If You Can, Plant a Garden

I really hate to get all gooey and girly and squeee here because it’s very embarassing and unbecoming but holy cow how much do I love Michael Pollan. I believe you have to be a subscriber to read it, but take a look at this article in the New York Times.

“Cook. And if you can, plant a garden. To take part in the intricate and endlessly interesting processes of providing for our sustenance is the surest way to escape the culture of fast food and the values implicit in it: that food should be cheap and easy; that food is fuel and not communion. The culture of the kitchen, as embodied in those enduring traditions we call cuisines, contains more wisdom about diet and health than you are apt to find in any nutrition journal or journalism. Plus, the food you grow yourself contributes to your health long before you sit down to eat it. So you might want to think about putting down this article now and picking up a spatula or hoe.”

I would so be out there right now doing that very thing if it were not the dead of winter. The indoor plants are great and all… I had a nice session this morning bathing the orchids and epiphytes… soaking in the smell of wet bark and sand. But I’m really missing that time spent outdoors in the gardens picking dead foliage, and rubbing fragrant leaves and flowers between my fingers. I have never missed the growing season as much as I do right now. It’s like an ache inside that I am only really experiencing for the first time. I am actually tearing up just thinking about it. Wow am I ever a sap.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

Subscribe to get weekly updates from Gayla

11 thoughts on “If You Can, Plant a Garden

  1. Yes, I’ve been getting more joy out of the indoor plants than usual this year as my own ache has started lately too…especially the fragrant foliage like patchouli and the scented geranium. Can’t wait to get outside and DIG.

  2. We’ve just entered a cold snap in Minnesota. The desire for something green seems so much stronger when the actual temperature is 1 F. My stash of frozen veggies from my garden and the CSA box is dwindling, and I can’t even think about starting seeds for MONTHS!

    Thanks for linking the article. I have “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” in my pile of books from the library, and I’m interested to start it.

  3. We have also entered a cold snap complete with lots of snow. I may need to make a trip to the Greenhouse in order to appease this awful feeling. Except that when it gets this cold I find ways to avoid going out.

    I still have three bags of beans and some basil pisto in the freezer that I’m hoarding. I’m even getting nervous about some of the dried herbs and I thought I did a lot more of that than usual this year. There is just no way I could ever see myself buying thyme from a store.

  4. I adore Michael Pollan and I loved how cranky he sounded in that article. His tone came off as someone who has been saying the same thing for years and just now people are starting to listen.
    I got very excited too when I read his recommendation to plant a garden. I’ve been feeling depressed too about not being able to just go crazy with my plant plans. I moved across the country, from Atlanta to Tucson a few months ago. I had to give away over 50 plants (all in containers) that I had nurtured over the years, including a big lemon verbena and meyer lemon tree. And now it’s really hard to start anything lasting because I don’t know how long we’re going to be in this place. So I am trying to think small and short-term but it’s been killing me (sorry for the melodrama).

  5. The book “Gardening in Eden” always makes me cry when I read it this time of year. This winter seems to have been dragging on for.ev.er…

  6. I just cleared out the last of the leaves in my front beds yesterday. The daffodils are already up. For us, the spring is coming a little too soon. I’m happy to be in the garden again, but concerned about how warm it is.

  7. Ahh! I feel all of your pain! I just started gardening last year (it was the first year I had a yard!). Before that I’d had some potted plants on my back balcony of our apartment, but I could bring those all in and care for them over the winter (and still do). But now, especially since I just bought the You Grow Girl book and have been reading it, I am itching to get outside and start on some of my plans! The other day I got an e-mail from a friend in the States, who was going on about how there are blossoms in the trees and flowers poking up and I looked outside at our -40 winter wasteland and truly felt sad. However, there are tons of things to do before gardening season hits – like making new flower boxes, painting terra cotta pots pretty colours, and drawing and re-drawing plans. When I think of all the things I have to do, I realize Spring will be here sooner than we think!

    For now, because I’m a total geek, I wanted to see something new sprouting, so I resurrected a kindergarten project – growing carrot tops on wet paper towel. Three days into it and they have sprouts! ;)

  8. so i certainly feel the pangs of winter too. But in reading the posts, I have to think about the growth that goes on during this time. It’s hugely rewarding for plants to not have to support big green foliage and feed flowers or produce fruits. They take this time to grow underneath the ground in ways that reward us three fold when spring comes back around. Maybe that thought will warm the heart during this time and let us ponder ways to also “grow our roots”.

  9. You’re right–there is so much to do before spring, even if you are planting in containers. I realized this morning that I am going to miss spring horribly–spring with that gorgeous pale green and all the flowering trees. Atlanta is so beautiful in the spring. The desert is beautiful too–just not at all the same.
    I need to get lots of containers cheaply somehow. I am going to try growing radishes in containers this year.

  10. Deborah I agree but of course all of that seems to go out the window when that impatient for spring feeling hits mid-winter. It’s been particularly cold here too which is only adding to it.

  11. Hands off Michael Pollan, he’s mine girls. (Discovered him a few years ago when I read The Botany of Desire.) If you haven’t done so you must read The Omnivore’s Dilemma – an excellent examination of our food systems. What I love about Michael (as I like to call him) is his open mind and good humour. He doesn’t proseyletize but his inclinations come through very clearly.

Comments are closed.