A Few Garden Thoughts, July

  • There is too much to do. So do what you see how to do. As you work, you’ll see how to do other things.
  • You’re working with roots, not leaves. The leaves are what’s stressful, they’re what you see, but they aren’t the real matter: push them aside and follow the stem, and where it touches the ground, feel around, grab the other stems rising up from the same point and pull, gently, until they come free roots and all. 
  • There is no wasted effort. If you are getting in the car to go run errands, but see a young weed without deep roots right there in arms reach and you have the few seconds it takes, reach down and pull it out. Things are now better than they were.
  • There’s a lot of stuff “to do” but mostly you just need to let things be. Water. Sun. Composted manure. Some basic maintenance to keep the bad actors away. That and time is all the garden needs. So help out and then let it be.
  • The Beav likes potatoes. I tried three sorts. But I didn’t hill them in time and they laid down. This doesn’t seem to bother them. I haven’t weeded enough and the grass is thick between the plants. This also doesn’t seem to bother them. Potato bugs have descended and I’ve tried to pull them off, have caught a lot of them in the first wave as they were mating, but I think I’ve lost this battle. They are going to be thick on the plants for the rest of summer whatever I do. (Because I won’t do chemical pesticide.) But this is okay. I’ve now seen how potatoes work and they are working fine this year despite the grass and bugs — they are tall and densely colored. When I plant next year’s potatoes next year, because I’ll plant them again, I’ll know better what to watch out for. So this year has been more than worthwhile.

Cross Post: This Year’s Garden

A new post at Speaks at Home.

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Early Wednesday, May 20, I got up and dropped off my bike at the shop to be serviced for the summer. Afterwards, I made our grocery run and then stopped by Rona to buy the basics for the garden. I hadn’t planned on planting everything that day and certainly didn’t plan on putting everything in all in one go. But once I had the seedlings, I didn’t see any reason to wait.

Five hours later, I was done, exhausted and watering. (And the next day, I could barely move I was so sore from all the squatting and standing and squatting and standing.)

So that I have some notes for later, this is this year’s garden.

Tomatoes

Big Beef

The same variety I’ve planted the past few summers. Thirty plants are arranged in four rows in the space behind the potatoes. I over planted in case I lost plants again this year but also because I’m thinking about canning rather than freezing the tomatoes we don’t eat.

We ate the last of the the frozen tomatoes from last year around the same time that I planted the garden.

Asparagus

  • Jersey Giant
  • Mary Washington

Planted in four short rows arranged in an L-shape behind the rhubarb.

Potatoes

  • Warba (early)
  • Kennebec (mid-season)
  • Russian Blue (late)

Planted in two rows along the long south side of the garden. The early season are planted in both rows close to the road. The mid-season are planted in the middle. The late season are planted at the west end of the rows.

Garlic

Planted in two short rows along the west side of the garden running from the rhubarb to the front.

A Solitary Eggplant

It’s not hot enough long enough to really grow eggplant here, but we love eggplant and managed to get eight off of one plant last year. I lost the ticket identifying the variety but this plant — if it bears anything — will bear a long skinny fruit with some write mottling on the skin when ripe. I planted it in the corner where the potatoes meet the garlic.

Improbable Fruit

Last year when my Mom visited for Thanksgiving—Canadian Thanksgiving, in October, not the American holiday in November—we decorated my newly rebuilt porch with strange pumpkins and squash. I fetched a birch log from the wood pile, and we had a holiday arrangement that looked good enough to keep around for weeks rather than days.

After the first freeze though, everything sagged. So I went out, collected the soft fruit and tossed everything in the garden. Winter came. Then this spring, I went out to turn the soil and everything had broken apart and come to pieces. I saw seeds, but ignored them. They sprouted though, and I’ve kept them all, pushing them back off the peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and rhubarb, but otherwise giving them free rein to do what they’d like.

So now I have acorn squash, regular pumpkins, white pumpkins, very strangely shaped and bright red pumpkins. I have acorn squash, some kind of yellow squash I don’t recognize. Maybe more even. And they are growing everywhere, even on the fences, producing improbable fruit and it’s exciting and encouraging.

There’s wisdom in leaving things alone, letting them be.

A Watered Garden

Water on Cauliflower

The weeds in the garden have been growing, and after several days of hot sun, the tomatoes, cabbages and all the rest need a drink. So after mowing the grass, I pull out the young thistles and the worst of the clover and then hose everything down.

The shower spilling from the nozzle cools the air and coaxes a rainbow from hiding. A river feeds the spigot. Bright beads of water skip and race across waxy cauliflower leaves. I dip my hand in the pattering spray, wipe the back of my neck. Beneath it all, the cracked ground laps up its muddy brew.

The sensible beauty of this moment is astonishing.