I've been gardening in Vermont long enough to know exactly what sorts of tragedies and disasters can befall the process. Even the simplest of bad decisions (foolishly choosing the wrong tomato variety?) can run you into a ditch down the road. And even so, every spring I order up little packets full of promise, and while the snow still lays roundabout and the ground is yet frozen solid not far below the surface, I put seeds to dirt and count on the luscious bounty to come.
I pretend I don't know that 'summer' might just be an extended period of grey, cold, and rain, and that heat loving crops like tomatoes and peppers might simply stagnate in the cold wet dirt. I conjure that first warm, sweet tomato fresh from the vine, and I plan the jars of salsa I'll put up when the tomatoes and peppers threaten to overtake us. I forget about the pests that might mow down my pea shoots, and I dream of a bowl full of sweet, tender peas swimming in butter. I'm confident that this year I can thwart the cabbage worms, and I picture perfect tight green heads and resolve to finally make my own sauerkraut. I'm sure we won't have frost in August, and I imagine tucking into sweetly perfumed melons for September breakfasts.
My growing season started today. In a single flat, I scattered seeds for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, fennel, and cabbage, and gave them just enough water to soften and germinate. Then I had TJ help me set up what he calls our 'ghetto greenhouse' – a tall stand of Metro shelving, hung with fluorescent shop lights and wrapped in heavy plastic. A single 60-watt incandescent bulb provides just enough heat to keep the interior at around 75°F. In a week or so, tiny sprouts should start to push up into the light.
In the meantime, the greens I planted too late in the coldframe back in November have sprung to life in the warm March sunshine, so we can start eating crisp, sweet salads from our own dirt!