Saturday, March 8, 2014

Extra Hours

I am the typical winter gardener: devour garden books, order seeds, sketch out [un]realistic garden plans. One entire shelf on our bookshelf is garden books, most of which I re-read each year - at least parts of them. This year, I have a new favorite, The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook, by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman. The first half is how-to garden basics, the second half, how to cook what you grow. Lots of yummy photos of recipes I look forward to cooking. Remember that post I wrote about eating a daily rainbow? Lots of colorful ideas toward that in this book.

This weekend we switch to Daylight Saving Time (did you know it is Daylight Saving not Daylight Savings? I didn't).

Did you know a big impetus behind it was lobbied by gardeners? In March of 1918, during World War I and facing shortages of food, the National War Garden Commission worked to extend the clocks ahead every spring to allow for more food production in home gardens, as it gave gardeners an extra hour of sunlight when they got home from work. "In materials published after the war, the commission proudly stressed how effective that extra hour of light during the gardening season had been. By multiplying all those extra hours over the course of a year by the number of war gardeners (more than five million by their estimate), they came up with the stupendous total of 900 million hours of gardening gained every year thanks to daylight saving time." The Four Season Gardener's Cookbook, Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman. The Victory Gardens of World War II were even more successful, estimated at 20 million gardens planted.
"So, if you set aside a small plot of your land [or patio or balcony] and spend an hour at the end of those long summer days growing food, you can feel a kinship with the many patriotic gardeners of years past."
                                                                                  - Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman

There is a lot of debate as to the value of Daylight Saving Time. Many do not like the upheaval it creates in schedules: farmers, the travel industry, equipment with scheduled operations, and many others experience complications and confusion.

For the home gardener, it is a blessing. More time to work outside creating and enjoying the process of a productive, beautiful garden. We do not have the shortages of wartime, but producing our own food is an important skill to have, for health reasons, especially.

It is too early to plant outside here and in many other parts of the country. We had a low of seven degrees a couple nights ago, and snow yesterday. In a couple of weeks I can start seedlings in the basement under fluorescent lights, and a few weeks after that, plant frost tolerant seeds outside.

For now, those longer evening hours of sunlight will be for yard clean-up and walks with the dogs. Come the baking hot days of summer, in those extra late evening hours, it will be a relief to work outside in the garden, in the cooler air and the peach golden sunset glow.
(photos from last year's garden)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the history on daylight saving time - - I like knowing it has patriotic roots :) Last year all we tried to grow were a few tomato plants and they did poorly. You've almost convinced me to try again. Almost. We'll see :)