Despite the fact that we got eight inches of snow last week, it is starting to feel like spring. Maybe it's because the sun is rising higher in the sky each day and setting later and later. There's just some internal clock that is telling me that it is almost time. Or maybe it's because I got my Seed Savers order in the mail and I'm itchy to get started on my starts. Yeah. That could be it.
In my opinion, the New Year is misplaced on our calendars. The dead of winter is not the time that we start thinking about starting over and new beginnings. I feel ever so much more motivated to begin new things, take on new projects, new goals, new aspirations when fledgling leaves are unfurling and the first spikes of grass are pushing up than when everything is still insulated under layers of snow and ice. Bright sunny days do more to infuse me with enthusiasm to accomplish. Under gray January skies, I just want to heat up another rice bag, crawl with it under the numerous voluminous blankets and read another Victorian murder mystery. With a bowl of Sin On a Spoon in my lap.
As the days grow longer and the sunshine feels brighter, I have no difficulty finding the enthusiasm to put new goals and tasks into motion. Forget January 1st resolutions of getting in shape and working out. March is the time I've started doing some fitness training and toning up. It's not hard at all. I keep reminding myself how useful it will be when it is time to hit the garden and the yard. No sore muscles then! Summer time is my Boston Marathon.
I'm pawing through my seed collection. A few packages with seeds from last year and some new one to try for this year. I used to wonder at people who were constantly changing what they planted from year to year when they were so happy with what they'd harvested the previous year. I'm beginning to understand the addiction: so many seeds...so little space. And a comparatively short growing season. I'm hedging my bets this year. Barbara Kingsolver, in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, referred to a type of tomato called Siberian, which is reputed to produce proliferately in, as you guessed, Siberia. My kind of 'mater! There will be a "what I did with my summer vacation" report on how Glastnost is producing.
The air is buzzing with discussion about what we're going to plant this year, what soil amendments we tried last year or plan on trying this year, what deer deterents are in place, and the best methods and places to compost. Sources of locally composted manure are secrets almost as guarded as where the best haunts for mushrooms can be found. Hey, some things are sacred, you know?
Gardeners can be as avid proselytizers as...say...foodie folk. We're always luring in the unsuspecting with suggestions that they "start small" and "read Square Foot Gardening...it's soooo easy." They're so charmingly innocent and have no suspicion of the inner gardening monster that lurks inside, waiting for the opportunity to come out and take over the world.
Yes, gentle Breatharian, I was one of those who "started small." Just a simple 5x5 square foot garden. Unh, huh. In a short three seasons, the garden has grown to a 290 square foot garden. With a greenhouse cover over it. The next door neighbor took one look at it and acerbically dubbed it the "Taj Mahal." Ya think?
The gardening seeds aren't the only seeds of change on my mind. Seeds of all stripe are also back on the menu for the Hobbits, which fires up another motivation...the one that sends me into the kitchen for some more "cooking dangerously." As I thumbed through The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, I remember the feeling I had when I first opened it--the one that Alice must have had, tumbling down the rabbit hole. Little did I know. I came across this recipe after we'd gone gluten free and at the very beginnings of everything free. It feels like being visited by an old friend...like the return of spring.
Chili Seeds inspired by Marjorie Hurt-Jones
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 T olive oil
1 T chili powder
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 T Real Salt
Enough water to cover seeds
In a glass bowl, measure out seeds, salt, and add enough water to cover. Stir to thoroughly dissolve salt. Let soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain seeds completely. Mix with oil and spices. Spread out on baking sheets at a very shallow depth. Dehydrate at 100-115* for 12-24 hours or until completely dry and crispy.
Soaking neutralizes the anti-nutrients that are in seeds, making them more nutritious and more digestible--a very important feature for those with digestive difficulties. While Tool Guy and Dog are enthralled with the crunchy zest of this recipe, Bug and Princess prefer their seeds prepared this way, only plain. It's such an easy recipe that it's no trouble to accommodate all of the palates.
Meanwhile, I'm watching the sun and counting the days until Gardening Begins. It isn't hard to get to the point of becoming a gardening monster. Les Brown said it best, "Everything is a cinch when you do it inch by inch."