The Problem of Plenty

5 Feb

I have never actually seen it, but I hear there is a show called Hoarders, about people who do exactly that. Don’t anyone alert the producers, but I think I may qualify. Fortunately my collection doesn’t take up that much space, really, at least not until you have to find room for the transplants. I hoard seeds. I save seeds, buy seeds, trade seeds, swap seeds, but I always seem to have too many. Too many varieties, too many transplants, and conversely, never enough garden.

Earlier this year I decided it was time to do something about the baby food jars, pill bottles, folded paper towels, paper plates, sandwich baggies, big paper grocery bags and plastic tubs full of seeds. I wanted a card file for my seeds. Do you have any idea how antiquated that system is? It was hard to even find a card file, and when I finally found all of the components for my Dewey decimal of seeds and proudly put it all together, carefully labelled in little individual baggies and envelopes — there wasn’t enough room. I need another card file. And that hasn’t stopped me from getting more seeds. My dad gave me some he’d been sitting on for several years. I ordered a watermelon variety that I wanted, and since I was paying shipping anyway…well, you can figure out what happened. And now, I’ve taken to tacking on my miscellany to other people’s seed orders. A friend recently asked me if I needed anything, and since she was already ordering, I figured I could go ahead and get that last tomato I wanted. Is there a pill for this? Do I need counseling?

But seeds can’t just sit there. What’s the good in that? It’s like collecting stamps and never mailing anything. I want to plant everything, but right now my gardens are just not big enough and somehow they’re still too big to find the time to properly manage. But I can’t fit everything in, so of course I plan on expanding. Seriously, can anyone recommend a 12 step program? I started more seeds this afternoon and now the cellar is fairly busting at the seams with flats of sprouts. My goal this year is to grow more than just what we need and to provide for others, so I should be growing lots of fewer things, probably, not fewer of lots of things. Rationally I understand this. But when faced with a fleet of flats and a stack of seed packets, I immediately begin to bargain with the space. I can plant less of those and make room for these. And I must have this, and this and ooh, this. I have allotted 6 raised beds for curcurbitas in the garden plan this year, a generous amount considering everything else that’s got to be planted. So, how do I fit cucumbers, 5 varieties of summer squash, 6 varieties of winter squash, 2 kinds of pumpkins and some melons into that space? And here is where I admit that these are just the numbers I finally decided I couldn’t do without. This is not something that intercropping alone can fix. I need a Tardis to accomplish a feat of that magnitude. So I find myself making bargains again. I have to promise some seeds they will be second string — I’ll pull them off the bench when the squash bugs decimate the first plantings. Or I’ll plant them next season — they’ll still be viable, and I will love them all the more for having waited, right?

Then there are the things I wait too long to plant, because they take up too much space for too long, and I covet the real estate. So they don’t do well, or don’t happen at all. I will have parsnips this year. Next year I’ll put in some salsify. As much as I love asparagus, I am a little resentful of it, because it’s always there and I could be using that space for something the other 10 months of the year. God help us all when it’s time to plant the rhubarb.

p.s. the seed pack image belongs to 3potato4 — thanks!

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