Monday, May 7, 2012

in my dreams

Don't you just love spring? Breezy cool days as temperatures slowly begin to rise. Sprouts and blossoms, new leaves on previously dormant trees.

I've heard of spring. I've read about spring. I've seen pictures of it.

I've just never---well---experienced a spring. Our weather usually goes from coats and sweaters to shorts and tank tops overnight. While I may be ever-so-slightly exaggerating, it always feels like yesterday was winter and today is summer. Every year.

Nowhere is this more evident than in a kitchen garden. And for me, no other kind of garden makes any sense. Of course, I grow flowers, edible flowers. Our trees are fruit trees. GK wants a small pine forest in the back yard. "Which ones have edible pine nuts and will they grow here?" was my only response. And yes, we do have some ornamental landscaping that was here when we bought the house. Even so, every plant we've added in seven years is edible.

I'm lucky with our growing climate in many ways. We have a least a dozen citrus trees. Rarely is winter weather here cold enough to threaten them, though it does happen. Eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, grapes, okra, all sorts of squash, even melons and pumpkins grow beautifully here. We have a long, hot growing season. And I know I've mentioned before that much of the world's garlic is grown here. I have little room to complain. It's just that I would love lots of dainty lettuces, radishes, sugar snap peas---all those lovely spring crops I fantasize about every year. Still, to this day, I convince myself that I can do it, that I can coax spring crops out of my 80 and 90 degree April and May. Pure fantasy. I can plant them, and I have. I can pray they come up, and they have. I have been known to actually clip a few tiny lettuce leaves for a salad. A moment of two that hold a glimpse of success, and then Wham! reality. Hot, sunny---no glary, dry days turn all those tender little leaves brown.

Every time I toy with the idea of eating local, always local, it comes back to our weather. Wonderful summer crops, satisfying fall harvests, not too horrible winters, but...but...but... My only recourse, I believe, is to create such an amazing, self-contained micro-climate somewhere in my yard that any and every spring crop would thrive. Do you think there's a kit?

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