Planning to Plan

December 16, 2008 at 8:42 am

Brad Moldofsky

As the bitter snow conceals our streets and lawns and the world’s businesses and markets shrink and cower into fetal position, it’s hard to have faith that not only will a warming spring return, but that our economy will climb back up that roller coaster hill.

Few who know me would call me a doe-eyed optimist, but I am sure this will all pass. Those same people know that I constantly second guess, re-evaluate and edit my numerous lists and plans in my quest to gain more control over my world. And that’s where gardening comes in.

This year will be the first in which my family grows vegetables unspontaneously. Typically on a pleasant spring weekend when it feels like the last frost has thawed, we stop by a grocery or hardware store and grab a few seed packets or potted plants that look decent, inter them underground and deal with the results. This has worked out fair to middling so far. The bag of sprouting potatoes and onion bulbs we bought last May at Mukwonago’s Elegant Farmer ultimately grew into a September breakfast my boys still remember fondly. On the other hand, tomato plants we purchased at Jewel/Osco broke our hearts with mealy, scarred red things that only a squirrel could love.

Some plants thrive until our harvest feast and others die as seedlings or get eaten by varmints. I shrug off my failures stoically because they were cheap to acquire and it’s not like we’re gonna starve. With the minimal effort we invest into the garden, it’s no tragedy if we don’t reap a bounty.

This year, however, all that changes. I’m committed to investing the same level of planning into my garden as I do to my professional activities and other aspects of life. Having read many farming essays and books, I’m convinced that a bit more care this winter and spring will give us a greatly improved fall. Of course, if I’m wrong about the garden planning, a bad harvest would be all the more humiliating. I can take it as a personal failing and not just Mother Nature having her way with me again, but I’m headed full speed down this road. The next stop is the library to Dewey Decimal section 635 to further my education.

And if I’m wrong about the economy, well, there’s that much more incentive to grow more of my own food, huh?