Thursday, July 10, 2014

In the Garden

"What have you been doing for the last 3 months?" my wife asks me.  "You haven't posted in forever." 

"I just haven't been inspired to write" I reply.  And it's true. To be even a halfway decent writer you have to be inspired. The words should flow through your fingers. And although we've had some good meals out, the food scene as of late just hasn't moved me to open up the laptop and start typing away. 

It's also true that our CSA share from Greensgrow is in full swing now, meaning that we are cooking at home with all those beautiful fruits and vegetables. 

It's also also true that we are now the proud caretakers of a community garden plot in Liberty Lands park, just steps from our front door. So on top of all our CSA veggies, we are now starting to harvest our own cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapeños , long hots, eggplants, basil, and watermelons. That's a lot of produce.

So maybe it's not that I haven't been inspired, it's that the inspiration is coming from a different source these days.  Spare time is spent tending the garden.  Weeding, watering, training tomato vines, curtailing watermelon runners before they take over the whole plot.  Meeting other gardeners, seeing what they are growing, picking up tips on pruning a raspberry bush or getting a good pesto recipe.  There's also volunteer hours spent in Liberty Lands itself - part of the arrangement for getting a spot in the community garden. 

If it sounds like a lot of work, it is. But it's incredibly rewarding when you harvest your tomatoes for that first panzanella salad of the summer. A quick walk over to the garden and we've got fresh cut flowers for the house or jalapenos for some homemade Pad Thai. Speaking for myself, gardening is also amazingly relaxing.  Mindlessly pulling weeds on a warm summer evening is as good as meditation for me. Brings me back to hours spent in the backyard with my mother. I always wanted to help. She would let me pick what we grew that summer and I remember bursting with excitement for those three ears of corn we harvested. I'm sure she was rolling her eyes when her 7 year old son decided we'd grow corn, but she'd always go along with it.  Children and gardens teach you patience, I suppose.   

This thing you've created and crafted.  Cared for and nurtured.  Sweating and sometimes bleeding.  There is a certain amount of pride in bringing it to fruition and seeing that first watermelon start to take shape.  It is also humbling and exceedingly frustrating when you do everything right and the eggplants don't get taller than 7".  Maybe they need more sun.  Will have to remember that for next year.  Curious onlookers passing through the park, stopping to say hello and complimenting us on the garden is lovely though.  Such a bucolic setting with the birds chirping and the smells of mint and lavender swirling in the air as we brush by it underfoot. 

These are a few shots of the garden from early July.  Tomato plants are huge now and we've had to start tying them to the fence to keep them vertical.  The first red ones just starting to appear.  The watermelon plant is doing it's best to conquer every other living thing.  I swear to god it grows a foot per day.  We keep scolding it and turning the runners back on itself.  Almost time to harvest the basil and make a batch of pesto.  The jalapeños are coming in the dozens. We'll be pickling those for use at a later date.  We get a cucumber every couple days and they have been delicious.  The "mulch" on the ground is Salt Hay.  It dates back to colonial times and is harvested from sea marsh grasses close to the shore.  Since there's no seeds in it, it makes perfect bedding material as it won't sprout anything.  It doesn't break down very quickly, is 100% organic and is locally sourced.  Score.

What an amazing experience it's been so far - and we've only been at it for a few months now. We'll try to check back in on the garden every month or so and see what's in season.  Maybe some recipes from what we grow. Maybe even some gardening tips. Enjoy the summer while it lasts.  It'll be time for planting broccoli and kale before you know it.

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