The heck with winter—the seed catalogues are rolling in, and it’s time for our annual seed bee!
For the past few years, I and two neighbors have been convening in midwinter to compare garden plans, swap seeds, and assign tasks to make our individual gardening seasons more efficient and economic. This year we were joined by one of my oldest friends, who moved into the area last winter and spent her first gardening season discovering the differences between zone 5 and zone 3. Finally, I’m no longer the one with the worst sun, soil, and yield!
She, however, is perhaps the most zealous gardener among us, so I predict that her garden will outperform all of ours in the not too distant future.
But that’s beside the point. This year our seed bee became a micro CSA program. That’s because I will not be doing a garden. Instead, I will contribute time, labor, and resources to other people’s gardens in order to get a share of their produce.
Why am I bailing out of vegetable gardening after fifteen years? Mainly, burnout. Not on gardening, but yardwork in general, owing to the enormous backlog of projects, and the time and physical exertion they will take to complete in our brief outdoor season. Big events recounted in previous blog posts—particularly, the pine tree logout and my mother’s demise—rendered our yard and garden out of control, if not set back two years in progress.
When I add up what must be done just to clear the yard enough to mow by May—never mind to catch up on ten cords’ worth of firewood processing, and to start or finish projects that have been desired or planned for years, and then preparing, maintaining, and harvesting a garden on top of it all, around paying work that controls the tempo, and any little recreational time we manage to snatch—I either start to cry or calculate packing my car and hitting the highway and never looking back.
Not the right attitude for making things grow and flourish!
Thankfully, my generous, enthusiastic neighbors are willing to plant a little extra and share. All I have to do is pony up some cash for materials and spend a few hours a month helping plant, weed, or harvest. Then, in my own yard, I can just toss seeds into containers and enjoy happy-colored flowers. The veggie garden will be planted with a green manure, probably buckwheat, to prevent it from becoming a weed disaster. My neighbor who has done this during bed rotation claims it attracts tons of bees.
So we’ve found a way to solve our collective challenges and become better friends while at it. What a great way to spend a winter morning!