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Summer in the garden

One of my favorite parts of summer in Vermont is being in the garden. It’s an experience that occupies all of the senses — the snap peas and blueberries that you graze on taste sweet, you see the many different shades of green in the leaves of different vegetables, you feel the texture of those leaves as you search through them (sometimes nice, sometimes prickly), you hear the grass rustling and the birds singing, and my hands still smell like the basil that I picked this morning. For me, the best part of being in the garden is that it feels so full of life — after a long Vermont winter, summer is very much a celebration of things green and growing and nowhere is that celebration stronger than in the garden.

Now for my sheepish admission: I don’t actually have my own garden. I satisfy my garden cravings in the gardens of our housemates’ and my uncle. Next year, we’ll be living in our own house and there is space for us to have our own garden, which I’m looking forward to. Although summer is the time when the garden really shines, it begins in the cold months of mid-winter, curled up in the evening with seed catalogs and a rough sketch of how much space we have in our garden beds. Then planting seeds in trays indoors while it is still cold, transplanting them into the garden, covering them during the frosty nights of April (assuming we don’t have a late winter again next year), and lots and lots of weeding. In Vermont, at 43 degrees north of the equator, you take creative ways to get around the shorter growing season: start seeds indoors in March, grow some things in a cold frame (sort of a miniature greenhouse), and select veggie varieties that are hardier and more cold-tolerant. They may not be exactly like their relatives that you may be used to seeing in the grocery store, but those relatives are from warmer climes like California, Florida, and in winter, the Southern Hemisphere.

Why would you put all of that work into growing food? There are a lot of reasons, but it really boils down to two things: one, the food tastes so much better, and two, I love the green growing living garden in the summer. I’m not really a back-to-the-earth sort, but in Vermont summer, it’s hard NOT to feel the life all around you in the garden in summer.

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