30 November, 2008

December Equals Despair for Gardeners

A Gardeners DecemberBy Greg Draiss

The turkey is gone or at least down to the last little bits of dark meat hiding somewhere in the refrigerator. Hopefully there is some stuffing left. Stuffing is to me the best part of the Thanksgiving feast. My second favorite part of the holiday is the obligatory nap on the couch regardless of who is sitting there. I rarely take a nap except for Thanksgiving day afternoon. Things like this just do not happen in my household. Dad take a nap? Perish the thought! There are newspapers articles to write, footballs to be tossed, photographs to be taken and dishes to wash.

I do not do dishes on Thanksgiving. Never have and unless my wife reads this article never will.I do dishes almost every night the rest of the year. Well at least every day that ends in “q”. But dishes aside a nap on the couch awakens me to that wonderful stuffing. Yes the bird was wonderful as well the yams, pies, storytelling and the lousy football game on TV. Those poor people sitting in a stadium watching their home team get trounced when they could have been at home with turkey and stuffing. I hope the vendors perusing the stands offered up at least a turkey hot dog to the kids.

But why you might ask do I refer back to the stuffing? I hope after all the inference to the great stuffing it did not end up coming out of a box. Simply put stuffing is the quintessential Thanks- giving food. There are more flavors and subtle nuances in stuffing than the rest of the meal put together. The secret is in the spices and herbs mixed with the bread crumbs and whatever else goes into stuffing. Don’t ask me how to make stuffing I have not a clue. I do know that the wonderful aroma of stuffing, the tongue teasing tastes all combine for a completely satisfying taste.

To me stuffing represents the essence of the holiday. All of us gathered together in mixed families representing the generations passing of the torch to the next. A perfect blend of seasoning, textures and tastes all mixed (or stuffed) together to celebrate the bountiful harvest of the past year. Many of the flavorful herbs in stuffing can be easily grown and harvested in our own gardens. Dried thyme, rosemary, oregano and savory from the back yard taste better than those from a box.

Which brings me to December. December is the month for giving. December is not really a month for gardening in these parts. December is in fact about the only month devoid of real outdoor gardening activities. Let’s face it the lawn is too frozen to mow even if it needs it like mine. The compost piles freeze up like a gas tank full of water and the ground too hard to plant a small crocus bulb. Even orchards must wait until January or February before they get their winter pruning.

So what is there for the gardener to do in December? Give. Give a thought as to what the new garden year will bring you. Seed catalogs in the January mail? Seminars, lectures and garden shows throughout the entire winter perhaps.

Give your favorite gardener a hug! There is no place else a gardener would rather be than to be outside in the garden. And since there is nothing to do in the garden in December gardeners get kind of down. While we do cover it up well by singing Christmas carols, decorating with lights and wrapping boxes in colorful paper, we would really rather be outside playing in the dirt. Or defending our lawns from bugs and thugs whether two legged, four legged or six legged, from invading our personal space.

It is a depressing time of year for gardeners. Some of the seasonal afflictions I suffer from in December are as follows: LOFT: Lack of Fresh Tomatoes.WARF: Where Are the Real Flowers?CHILLY: Cold Hands (and other extremities) In Lieu of Luminous Yummy chile peppers.And finally CROP: Cardboard like Really Obnoxious Pretenders. (Offerings of veggies in winter compared to fresh in season selections).

So what to do? Gather up some tropical plants for your home, huddle next to them in your favorite chair under a grow light, take a nap and dream of stuffing!

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