garden peas, but I think I'm recalling from the past that it takes an incredible amount of picked peas to get enough for even a small family. If I plant peas, it will be just enough for a few meals and I think that will be enough.

I might plant potatoes but not corn. For some reason, watermelon or cantaloupe never worked well for me as much as I love eating them. Then again, since this is a new house and different soil, maybe I will try them once again. I won't grow lettuce but will grow cucumbers.

See, I almost have it all planned out already! When it comes right down to it, nothing beats produce that you know is fresh and you will have the assurance that nothing nasty has been sprayed onto it or spread on the ground while it was growing.