I am ready to get growing again, although this winter hasn’t really stopped much of anything from growing, just slowed things a bit.  At my place all but the most tender of vegetation seemed to get a “second-wind” on the first mild day after a cold-snap, and give-up a bloom or sprig of green.  Writing about Mardi Gras yesterday made me consult my datebook, thinking for sure garden time wasn’t far off, and as I thought,  I had most of my seedlings and/or seeds in the ground the first week of last March.  That is just over five weeks away.  We just steamed the last of the broccoli a few days ago, the stalks still stand and are bearing mini-florets on the side stems even today, despite being bitten by a hard freeze.  Three spinach plants are hangin’ in there too.  This is some hearty stuff.  Over the last several years I’ve posted pics of my little plot on the Facebook page, and there has been some interest in watching its progress over the season.  Pretty cool, and I’ll do that again this year when all is in the ground and on the way to becoming groceries!  I try to mix it up each year, but my go-to veggies will be tomato, (a couple different varieties, to keep it interesting, but always the gold-standard sammich-maker Beefsteak) bell peppers, banana peppers, some kind of hot pepper (you can find more different types than there are breakfast cereals, so I have fun with it), cucumbers, kale, okra, eggplant and good old Blue Lake green beans.  Gotta have summer squash, if I can whip those confounded vine borers.  Evil creatures they are.   We’ll pretty much eat anything that grows, and I try to grow enough so there’s plenty to go around.  It’s one of the reasons you grow a little suburban garden in the first place, so you can share.  I like that aspect of it, the way I enjoy cooking a big meal, and when something fresh-picked from the backyard is on the menu, that’s pretty satisfying.  True that the home-grown taste is the best.  Different depending on the soil of origin and the nutrients in it.  My onions or watermelon could taste different from the ones the guy down the street grew, certainly different than those from another county or state.  Sample the local produce when you travel and with a discerning enough palate, you’ll taste it.  Shop our farmer’s markets.  We’ve got some gardeners on the staff here, and sometimes we compare notes and share tips as well as the fruits of our labor.  I’ve had something in the ground since the time I learned to fish, and that was soon after I began to walk.  But no expert do I profess to be.  You can read all the books and blogs, buy all the soil-enhancers and organic insecticides and tirelessly weed until your knuckles are raw, but Nature will have the final say regardless.  I guess that’s why my approach is just to get everything started, give it some T.L.C. and hope for the best.  Don’t stress about it.  The hours I spend lovingly tending to my little green-space are among my favorite times, providing a really unique kind of relaxation.  Genuine.  Without thought.  Organic at some level. That to me is a bigger prize than a massive Blue-Ribbon winning cantaloupe.   Keep Rockin & Happy gardening!

-Bobby Cook