Torte of garden greens, herbs, and garlic with spicy pesto; slow-cooked beans, cucumber and cherry tomato salad.
I come home all too profoundly aware that these are war times and of the enormity of human suffering.
And, to my great good fortune, I came home to my own kitchen and made a savory lentil stew with whole grain rice garnished with the first fresh herbs from the garden (cilantro and garlic chives).
It has been too cold for the nasturtium seeds I sowed a few weeks ago to germinate. By the time they germinate and grow, it will be too hot for the plants to thrive. (As a landscaper neighbor and friend of mine said of this dilemma this morning: “welcome to spring in Washington”). Nasturtiums love cool weather and really only do well in my garden until June.
The solution: I bought a few seedlings. I planted the seedlings where I sowed the seeds. By the time the seedlings have long since flowered and are starting to get leggy, the seeds will have germinated, and I’ll get nasturtiums for an extra few weeks at the end when it starts to get hot.
This combination of sowing seeds and planting seedlings also works well for me with annual herbs such as basil, dill, and parsley. The seedlings give me a few weeks head start; the seeds give me plentiful, inexpensive new plants when the plants that started in my garden as seedlings are starting to bolt.
I do only seeds for greens — kale, chard, mache, arugula, spinach, cilantro and beets. I can sow them in March and by now they are starting to feed me. I do only seedlings for tomatoes and peppers (I don’t have the facilities to get strong seedlings and starting with seedlings extends my growing season up 6-8 weeks).
It would be wonderful to garden entirely from seeds (swapped or harvested from last year), but the reality is that I am not a full-time gardener, but want to have a garden full-time.
In yoga practice the concept of diksha — initiation or threshold — carries with it a sense of right timing and conscious understanding of readiness for the next level. For example, knowing I was not yet strong enough, this past weekend I chose not to try to jump from adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog) to svanasana (headstand), but instead concentrated on doing the poses one at a time, even though I was surrounded by people who could do the transition with ease and my ego was challenged. Until I am stronger and better able to hold the alignment in poses at that level, I would be too much at risk of hurting my neck and shoulders.
In the garden, it is easy to be fooled by a beautiful weekend to move right to activities that are still 3-4 weeks premature. Even though it will hit 70F this weekend, it is not time to plant (other than perhaps an experimental row or pot of kale, chard, or beets, which like the cold). The best gardening you can do in the beginning of March when the weather is swinging wildly from below freezing to unseasonably warm is to read and plan and start seedlings indoors, just like it is best to warm up and work on strength, alignment, and flexibility before going for harder asana in your yoga practice. It will be tempting to get out this weekend, but do the prep stuff and the clean up.
Here are some favorite books of mine to get ready for planning. It is mostly more practical stuff (rather than the super glossy, beautiful garden as splendid art and architecture picture book reading) with some food and yoga overlap and a bias for small urban gardens.
The Yoga of Herbs — An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, D. Frawley and V. Lad (Lotus Press, 2d Ed. 1988)
Gardener Cook, C. Lloyd (Willow Creek Press 1997) (OK — this one is kind of cooking, gardening porn)
The Edible Container Garden — Growing Fresh Food in Small Spaces, M. Guerra (Fireside, 2000)
The Bountiful Container, McGee and Stuckey (Workman Publishing Co., 2002)
Small-Space Gardening — How to Successfully Grow Flowers and Fruits in Containers and Pots, P. Loewer (The Lyons Press, 2003)
Kitchen Herbs — The Art and Enjoyment of Growing Herbs and Cooking with Them, S. Gilbertie (Bantam, 1988)
The New Kitchen Garden, A. Pavord (Dorling Kindersly Ltd., 1996) (Also pretty and glossy, but still practical)