by Heatherann Franz Woods
It is garden season and with that brings excitement and, in my case, trepidation. Will the earwigs move to the moistened mulch from their cozy home in the basement bathroom? Have the ants multiplied and claimed my garden beds as their home base for world takeover? Will spring yet again shrink to a weekend between seedling threatening second winter and lettuce bolting midsummer?
This year we get social distancing and the unknown future to add in the mix of frets. Greenhouses may be closed or limited. Seeds are scarce as stay-at-homers launch long-awaited home projects. Work could be interrupted at any moment as we get called back to jobs currently on stand-by. For those still working, perhaps longer or risk-filled hours, a garden could very well feel out of the question.
To each person remotely thinking of growing anything this year, I say do it.
I am no Master Gardener, no expert and no degree holder. I simply like dirt, sunshine and watching green things grow. However, in my experience, I do know one thing for certain.
You one-hundred percent should grow a garden. If ever there were a perfect time to do so, it is now. Against the outer wall of your home, in the strip between your sidewalk and the street, in a community plot, in your friend’s backyard, in pots on your deck, your patio, or your kitchen. Grow.
The internet is a rabbit hole of advice, plans, guides, vlogs, blogs and whatever else your researching soul desires. As every season passes, you can keep planning and never get into the ground. Every person who gardens has a garden. It works where they live, how they live and when they live. They have accumulated a wealth of experience because they started somewhere. Some of what you study can help, some could cause you to throw in the hoe. Gardening takes only a few ingredients: warmth, sun, soil, water, seed and you. Seriously. I know this sounds far too simple to both the seasoned agriculturalist and the timid agri-curious, but these elements and the excessive instructions on the back of the seed packet are all you need right now.
Soil composition is important. Viable heirloom and organic seed is important. Compost is important. Location, Zones, companion planting, natural pest control, and yes, even weeding, are all important. You absolutely need no comprehensive understanding to put a seed in the ground.
You will fail. We all do. We keep a few notes and tweak this or alter that and learn our own spaces. The place you decide to grow will teach you patience, resilience, forgiveness, resolve, the balance between nuture and neglect and most importantly, resignation. It will break you. Beautifully. Because you have to let go.
You will also win. Something will grow. It may not be heirloom purple broccoli your first go ‘round but you will grow something, and that something will taste better than any other version of it you have ever eaten. Carrots are like candy, a tomato, redefined. Life finds a way, be it planned or not.
Everything the garden provides is ripe for the situation we find ourselves in. I learned the hard way my first green year that I do not own a garden, it owns me. Which ever way I want to make it bend to my will, all of the factors out of my control force me to continually accept, address, adjust and adapt.
Your own plot of land, or pot of earth, can whisk you away to fonder memories of childhood or bring you so razor focused the rest of the world melts away for an hour. It is a therapist, a teacher, a friend. An unruly two year old and an obstinate teenager. It is my star-crossed lover and my Moby Dick.
We could all use a little grounding right now and your garden, your fiftieth or your first, will give you so much more than a tasty treat, if you bring what you learn there into whatever the world looks like when we step out into our busy lives again.
Get a little dirty. You have my word it is worth collecting under your fingernails.
Heatherann Franz Woods grew up all over, collecting life experiences and old addresses, until settling back in Spokane in December, 1999. A freelance writer, backpacker, gardener, plant lover, painter, mother, grandmother and want to be yogi, she is a self-described renaissance woman, still searching and still learning. She believes at the heart of being human is connection . Of living deliciously. Of being in life as love.
Owners of both Grounded Herbs and Edibles and The Missing Piece Tattoo, she and her husband Zack Woods, are cultivating different ways to participate in the community. With seven collective children and two and a half grand children, they keep busy but always have time for a chat.