Friday, May 10, 2013

Quick post, because it's raining and I'm not actively grubbing around in the dirt this very second

I've said this before and I will likely say this again (a few hundred times), it's planting season at Pinch Manor. 

This means that basically if I am not sleeping, eating, doing the things that happen surrounding the eating of food, taking care of the chickens or scrubbing half of my yard off my skin, I am either digging, pulling, planting or otherwise engaged in the garden. Unless it rains. A LOT. As in, yesterday evening I stopped planting stuff because the lightning actually came close enough to scare the hubbin and he came out and yelled at me. 

The reason for this seemingly inordinate amount of work is the layout of our garden. Not big enough to use farm equipment (not that we would or could afford to), but big enough that planting one of our 37 defined beds takes about a days worth of time. Hand weeding, broad forking, raking, soil amendment, seeding out or planting seedlings, then in some cases mulching and trying to keep the weeds and pests down continually, and sometimes re-seeding when something flubs. It's the decision we made to trade our time and labour for money we do not spend on motorized tools (does that make my salads handmade and artisan? YOU BET!)

Peas and Garlic a few weeks ago *

That actually sounds like more work than it is, but it definitely is exercise. It's also fun and really incredibly rewarding when you can go into the back yard and pull a ginormous amount of fresh leafy greens and vegetables and chow down on a dinner that was still in the ground a few minutes (hours, tops) ago.

Nothing tastes quite like that.

And frankly, yes, it's a bit of work, but it's being done after the day job is over and by about end of May it's basically going to be a waiting game as things grow and do their thing. Weeding, squishing bugs and occasional watering will be all we have to do between end of May and beginning of August, the time we lovingly call 'benign neglect season', which is a needed recovery period before what is known as "OH DEAR G-D, why is everything ripe all at once", accompanied by frantic cutting and canning and dehydrating and freezing and lacto fermenting and eating things while they are still warm from the sun and generally reveling in the glory that is a productive garden, while at the same time replacing the spent summer crop with the fall plantings for the next round.

It's an incredible feeling as case after case of canning jars are filled with produce grown right here, by us, knowing that we will eat this well into the next year, until the garden produces again. Being able to re-connect to this cycle of nature has been more than a learning experience, it's been a healing journey.

Because 6 years ago I killed mint. Forget about keeping a tomato plant alive. I am now on my 4th generation of one particular variety of tomatoes here, saved seeds and cloned cuttings and all :) And if I can do that, so can you. It helps to remember that plants want to grow and basically know what they are doing, so let them. And now, when I look at a seed, I no longer see an adversary to be conquered, I see a tiny little miracle, all the ingredients for a giant, green, lush plant contained in something the size of a pin head, an ally in our quest to be self-sufficient and healthy.

And on a sadder note: Sorry little strawberry seedlings. I left you out in the rain and most of you drowned. I'll try to do better by your follow-up crew. 

That's another part I finally understood: when something dies in its little plant infancy, that's not a failure or a disaster (unless it was the last bit of seed of one variety and I now have to buy more to start over, that I tread like a majour catastrophy, talk about white whine), not every seed survives in nature to become a plant and reproduce in turn, that's why plants produce hundreds and thousands of seeds every year. One tray of strawberry seedlings didn't make it. I'll seed out another one and go from there. There will be strawberries, even if it's not this year :D

That's all I have for now,
Happy Pinching

*Yes, that's twigs for the peas to climb on (FREE and we can burn it when we're done) and that's a whole mess of dandelions dotting the  grass next to it. No harmful chemicals at Pinch Manor, so we have a colourful yard with wild violets, dandelions, some as yet unidentified white flower that creates a simply stunning white carpet effect for about a week in spring, red, white, purple and pink clover (I'd love to find some blue clover, but alas not yet), and clumps of chives throughout the grass. No green, poisoned and poisonous desert here.

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