We sit here on this snowy day with seed catalogs fanned out before us. Not much for the scarecrow to oversee in the garden although the compost is cooking. We checked. This year we dream of expanding our yields, improving our crops. At the annual seed exchange in town we plan to share our best bets with our neighbors and hope to find a new treasure or two. We’re particularly enamored of heirloom and open pollinated seeds over their processed and scientifically produced hybrid show-offs. And please spare us genetic modification. We don’t have to worry about long-haul transport (the kitchen is just steps from the garden) and we’re not trying for long shelf life. We laugh when we remember how Chef went through our entire 2010 crop of garlic by mid-August. We quintupled the 2013 crop when we planted our cloves of Music last October.
The excitement now is about encouraging and renewing biodiversity in and around our little plot. We never allow chemicals near the property and we’re not about to start. It’s up to the predator insects to deal with the herbivore bugs. We don’t mess with their populations. And if that means we leave the scary wasps alone, then so be it. They are not our mortal enemy. We need them and the birds and bees to pollinate our produce and drop their surprise seeds into the garden. Last year we gained some towering new sunflowers where none had been planted. We need the butterflies and hummingbirds; the comfrey tea and the compost; the horse manure (thank you, George) and the eggshells to get the mix and the brew just right. ‘Need’ may be too strong a word here. Perhaps the word we’re looking for is ‘want’. We want what takes place naturally to take place and we know from past seasons that the results will be stunning. Nature’s like that.