Working in the garden growing vegetables is a grounding experience.  The hands move soil and the smell of mints and sages knock you back into the earth.  Thinking like a plant, you follow the sun, and work within the limits of your unique climate and geography.  Pulling a carrot or cutting some chard after many quiet hours of labor is an exercise in thankfulness.

One of my favorite garden crops is a group of cruciferous vegetables known by many different common names.  It encompasses coleslaw and sauerkraut, fresh tossed kale salad and creamy cauliflower soups.

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There is always some uncertainty in growing vegetables.  When do you put seeds in the ground?  Is there going to be a heat wave?  What happens if snails attack?!

The bulb onion lives for around two years; it is are called a biennial.  We harvest them when the bulb is big and then sliced them up.  Depending upon our skill and luck as a gardener, our plans can succeed, or not.

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Plants live a balanced life with varying strategies for survival.  There are mechanisms for coping with conditions that are not suitable for growing leaves:

Too cold?  Go dormant!  Rest until the sun returns!  Go alpine!  Get low low low!

The cherry tree cultivar ‘Akebono’ has massive blooms in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in March and April.  It is known as a flowering cherry.  But the cherries we eat do not grow around these parts.  Gotta go somewhere with a warmer summer.  June, July, August – at the road side farmer’s market!

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The sun and heat make fruits fill with sugars.  In my dreams I see bright fields of winding green leaves and snaking tendrils, watermelons and honeydews ripening on the ground.

The opposite is also true for other types of fruit trees.  They need the cold, the chill, and the frost to make the jump into spring.  A period of winter rest says, “Okay, it’s safe now, send out flowers, bees are coming for a visit.”  Imagine that you put out buds and shoots before it’s time, and a cold snap comes and kput!  Kills all the young growth.  Oh well, better luck next year!

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There are zone maps to help gardeners determine when and where to grow what plant.  These maps take many factors into account:  how cold it gets in winter, drying winds that blow out to sea, valley sinks of cold air, creeping low fog, dripping wet heat, and so on.  Apply existing knowledge, but do not be afraid to experiment, that is part of the fun.  Find your window of opportunity to put seeds into the ground and smile with flowers.   Where is the best spot for the maiden hair fern?  In other words, how do I best mimic its natural habitat – the shade and protection of oak trees, a meandering creek, and wet soils?

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Say hello to the sun, receive the blessings of pure light.  Catch!

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