When I last reported on the garden, we had just gotten a truckload of wood chips and it had been too cool to plant summer veggies.
There have been a few changes since then.
This is my first year having a spring garden so I wasn’t entirely sure how to properly transition to the summer one. Honestly, I think that uncertainty of how to approach transtion is why I avoided it for so long. I finally just went with sticking summer veggies in around the spring plants, hoping for a peaceful co-existence until it was time to pull the cooler weather plants, taking my own gardening advice. The resulting garden is slightly messy, although I find it has a certain charm to it. We’ll see how it shakes out as the season progresses.
Pat and Edie have been making stepping stones for the pathways and with the mulch in place, I can finally fulfill my vision of having a container herb garden scattered among the beds without having to move a billion things so the paths can get mowed. It feels like a whole new garden.
As for the spring garden harvest, there were mixed results. The peas were a success and the fava beans are still coming in – I’m not sure excessive blooms results in loads of beans but I probably should read up on growing them. All but one head of broccoli didn’t bolt immediately while only one cauliflower plant produced anything. It started bolting before I thought it was big enough to pick, so it didn’t look like any cauliflower head I’d ever seen, but hey, I grew that. It ended up quite edible in a Thai massaman curry for dinner.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the garden, I’ve discovered that in addition to arugula weeds, I also grow turnip green weeds. No, not turnips, just the greens, that apparently keep reseeding themselves. Upside: I always have greens to eat in my garden.
It has been a banner year for the cherry tree. Despite watching a flock of cedar waxwings and other birds feast mightly on our tree, for the first year ever, we picked ripe cherries! We picked I don’t even know how many pounds – there were cherries eaten straight off the tree, cherries turned into jam, pickled (duh), one pie was made while another got popped into the freezer and there was a batch of homemade maraschino cherries attempted. It was slightly glorious. As the last big pink blooming tree in the yard faded, the cherry tree became the main attraction for neighbors walking by for a few weeks, what with all the birdwatching to be done, the fact that there were real honest-to-god cherries – even Betsy beagle spent hours watching what we dubbed “Cherry Tree TV”. For the first time since early March, we are now without a show stopping tree in the front yard – from the tulip magnolia to the dogwood to the red horse-chestnut to the cherry. I’d say that’s a pretty good run.
Elsewhere, the blueberries are starting to ripen, protected from the birds by bridal tulle – I saw where a friend used this method on her tomato cages and I’m considering trying that to protect my tomatoes from the squirrels and deer this year. So far the deer have only eaten my peas and patchouli plant, but that doesn’t mean I want them to think the garden will continue to be a buffet for them. They’ve gotten awfully bold once again, coming within a few feet of Betsy beagle while she loses her everloving mind at them. I’m trying blood meal, which came recommended, to see if that staves them off.
As for the rest of the garden, it is, as ever, evolving. The patch I’ve spent the last few years trying to eradicate of garlic chives is almost rid of them – and I’ve started working in some newer plants to take over. Bee balm, yarrow, joe pye weed, things that pollinators like. Nearby there are my zinnias and cosmos, while scattered about the yard are pots full of flowers and herbs I’m attempting to start from seed. I also have added a new statue:
He came with a property I sold recently, but sadly, he didn’t quite fit the aesthetic of the new owners. I brought him home and plopped him into the nearest garden bed, because a waist high concrete garden statue is not something you drag around the yard lightly. I have dubbed him Sebastian and I think he seems at home among my potted plants and pink flamingos. I of course looked up Saint Sebastian (the catholic, it’s in my DNA) and while he not the patron saint of neglected gardens but rather the patron saint of athletes (particularly archers), he is considered a saint with special ability to intercede to protect from plagues AND his feast day is January 20, the day between my two most very favorite peoples birthdays, so Sebastian it is.
It seems slightly frivolous to sit here and write so much about my garden when the world around us is in so much turmoil. There is far more important work to be done, words to be read. Being in my garden is where I go when I need to process things – I dig, plant, weed, harvest, rip out, rearrange what’s growing in the earth as well as my mind. It’s what grounds me. I have never been comfortable telling people how or what I’m going to improve about myself until I’m further along in my process and I’m certainly not going to start now. This doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything nor does it mean I’m not sitting with any discomfort. It just means I don’t think I can add anything of value to particular conversations right now, that I’m better listening, then pondering what I heard while I go dig or plant or harvest. Which is really sort of the same approach I have in my garden- I always claim I aspire to the be gardener I write about being, which can be applied to a myriad of subjects, including, being a better, more inclusive, anti-racist human being. I just happen to be better about writing about gardening than anything else at the current moment.
(There are a number of reading lists out there if you are wondering about how to approach learning more about dismantling racism in this country. But if you’re wondering what you should be reading on the subject, this week’s New York Times Bestsellers list might be a good place to start.Or google it.)