The Garden

“Why does being in your garden make you so happy?” asked my sixth- grade granddaughter as she was helping me plant peas. Then twelve and very interested in all things having to do with make-up and clothing in her LA lifestyle, her question was sincere.

Age 12 in this photo, Sasha was already a practiced hand at planting peas.

“It brings me joy to take care of the earth,” I responded.

“Oh, now I get it,” she said and continued her meticulous placing of each soaked seed into the ground with a careful pinch of inoculant powder.

Nobody has ever asked me that clear question before. It helped ME realize that one of the most restorative actions I take on behalf of myself and the earth is tending our small vegetable and flower garden.

Carefully fenced to keep out deer and bunnies, our raised bed garden gives soil a chance to warm early in our cool climate.

 

Since 1998, this 20’x40’ (6×12 meter) fenced piece of earth at the north edge of our property has received my love and care. Raised beds have rewarded us with baskets of fresh vegetables, many pints of blueberries and raspberries, and exquisite bouquets of flowers.

Of all the seasons of the year, the spring garden is probably the most inspirational—not the most productive, but the time that tunes me most closely to the changes happening in the earth at the moment.

 

 

 

Spring makes everything seem possible. Raspberry canes without leaves shoot out greenery no matter the fluctuation of temperature.

Raspberry canes putting out foliage to provide nutrition for the plant when the fruits of summer are borne.

Tender spinach, arugula, kale and pea plants are pushing their way up through the cold earth despite a frost as recently as two days ago. Life cannot be stopped!

April is prime asparagus harvesting time. Tiny kale seedlings planted on the front edge of the bed will provide food when the asparagus turns its energy to sprouting its feathery leaves to put energy back into the underground crown.

While in the garden today on Earth Day, I noticed an osprey flying overhead. They are just returning from their annual long migration from Mexico. Life cannot be stopped!

Remay cloth over pea seedlings to give the soil more warmth and protect from cold winds.

 

 

A pea seedling peeks out from under its protective Remay cloth covering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling up the remay cover cloth on the peas, I notice that the small seedlings are ready for more sunlight, so I remove the cover cloth completely. Life cannot be stopped!

Tree swallows, also returning from their wintering grounds in Mexico, are dive bombing the eaves of our house ready and eager to find a nesting spot. Life cannot be stopped!

Thirty minutes of garden-tending this Earth Day has given me a wonderful shot of optimism and hope. We all need a spot of nature and an outdoor activity that offer us replenishment. I hope you find yours—go plant some pansies, or pull weeds from the sidewalk cracks, or stand under a lilac bush. It’s Earth Day—not just April 22nd—but every day. Life cannot be stopped!

Tulips bloom all through April, a cheery respite for often rainy, cool days.

35 replies
  1. Deb Lund
    Deb Lund says:

    Awww… and now I’m more hopeful—personally, for our community, and for the future, especially for all who may be influenced by a certain LA sixth-grader. Nice work, Sasha!

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      The straight forward curiosity of a child is always an open door, if we chose to walk through it. So glad you found inspiration in this writing, most certainly that was my intention. Ann

      Reply
  2. Linette Harriott
    Linette Harriott says:

    My task this weekend is to plant broad beans and more rainbow chard (I can never have enough!). This June when the bare rooted trees are available (here in southern Australia) I plan to plant a mulberry, a lime and some raspberries. That will bring me joy.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Ah, Linette, my gardening friend on the other side of the world, so comforting to know you are still at work in the garden! How can we not be? Ann

      Reply
  3. Anne Stine
    Anne Stine says:

    You remind us of the truth, so important during this times of great forgetfulness, that life/love is always present and accessible, right here, hands in the soil, hearts uplifted as your peas are doing. Thank you dear wise woman, you too are unstoppable. love you….. Anne

    Reply
  4. Katharine Weinmann
    Katharine Weinmann says:

    “Life cannot be stopped!”
    Your post reads like a praise song…a heartfelt and heartening balm for the winter and world weary. We ordered a large garden container (2×8 feet) from friends who make greenhouses. I look forward to growing what my CSA doesn’t deliver.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Honestly, being in the garden feels like a praise song this time of the year. Bravo on starting your own container garden! Ann

      Reply
  5. Mary
    Mary says:

