It is early spring in my three year old garden and so the trees are leafing out. So too are the fruit bushes and canes. Iris' are heading, daffodils are petering out and up comes all the perennials I've added slowly through my first dozen seasons.
All of this is for the beauty and to encourage me to want to spend time in my garden but it's also to add diversity and interest for the pollinators out there.
I've added plenty of perennial herbs as well to add health and choice in my cooking. And now, spring through fall, I will keep adding to the larder, enjoying the seasonal treats as they become available.
This is not a huge garden but I am feeding myself and visitors. I freeze, can, pickle and make enough jam to share and give as gifts. What's more, I am in my fifties and do all of this on my own.
How do I manage that?
I simply keep adding. I add a new bed, or more compost or top off the leaf mold mulch and the soil gets richer and richer. The berries and fruit trees come up again and again to give their gifts and I only have to receive them. Annual flowers added here and there add to the beauty and bounty and the annual vegetables are easily sown and fill my baskets.
Why do I do it?
The lettuce travels fifteen feet to my back door, the strawberries are ripe right to the center, and the grapes are not sprayed with pesticides. I want ready frozen, succulent green parsley on my linguini and clams and choice on my dinner plate. And I want to do whatever I can to use those oak leaves that would otherwise be trucked away on a stinky, smoky diesel truck. I can grow blue potatoes if that's what I want, the garlic of my choice, fresh winter squash and sweet potatoes that will keep for months and months. And a vase of rosemary and cosmos, zinnia, sunflower, coneflower and daisy is a special treat I can gather when I want to bring the sunshine in or give it to a friend.
All of this diversity mimics nature. There is no monoculture that can stand without tilling and pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Nature knows too much of one thing is nothing at all in the end. We need all the colors and all the variety to be healthy in our bodies and in our society and so does the garden.
What's more, my neighborhood has grown into a better place for me to be. My neighbors walk their dogs or ride their bikes and stop to chat. They make kind comments, I offer them strawberry plants, and answer questions about how they might grow some things too. Some bring me plants; others, their bags of chopped leaves. When the grapes come, I share. When my neighbor comments on my hollyhocks, I give her some seeds. And we all benefit, as human beings, as part of an eco-system that we've long dominated and damaged. So, even if you can't place seeds into the ground, you can give a little support to someone near by and they may just bring you some asparagus next spring, or some homemade apple butter. Or even just a beautiful view, right across the street.