The Starving Time

bud, Guntersville State Park, Liquidambar styraciflua, seed head, Sweet Gum

This morning I planted my spring crops in the rain.  My husband joked, “so we’re going to have radishes tomorrow, right?”  Not quite.

Those long weeks in between the arrival of planting season and the harvest of the first crops is called the starving time by some Appalachians.  With fall’s preserved harvest running out and new crops still maturing, food could become bland and scarce.  Many spring wild plants (aka “weeds”) are very nutritious, but lack calories.  Their sharp taste helped awaken taste buds dulled by weeks of eating the last of the salted meat and corn meal.

Few people today in wealthier countries ever think about running out of food seasonally; with international shipping and modern food storage methods, virtually any fresh food can be found any time of the year.  But avid gardeners still know the feeling of pining away for their own fresh crops while carefully tending to the seeds and seedlings of tomorrow’s meals.

Here’s looking forward to a bountiful growing year!