First Plantings

I read somewhere (in a work that was itself referencing someone else) that one should make an effort to plant something or to preserve something every day of the year.

Should is an interesting word here. In the context I read it, it had to do with working to become independent–not self-sufficient, but self-reliant, partly by growing and preserving food as much as possible. I believe the original context was The Encyclopedia of Country Life (a book I have not yet looked at, let alone read, though I’ve come across numerous references to it); again, the should makes sense.

Whenever I come across a should of this sort, my exposure to Kant rears up its head, and I start thinking over the moral obligation of the activity. Is this should a categorical imperative?

Phrased that way, well, no. It is clearly impossible that all rational beings of any sort, in any sort of circumstances whatsoever, should plant something or preserve something every day of the year.

For a gardener who likes to cook, who is contemplating spring on her very own property for the first time, who loves the byways of history and tradition and life incarnated anew each time she pulls out a recipe book or plants an heirloom seed, who may not believe philosophically in self-sufficiency as a desirable goal but who does strongly feel that increased self-reliance is a good thing …

Well, as a limited moral imperative, yes, I think I can say that I should make an effort to plant or preserve something every day of the year.

I started yesterday with planting. It’s still early in the season here, though, so I did my best to content myself with peppers (Hungarian hot wax); eggplant (Ping Tung, an heirloom, and Fairy Tale, a hybrid); lavender (because I have a large property, and I cannot afford to buy all the lavender I want growing on it); Gilia globeflower, a hardy annual I have never seen but which called to me from the seed catalogues, and which I have decided to start early in the hopes that it might bloom for my sister’s wedding in June; purple tomatillo; and artichokes, because I have always wanted to try growing artichokes, and by starting them early I might, just might, be able to coax them into blooming for me this year. They are not really hardy here, you see.

Today … well, today I may pot up the thyme that has been rooting itself in a jar of water on my kitchen windowsill for the past few months, and which has progressed so far as to put out little white flowers this week.


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