Spring into Sustainability with Your Cool Weather Crops
Did you feel that sigh?
Equinoxes have always held this energy, this time of reflection and expansion in perception as to exploring hope through accountability. Sometimes, that can feel heavy... but only if hidden opportunities are overlooked. Transcending the inverted cycle of victimhood by discerning Neptunian dreams from fantasies is more easily done when we are grounded. For me, that means gardening! What better way to meditate on balance than removing debris from winter storms, processing all the broken bits into wood chips for muddy garden paths, and turning the compost? As we clear the debris in our outdoor spaces, we also declutter our inner world. Spring cleaning occurs both internally and externally.
With all the weeds pulled, we can stand back and assess our space: what is there room for? What can we dream and imagine this space to contain? What are we inviting in?
When we consider what we want to invite, create, do, and be, we plant seeds. I always start with flowers! Why? Because I want pollinators! Bees, bees, and more bees! Pollinators will frequent the garden, buzzing around, contributing to a rich ecosystem. They'll increase the yield of my crops. They'll also ensure strong, life- filled seeds for harvest and saving in the fall. On a psychological level, as flowers bloom, so do our creations! Who doesn't love cheerful blossoms whose scents are carried on the breeze of warm summer days? The same scents we cherish also happen to be some of the best insect repellents on the planet... organically, sustainably, and naturally. Big blooms of marigolds are but one example. Zinnia attracts beneficial insects that eat the destructive ones. Synergy at its finest! And, for those looking to make extra cash, flowers sell for a higher profit margin than vegetables. Go figure. Last fall, I planted tulips and crocus, Echinacea, and perennial daisies. All are emerging, to the great delight of the bees! When possible, plant heirloom seeds for your annuals so that you can collect the seeds in the fall and replant them the following spring. Cultivating your own seeds will ensure stronger, climate acclimated plants that offer sustainability for years to come! Perennials come back year after year and many have medicinal uses!
So what about food? Spring is the best time to plant dark leafy greens in temperate climates. Plantings in March will utilize spring rains and ensure April harvests! The liver and body wants to detox from all the heavy, rich foods of colder weather. Kale, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, radish, bok choy, Swiss chard, and collard greens offer nutrient dense early food. Pick a few plants from each type and allow them, if they are heirlooms, to go to seed through summer so you can continuously plant crops in seasons to come. Most greens are "cut and come again", meaning you can cut off the tops, leaving 2" above ground. The plant will continue to generate leafy greens until the weather gets too warm. When the weather warms, these cool weather crops will bolt and get tall and leggy as they produce seeds.
Succession planting is a good sustainability technique. Let's say you harvest five radishes. Add a little organic fertilizer (I love Plant Tone), or fish emulsion, compost, and mix the soil where the vegetables had been pulled. Drop in some seeds. As you harvest, you plant as weather allows for your crops, ensuring a continuous supply of fresh, organic food. I keep a diagram and journal of what was planted where, and when. This helps me adjust soil nutrients and rotate crops so that I build my soil, rather than deplete it.
Perennial, or permaculture edibles, that can be planted now include berries (strawberries, etc.), hardy herbs (thyme, oregano, parsley, catnip, etc.), asparagus, and rhubarb. Choose a permanent location, as these plants will establish and spread.
The final tip of the day is that nothing is wasted. Plant-based food scraps, brown paper, and decayed plants are composted. Gray water is dumped into watering cans and used to water flowers and vegetables. If you do use gray water, make sure you use chemical free cosmetics and toiletry items, soaps, and detergents. If you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your body or your plants. Vegan gardeners need to pay close attention to the ingredients in their soaps to ensure completely vegan produce.
When we synch up and align with sustainability internally and externally, we have the potential to heal our bodies and the planet at the same time. Not with force, but with harmony. When we focus on planting the seeds of a harmonious life internally, we cannot help but manifest these dreams externally and invite abundance into our outer world!
Happy spring balancing!