    And, I can totally relate to the joy that you experience seeing small green things emerge from the cold dark. are used to have a large garden where I grew everything from onions and garlic and potatoes through the warm weather crops of cantaloupes and melons and of course tomatoes.
    That chapter has close to my life, and while I did lamented for a while, I am quite full of joy with my small little garden now.
    Thank you for your words, words of encouragement, words of gratitude, words insight. I treasure you.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Ah, Mary, one of my keys to joy in the garden now is NOT overdoing it. We certainly don’t raise enough to feed ourselves, but I certainly raise enough to experience the full miracle of plants growing. With appreciation, Ann

      Reply
  6. Cynthia Trowbridge
    Cynthia Trowbridge says:

    This time of year I see something new every time I look out the window or step out the door. What a glorious time of new life and color and soon delicious fresh veggies.
    I become more aware of the great gifts of living here.

    Reply
  7. Kathryn Harrington
    Kathryn Harrington says:

    Ann,
    Happy Earth Day! You have always inspired me to look closer at the world around me. I will always remember 33 years ago when we moved to Stillwater and you came to lead Stonebridge Elementary for their Earth Day Celebration a year later. You have such a gift sharing your love for nature with others. Love you, dear sister, Kathy

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Kathy, your comment means so very much to me! I, too, remember going to your children’s elementary school and, of course, they now all have children! Love, Ann

      Reply
  8. GG
    GG says:

    I so love this Ann. Indeed, life cannot be stopped! What a perfect Mantra for these times. Simple. Hopeful. Thank you! xo

    Reply
  9. Bonnie Rae
    Bonnie Rae says:

    “Life cannot be stopped”. I love this mantra and I love it as an oath to the Earth that she won’t be abandoned. Not on our watch! Wonderful to see your sweet sixth grader getting her hands in the dirt and her mind around a simple, profound curiosity about your devotion. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Thank you for the reframe of the mantra: An oath to the Earth that she won’t be abandoned. Not on our watch! Ann

      Reply
  10. Sandy Foreman
    Sandy Foreman says:

    We spent Earth Day basking in the beauty of springtime in the San Francisco Bay area while also nourishing our relationships with our daughter, son-in-law and nearly teenage twin grandchildren. Like plants, humans require loving attention.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      You are so right, Sandy! And another similarity—some times the changes in our relationships are barely perceptible, until we look back over the course of months or even years. Children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighborhood children all grow up so fast and reflect back to us that we, too, are getting older! What a wonderful Earth Day thing to do! Ann

      Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Ah, not to be depressed! Pick up a tidbit here and there and each year the garden improves. The Remay cloth is easy—available at hardware and garden centers—and a real help for germination in a cool, long spring like ours. Inoculant is the “black powder” as our granddaughter Sasha calls it. Put a pinch in with the bean and pea seeds when you plant them to insure the right bacterial mix to stimulate germination. And now you have two inexpensive tidbits to improve your garden. And the buttercup? Well, good old steady weeding is the only answer I know of for an organic garden.

      Reply
  11. Jeanne Petrick
    Jeanne Petrick says:

    “Life Cannot Be Stopped” indeed, and thankfully. Such joy in harvesting and using the fruit and veggies from our carefully cared for gardens and having it nourish us a second time – first in its beauty for our souls and then in its life energy for our bodies! Reading this just warmed my heart, Ann, thank you – I can feel your love of this practice and love of the land. It is quite contagious!! (Robert and I begin our small garden in a week here in the Midwest!) xxx

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      With appreciation, Jeanne. I am imagining that you and Robert will have an exquisite small garden. Your artistry will undoubtedly extend to the palette of your food growing. Love, Ann

      Reply
  12. Steve Jones
    Steve Jones says:

    Very good. Yes, I agree everyone needs a piece of this Earth that they can love and care for. Children especially. Kids need to be given a part of the yard and told it is theirs to take care of and let them create a part of the Earth that is just theirs. Give them some ideas and let them use their imagination.

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Excellent idea, Steve! A bit of tutelage would be helpful, of course. While my father did not give me that much authority over any of the yard, I delighted in working with him on many parts of the garden and was proud when he trusted me to mow the lawn with our double reel, open lawnmower at age 10.

      Reply
  13. Jana
    Jana says:

    I am marveling at all of the beautiful blossoms (responses) that sprang up out of the nourishing, nurturing soil that is this post. A boon for springtime gardening everywhere!

    Reply
    • Ann Linnea
      Ann Linnea says:

      Yes! The comments, ideas, and suggestions that come from the post are always something I look forward to and learn from! Ann

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *