Let’s face it, us gardeners, we’re a tribe of special folks who need to stick together. The nongardening world is conspiring against us, and sometimes, the biggest conspirators are those closest to us.

“Don’t you have enough plants?” “But you didn’t get all your bulbs in last year!” “Can’t you just buy that at the grocery store?” Blasphemous! We need more plants! We’ll find ways to use those bulbs even though the ground is frozen!

Our culinary experiences with homegrown foods are so rich and satisfying it is insulting to insinuate the grocery store produce could even compare! Yes, we need to stick together. Welcome to a place full of fellow gardeners who will share encouragement, enthusiasm, trials and tribulations in the soil, and hold no judgement of your green indulgence. This column is a gathering place for the tribe motivated by dirty hands and happy hearts.

We all have our stories of when our green indulgence first began. My initiation into this tribe was innocently enough at 12 years old when I dug up a grass patch at my parent’s townhouse and planted tomato plants. I don’t think I had sweat that much ever before in my short life! And my hands, oh they were a level of dirty I had not yet experienced.

I remember the smell of tomatoes still on my hands long after tucking the tender plants into the ground. Most of all, I recall my mother giving me an incredulous look that I would ruin her lawn, get that dirty and sweaty, and all for something we could buy at a grocery store. Clearly, membership into the gardening tribe is not determined by our heritage.

As for me, my membership was sealed with my love for the soil, the sweat and the smell, and I haven’t looked back since. Each gardening season, I have had boundless hope that my garden will be better next season, I’ve learned something new, and I’ve had the joy of sharing the fruits of my labor with family and friends. I’ve met several kindred souls who share these traits, who delight in endless conversations about their gardens. I’ve also realized there are those who get it, and those who don’t.

I have delighted in the shared company of this tribe of kindred spirits who eagerly await their seed catalogs in winter, enjoy weeding (sometimes) and love the opportunity nature gives us each spring to start something new and more wonderful than the year before.

And so, we have this column, a means to bring our tribe together and grow just like our gardens.

We’ll plan our amazing gardens together in the silent, dark days of winter, counting down the weeks until the Last Frost Date. We’ll enthusiastically jump into the growing season; sharing experiences, local events and spotlighting gardens and gardeners in Deerfield and Cambridge.

We’ll harvest our collective knowledge to answer questions, share past experiences, and learn. We can even let the occasional pest and disease slip into this space!

We’ll talk about what buggers have been spotted in the region, as well as ways to protect your plants from the destructive ones and ways to invite in the beneficial ones.

What’s your story? How did your green indulgence begin? What gardens and gardeners in Deerfield and Cambridge do you admire? What problems have you faced? What obstacles have you overcome? Your stories will be just one of the many seeds that will grow this column as a gathering place for the tribe of dirty hands and happy hearts.

Your green co-conspirator,

The Deerfield Gardener

Last Frost Date Countdown: 20 weeks

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