February 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
Over the past three or four years we’ve had a garden. It’s been off and on, we’ve cared for it in varying degrees depending on what’s going on at the moment (it was really neglected when kids were just born), and its productivity has been hit and miss. Last summer we had so much okra we couldn’t give it away fast enough. The same summer we couldn’t get a single tomato to survive blight, aphids, cut worms, etc. It was very discouraging at the time.
Losing a whole crop is pretty annoying (If I were a real farmer it wouldn’t be just annoying, I know) but it doesn’t take away one of the true pleasures I take in having a garden: just watching it grow. The life cycles of plants fascinate me. They start as seeds so tiny they will slip through your fingers if you aren’t careful. Then they shoot up as tender little things, bright green, and so fresh. They develop leaves and then hopefully some fruit. They change in size, structure, texture…everything. Except at the end, when you open the fruit or the plant is about to die, you can find a seed, just like the one you planted.
Every time we start a new batch of seeds, and every time they sprout, I feel so hopeful. I’m hopeful that we will get the “fruit”, yes, but there is another kind of hope that is not dependent on whether or not the plants “work”. I’m hopeful in the one who has the power to make things grow. The seasons of death will always give way to new growth. I find it so reassuring.
February 5, 2011 § 7 Comments
Today we had a garden work day. It consisted of pulling weeds (which the chickens like to pick through after we’re done ), digging new rows, pulling up roots, sifting the potash from the fire pit (it’s good for our heavy clay soil), cleaning out the old wood shavings from the chicken coop, giving them some fresh shavings (thank you Uncle David!), lots of turning over the soil (my back!) and even a bit of planting. We put potatoes, butternut squash, and more broccoli into the ground. It feels good.
Florida’s weather lets us plant through the winter. In my opinion, winter is the best time to garden here, unless there’s a freeze. In the winter, the bugs are virtually gone and there’s very little disease. The warmer the weather, the worse those two things get.
In the summer, you have to really do battle with the bugs. I mean, really. If you left the garden to itself, the bugs would devour everything. We’ve seen green beans completely covered with aphids. You couldn’t even see the bean. It felt like a plague of aphids. Sometimes you can beat them, and sometimes you can’t.
We have learned a lot over a few years of this, but I still feel like we have no idea what we are doing and it’s always amazing to me when I can bring things in from the garden to actually eat! There are just so many things that can go wrong in our climate (maybe in everyone’s), so there is this very real feeling that you are eating something extremely precious. I like remembering that.
I love these type of days: we don’t have anywhere to go, we’re all home, and we do projects together (some of us are in and out of “working” but that’s ok). I love watching Vince teach Aiden how to swing an axe and then watching her swing it over and over and over, until the root finally gives and Vince can pull it out. I get to see June make a “cake” out of the dirt with a skinny, dug up sweet potato for the candle, giggling the whole time. It’s all so precious. This kind of day is a good reminder.
February 4, 2011 § 2 Comments
I know I get excited about things that most of my acquaintance could care less about, but still…Is chard not glorious? Look at the color on those stems! True artwork. After picking this stuff out of the garden the other day (I love that I get to do that!) I just needed to stop and have a chard appreciation post.
If you are still reading after THAT intro… here is a little information I dug up on the lovely Swiss Chard:
- It’s not Swiss at all, but Mediterranean in Origin
- It’s in the Chenopod (flowering plant) family, sibling to beets, spinach, and quinoa.
- One cup of cooked chard has over 700% of your daily recommended amount of bone-building Vitamin K. (So, having a dinner with this makes up for non-vegetable nights like, pizza night, nacho night, cereal night, hot chocolate night, etc.)
- It’s an excellent source of Vitamin A (supposed to be good for your eyes)
- Chard has great anti-inflammatory properties (chronic low-level inflammation in the body increases risk of atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and forms of arthritis… none of which I’m interested in, thank you very much.)
So, as you can see, our girl chardy has both inner and outer beauty!
My youngest daughter and I just planted 30, or so, more seedlings, so I’m sure there will be more cooking with chard to come. I can almost hear the complaining now, but I’m going to be strong in the face of adversity, people. Don’t worry.