As I have been meeting and talking with our new (and returning) volunteer families, the multitude of garden ideas, dreams and potential is exciting and contagious.

We stand and look out at our garden plots with eager anticipation of the season that is nipping at our daffodil lined heels. Some garden sites are grassy lawns, never planted in edibles– why not grow food instead of lawns? Some plots are littered with remnants of last years crops. Some were forgotten after the last fall crop was harvested and are covered in weeds and failed good intentions. There are ancient raised beds ready to be back in action. Some are hay-mulched raised beds that are ready and waiting.


We take soil samples knowing that we have depleted the nutrients in the soil last year. For plots not gardened before or in ages–will the soil be better or worse for it? The test is an invaluable way to get back in the garden and think about the initial steps to create healthy soil. What can we do to add back to make sure our plants will be strong and healthy this year? Talk to the neighbors with horses. Pick up that truck load of manure.

We thumb through catalogues looking at beautiful photos of plants and seeds that look so exotic or extraordinary we can’t believe it could grow in our own yard and feed our humble bodies. Fish out the previous year’s seeds from the freezer and grab the planting calendar to make a plan– spring, summer, fall. “Where will the tomatoes go this year? WIll I start my own seeds finally or buy plants from the local produce stand? Don’t forget the basil and the marigolds to companion plant. Will I do that cover crop spring/summer to add nitrogen to the soil, turn under, and plant something yummy for the fall? What new crop should I try?”

February is a time that some feel anxiety when thinking of the many things they could or should do to prepare. Some feel the great endless horizon that is understanding the garden: “there is so much to know, and I forgot to read all those gardening books again this winter.” Underlying these feelings is the immense excitement of knowing that anyone can grow their own food with basic knowledge. You don’t have to try all 50 new garden ideas, but pick a few and go with it. Ambition and enthusiasm go a long way in a garden. Our gardens have many lessons to teach and forgiveness to lend. Plant the seed, wait, nurture, protect, encourage, harvest, share, and eat. Once you start, you, too, will learn and grow.