Soul Food

Since the Gnome and I took up gardening in a serious way, food has sort of taken over my life. It all starts in January when I sit down with the tall stack of seed catalogs that have been filling my box for the last month or so.

The pictures alone make me drool. The exotic new vegetables, the colorful ones, and especially bean seeds capture my imagination. In truth, beans aren’t my favorite dish, but I’m batty over the seeds. So, beans take up a fair amount of the garden landscape.

After the seeds arrive in February or March, I begin diagramming the garden. How much space to allot to this or that veggie, how to rotate the crops, which plants will be good companions are all questions that come into play during the planning process.

Spring means cleaning up the previous year’s garden, weeding, and watching long-term forecasts to determine when I dare to plant the earliest crops. By late spring, I do an almost daily dance with the weather, trying to outguess its long-range plans. Can I push the planting up a week this year or should I err on the side of caution and wait for that ‘last average frost date’?

At whatever date I settle on, planting begins in earnest, along with mulching and more weeding. Seeds need moisture to germinate, so I find myself in the garden with a hose on dry days. Within days, maybe up to a couple of weeks in some cases, tiny green sprouts begin popping up out of the ground. It’s a magical time and my joy is palpable.

When I’m gardening, I’m following in some mighty big footsteps. Feeding the family from the land was the work of all my grandparents and theirs before them. For them, it was honest work that meant survival. Every moment I’m in the garden feeds me ancestrally.

But harvest time is what truly feeds me, both literally and figuratively. I can’t help but smile when I look at a dinner plate filled with only the bounty of our garden: green salad, asparagus, Swiss chard, squash, rutabaga, corn, kale, eggplant. Whatever the dishes of the day, I’m satiated before I take the first bite.

Harvest time also means preserving, another soul-fulfilling activity. The hours and days I invest in food preservation mean we’ll have tasty, healthy eating from our garden all the way through winter and right on up until the next harvest season rolls around.

Typical grocery list during gardening season

Harvesting food and preserving it make me sing. It doesn’t get much better than that.

8 thoughts on “Soul Food

  1. Pingback: The Tyranny of the Garden – Living on the Diagonal

  2. FYI those beautiful red speckled beans you are holding in your hand look scrumptious to me! I hope you know how much I enjoy reading EVERYTHING you write… and how all those in your family must feel the love and gratitude you show your ancestors …. keep writing and keep growing….

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  3. Absolutely…you are singing my song. My homesteading days are long over, but I still grow almost all of our veggies, and some fruits. I love preserving all the excess that can’t be consumed on a daily basis. Today it was elderberry cordial, marinated cipollini, and tomato juice, plus freezing bits of black-eyed peas & broccoli. Blessings as you grow, in all ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, I have a novel idea- you and Ron do a senior camp during harvest (or some other) time. Jim and I will “camp” in Boone and be day laborers to sample homesteading with you. You can put us to work.

    Liked by 1 person

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