The seed catalogs are out! Lyman Wood always called this time of year “psychological spring.” As soon as the lush green catalogs started arriving in the mailbox, gardeners’ imaginations came alive with plans for the new year’s gardens.
Let me set the scene for you. Lyman lived in Charlotte, Vermont, and usually worked at home. January in Vermont, as you probably know, is cold and snowy, with short days and long nights. But he worked mostly at the dining room table surrounded with southeast windows that captured whatever sun chose to appear each day.
Seed catalogs would be spread on the table in front of him. With pencil in hand, he would go through each one marking interesting new choices and old favorites: corn, tomatoes, sweet peas, lettuces, squash, carrots, green beans, spinach, onions. Mentally he savored each one, imagining how the warm spring soil would feel as the seeds were planted, and how wonderful the fresh-picked vegetables would taste in the summer.
But he had much more on his mind than family dinners and barbecues. He also was imagining how the plants would look when photographed with a Troy-Bilt Rototiller or a Garden Way Cart for use in the many Garden Way ads that would run that year. He was getting new ideas for a future Garden Way book or pamphlet about gardening or harvesting techniques, and for the advertising copy that would make them irresistible to buyers. Would this be the year for a new tool or cart or composting device? His mind was as fertile as his garden, always coming up with novel approaches and inventions.
Looking around his homestead today, where his family continues to live, many of his creations and products he promoted continue to be used. The big wheeled Garden Way cart continues to be indispensable for hauling vegetables, leaves, whatever is needed. The old Horse model Troy-Bilt tills the garden each year. Garden Way books line the shelves and are frequently pulled out for reference. The Squeezo Strainer turns the annual tomato harvest into sauce. Less well known items – because they were only briefly marketed – are used frequently, like the “Sizzle Surrey.”
And, many folks continue to seek out and order What A Way To Live: The Lyman P. Wood Story, the very readable book about his business adventures and philosophy of life. Check out our website homefarmgarden.com for information about the book, and enjoy thoughts of spring.
– Nancy Wood, January 24, 2020