I have no need for my computer in the garden. I'm told there are endless apps and programs, tools and widgets to help me manage my agricultural adventures in the backyard. They hold almost no interest for me. I'm not averse to using the web for research; information is different in my mind then concrete application. But the garden is a place for my hands get dirty in a good way. The day slows down. The sweat on my neck comes from honest effort rather than onerous deadline. Every day in the garden is a moment of invention, and because that invention is a direct result of what kind of attention I put into the Earth, that invention helps me keep my keel on course.
Here in northern latitudes it's still relatively early for the big stuff to go in. Nonetheless, plenty of cool weather crops do just fine, and I've taken good advantage of the small patch of reclaimed dirt behind my home. Carrots, radishes, scallions, lettuce, peas, beans: in neat furrows I've planted tiny time capsules.
The filmmaker in me regards this first stage of my garden like a screenplay. Every year I approach the soil with a plan in hand, tools and my pail, and a willingness--a deep desire, even--to try and make something out of very little. Every year the seeds go in with great care and in no time at all a radical transformation begins. When those tiny sprouts come up, after about seven days, it's hard to tell the plants apart unless I've marked the rows properly, but the implication is vast and profound.
In late spring when the bigger plants go in, the tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers and more, vegetable music is already playing. I tend to plant the later crops from pre-sprouted seedlings rather than specifically from seeds. Once in the ground, I take great pleasure in watching the transformation of all the players in the garden grow and change each day. But I must confess, the best part is often in those first few weeks when the almost infinitesimally small seeds declare themselves against all odds and break through the topsoil into the open air.
I think I like to plant gardens for the same reason I like to create videos and movies and books and poems and more. There are always unexpected moments, even though the best laid plans present certain expectations about what's going to happen. Even with infinite variety and variation, a garden enables me to make plans with out feeling a need to be in total control. It opens the door to opportunity even as it facilitates surprise.
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