By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Winter was hard. Just as I thought I could start to socialize again, new variants of the Coronavirus surfaced, pushing me back into isolation. I found myself feeling haggard from too much work at home, sitting at the computer trying to manage my teaching work and other responsibilities as a college professor alongside running our farm.
I longed to rip open a bag of organic potting soil, fill a tray of 72 seedling cells, and start planting arugula. But my husband Jim and I have been moving our farm, and with me left responsible for much of the packing, decluttering, and cleanup of our old locale, there was little time or space to make such a dream come true.
Last weekend, though, was Easter and its promise of renewal. I celebrated with Jim at the new farm. We sunk our hands into the soil and began planting rhubarb crowns that had arrived two days earlier. I checked out the seedlings Jim had started under grow lights and marked times in my calendar for when I could help transplant those starts into the ground.
Last year, many of us fought back pandemic fear by creating what were dubbed “COVID gardens.” Gardeners planted radishes, turnips, arugula, lettuce, carrots, and peas. They obtained seedlings from such places as the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, along with tips on how to transplant, water, and fertilize.
This year, we can tackle combat pandemic fatigue with gardening again.
Seeds for most spring crops – think peas, radishes, turnips, carrots, beets, lettuce, and kale – are widely available. Seedlings for summer crops, along with such vegetables as broccoli, will be available soon at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market at the Wilton Mall on Saturdays and, starting in May, at High Rock Park on Wednesdays.
Many gardeners – from novices to experts – came to my market stall last year with stories about their successes – the spicy tang of a radish pulled straight from the ground, the sweetness of a tomato just off the vine – and their failures – the seeds that did not germinate, the rabbits who made the lettuce bed their salad bar. Their celebrations and their laments show how planting seeds is about more than growing food. It’s also about magic: the healing power of letting our hands touch dirt, the wondrous transformation of a germinating seed to sprout, plant, and fruit.
It’s time to get planting. Let’s do it together.
This week’s recipe: Cornbread