This week my lovely Bride asked me why a pile of lumber had appeared in our driveway, thinking maybe I had some Christmas project in store.
“That’s for the garden beds,” I said.
“You do know it’s December, yes?” she replied. Which, from her perspective, was probably a perfectly rational thing to ask.
“Yes. But one day, it will be warm again. And I want to be ready.”
Every once in a while, someone asks me where I’m from. I’m always mildly surprised that my liberal usage of words like “Y’all,” “Ma’am,” and “It’s not breakfast without gravy” don’t give it away.
The guys in the local feed store know where I’m from. I’m the guy buying packs of vegetable seeds in March, a full two months before the locals put away their snow shovels. It’s the South in me that’s in an ongoing struggle with the length of a Maine growing season. Which is rather shorter than my Georgia roots feel is appropriate for anything called “summer.” I’ve come to love all the New England seasons (except maybe that six-week interval between Winter and Spring, which locals call “Mud”). However, calling the two and a half weeks of mild heat we get in Maine ‘Summer’ is more of a polite euphemism than accurate description.
This is not the South, where you can lazily decide to put in a tomato plant or thirty any weekend between April and June, and expect to harvest a bumper crop of red awesomeness to top your sandwiches with for months to come. You have got to be *ready* in Maine, or you’ve missed your opportunity and you’ll have to wait for at least one more Mud to come and go before you get to plant again. And like any good child of Appalachia, I like my winter pantry stocked full of the bounty of summer. My Bride will pickle and can corn, zucchini, beans, watermelon rind, and pretty much anything else that used to be tethered to a bit of dirt.
Last year, I managed to get a little early spinach in the ground, and some lettuce that was worth eating. But I got so busy that even the zucchini I managed to eventually get out into the garden struggled to grow.
When you’re struggling to grow zucchini, either you’re from Los Angeles, or you’ve something seriously wrong. I’m pretty sure there are Inuit families that can grow enough squash to get sick of zucchini bread before the 4 hours of Barrow, Alaska summer is over.
So yes. Garden beds in December.
It’s snowing outside at the moment. But I’m going to ignore that white crap falling from the sky and go build me some raised beds. Screw winter. And screw Mud.
Maybe I’ll plant a Christmas tree.
When you come visit, bring seeds.