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The Spring Garden: Lows and Highs

May 16th, 2010 · 7 Comments ·

It’s been a strange spring in Seattle, and all the gardeners I know have been a little off, including (maybe especially) myself.  First, we had a freakishly warm late winter/early spring.  While our biological selves still felt that they should be huddled by the fire sipping tea, the weather was telling us we should be out there toiling in the earth.  People couldn’t deal–several friends called to anxiously declare that they were “behind in the garden,” even though it was only the beginning of March.  Instead of happily perusing seed catalogs, everyone seemed crabby and stressed.  By the time we all felt truly ready for some sunny gardening, the normal Seattle spring kicked in, and we had a return to wintery weather in late April (including a full-fledged hail storm).

I plant bush peas, and though they don't officially require a trellis, I make a low stick trellis to provide a little structure.  The inner row of peas leans against the trellis, and the outer row of peas leans against the inner row to keep them all from flowing into the path.

I plant bush peas, and though they don't officially require a trellis, I make a low stick trellis to provide a little structure. The inner row of peas leans against the trellis, and the outer row of peas leans against the inner row to keep them all from flowing into the path.

In the midst of all this, I will confess to you, dear readers, that mid-February through mid-April were, for me, a difficult, melancholic couple of months.  Thinking of my spring garden, which usually brings me joy, just completely overwhelmed me.  “Take a break,” another writer-gardener told me.  “If it’s not sustaining to you, then it’s not right.”  This made sense for a moment, but I realized that if I didn’t get the peas in the ground, I’d regret it later.  So Claire and I trotted out into a cold March day and planted a long bed of Oregon snow peas, and our favorite Cascadia snap peas.  I had a little fantasy that the planting of peas would “cure” me, and though that didn’t happen, as the weather warmed and I returned little by little to the garden, the process did, over time, help to lift me back into the light.  And I was reminded yet again that the seasons have their own wisdom–our spring was up and down, but the sun is returning,  the garden is growing, the spring greens are feeding us, the beautiful vegetables of summer are beginning to show themselves, and our spirits are rising–all in good, right time.

Green480

Claire has her own little garden bed.  In addition to sunflowers, carrots, and strawberries, she’s planted three peppers–the bamboo arches hold up the black garbage bag she covers them with overnight.  Seattle peppers need coddling…

ClairePepper480The pole beans are just coming up.  Yesterday I could hardly see them, today they look like this:

Sprout480If your family doesn’t like the red-veined kale, try this–the Italian, curly-leafed heirloom kale.  Much sweeter.  Leafs480

I hope your gardens–big, small, patio, windowsill, urban, rural, inner, outer–are flourishing.

garden, seasons

7 Comments so far ↓

  • Erica Sternin

    Your post reminds me of one of my favorite scientific studies of all time: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/66840.php

    • lyanda

      Wow. That is amazing and wonderful. Thanks for sharing. Check it out everybody–contact with soil as clinical antidepressant.

  • Martha

    I was too overwhelmed to look through the seed catalogs this winter, which usually brings me so much joy. Your garden already looks beautiful. Aren’t those beans incredible how quickly they pop up?
    Best wishes for sunny days.
    Martha

    • lyanda

      Thanks so much, Martha. Yes, beans are an inspiration–growing so swift and green, even in today’s gray Seattle spring rain.

  • Regina

    I read your book this weekend while on the train to NYC from VA(I bought it for my husband who is a bird watcher wannabe)-I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it-I have been recommending it to everyone-I am a painter and I follow an artist blog that I thought of while I read your book-you may enjoy it too- she talks about painting the way you talk about walking and nature.http://loriannsignori.blogspot.com/

  • Sustainable Eats

    Lyanda your garden is looking beautiful. I’m glad you made it out to plant the peas because they will bring you so much joy to eat and look at. I think the up and down of the weather this spring has been emotionally hard on many.

    I’m normally an energizer bunny but I feel like my batteries just aren’t holding a charge this spring as well.

    I’m having a hard time keeping up with harvesting spring greens so I’m hoping something changes before summer bounty comes in fully.

    I hope you get your zen back soon.

  • Erica Sternin

    Are you harvesting peas yet? Mine are just coming on, tho they don’t taste that great and I wonder if the sugar content is low due to SO MUCH RAIN this spring.

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