raised bed garden
Thursday, January 23, 2020 Mary Paulton

How does your garden grow?

The decorations have been removed and the tree has been recycled as a backyard birdfeeder. The fruit cake is but a memory, and family and friends have returned home to pre-season routines. The hectic celebration that once was has given way to quiet times of reflection. Quieter still is foliage suspended in the frozen ground waiting for the thaw that is the hope of things to come.  There are unexpected surprises that lay dormant—whether planted by the wind, a bird, or the foraging squirrel, that will surprise us with the coming longer days that melt the earth into Spring.

January is the precursor to Spring. If you think it is too early to set your mind to gardening, you may want to reconsider.  If you are short on ideas on what to plant, books are a proven source of help in that decision-making process.  At the Lansing Library, there is an extensive section on Horticulture and Agriculture print as well as our wall of periodicals. In addition to the literature available, the Garden Club, a group of like-minded growers, meets once a month.  At one time or another, you will experience your efforts all ripening at the same time leaving you with more than can be eaten at once. Aside from sharing your bumper crop, there is also canning and drying for future use.  This predates refrigeration methods ensuring there would be food in the off growing season of perishable items. There are recipes to conserve everything from meats to fruits/vegetables that are symbolic of the farmer’s table.  Whether your plot of ground is container deep or measured in acres, there is something you can grow worth preserving.

Cultivation may start in our own back yard, but it may not end there.  The waiting month of January is the time to swap the seeds you saved at season’s end and bloom a community of would-be gardeners. Once planted, ongoing tending with light, nourishment, and a soft touch will promote healthy growth that produces the best yield.  Preserving beneficial practices is challenging work but well worth the effort for years to come.  So, before you dig in, visit the Library to check out a book of your favorite flowers, vegetables, and herbs, or designs of outdoor spaces where you can sit and admire the grandeur day by day. Attend the Garden Club on the lower level of the Library for the experience and expertise shared there.  The start of an abundant season is at hand, and now is the time to look at your yard with a critical eye while it resembles a blank canvas. View it as the nursery it is.  Stop in and fill your palette from the Library’s resources before you sketch your dreamscape.  In the meantime, ask yourself the proverbial question, ‘What do I want for my garden’? If you do not find sustainable satisfaction in the outcome amend your soil accordingly, and welcome splendor to take root today reaping true joy tomorrow.  In the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”.