Friday, April 28, 2017

The Growing Things

There's no denying that the animal side of our homestead is getting the most air time here on the blog, which is understandable as animal husbandry is a new challenge for me.  I might give myself the impression that I'm not as in tune with all the growing green things around me, which isn't true at all.  I've been immersing myself in the growth as often as I can, and while I didn't brag as much about the pear blossoms this year, the pear tree still holds center stage.  The small fruit trees that I planted during the early house renovation years are finally starting to demand some notice too.  Even the volunteer trees in the corners of the farm that I've defended from Brandon's mower have suddenly become so substantial that they no longer need little flags and stakes to define them in the eyes of the mower man.  They are trees all on their own!    

The rhubarb that Tamara and I planted way back when is no longer in danger of being overshadowed by grass and weeds.  It too can hold it's own.  And the asparagus bed actually made a harvest this year too.  

The perennial flower beds will only get better with time, I think, but even now, after four years of mowing the grass and slowing pecking away at trash piles and weedy patches, things are starting to look more established, and less wild, at least in vicinity of the house and barns.  Bits of sculpture are finding homes too.  Can you see the boy in the tree?    

I think of the greenhouse as one of my beasts.  I check on it every morning, water it, vent it, putz around in it, and then do the same thing again in the evening.  I'm learning it's temperament and figuring out how I like to work with it.  Seed starting has been more challenging than I expected.  I used to do pretty well starting seeds in a south facing window in our old garage, so I expected that experience to prepare me for the greenhouse.  But, the temperature and moisture is so different, I feel like a complete novice again, and I've had more failed attempts than I thought I would.    

But, some success too.  I've managed to get some herb plants and some tomatoes.  I finally planted the Rutgers tomato seeds that we ordered in hopes to grow enough tomatoes for my brother-in-law to can.  I ended up putting three or four inches of wet potting soil in plastic salad boxes and putting the seeds directly in the soil, with no lids.  I think I figured out that the lids were holding too much heat and moisture, which caused some of my damping off problems.  The greenhouse plastic is sort of like the lid, I guess, since the air inside will fog my glasses when I come in the door.  Without daily monitoring, things can overheat and dry out fast.  

  Look, lettuce!

  My parents helped me plant a small row of kale, lettuce, chard, and beets, directly in the ground inside the greenhouse.  So many sprouted that I have begun to transplant them outside.  

Baby kale.

The garden still baffles guests with it's borders of long grass.  Brandon claims that he can't really see the garden because the grass is distracting.  Of course, he also keeps offering to weed-eat inside the greenhouse since my "living mulch" (a.k.a weeds) drive him crazy too.   I'm not opposed to switching from grass lined terraces to something made of wood or stone, but until I find the time and materials, I'm happy to let the shaggy grass rows between the long beds hold back the organic matter that I've piled on the beds.  Believe it or not, there are garlic, onion, peas, kale, and blackberry beds growing in there.  

Someone recently asked me why there's a chair in the garden.  To sit on, of course!  Especially after hoeing like a mad woman, I need to flop down and take a break.  Or I just want to sit and admire my garlic while I have a tasty beverage.  The chair is an important part of my garden!  

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