This summer’s garden has been a collaboration with the elements; a hopeful experiment in eating from my land. My friend Ray of Applefield Farm said recently, “Farming is a race and a battle.” If you have never tried to germinate carrots in a hot july drought (covering the area with a 2 x 4 for seven days finally did the job), or poured over google images to identify the insects eating your potatoes and punching tiny holes in every beloved strain of brassica, you may not know how true this is. Farmers are also, my friend John Lee of Allandale Farm said, by nature and necessity, optimists.
I cannot however begin to compare my home garden (albeit ambitious) to the scale and challenge of commercial farming, an endeavor of which I am in awe. That tenacious people exist and labor for sixteen hours a day in oft grueling conditions of the moody northeast in order to put fresh produce on our table is nothing short of a miracle.
Placing little bits of dormant life under the dirt and nurturing them into existence is an endeavor with constant opportunity for reflection; a practical means for meditation. Better still, something incredibly delicious waits at the finish line.
Last summer we wanted to find a place to rent where we could grow stuff. This isn’t easy to find. It has been exactly one year since we moved into this precious space in an 1800s farmhouse perched atop a two acre back yard replete with meadows, running brook, chicken coop, laundry line, wildflowers, berry patches, compost pile, nut trees and a sun soaked garden plot- all in front of acres of conservation land. I vowed to learn everything I could about growing as many varieties of vegetables as possible in an ongoing experiment to see what I am capable of producing. Despite drought, blights and insect infestations, my harvest basket is filled to the brim every time I leave the garden.
Five months have passed in a blur of digging, kneeling, sowing, watering, harvesting, sowing some more, culling recipes, cooking inspired meals, eating and trying not to get too much dirt on my camera.
Gardening work is never finished, caught as it is in an endless loop of shifting life, but it’s clear to me what needs to be done at any given time and I find this clarity comforting. It is also in stark contrast to the more amorphous creative endeavors of writing, music and visual art. The work is a sweet escape from my tendency to worry, gratefully turning down the volume of a chronic heady soundtrack. It grounds me, literally.
This is the 4th vegetable garden I’ve ever undertaken and the largest and sunniest plot to which I’ve ever had access. It’s a 50’x50′ mounded-bed square tended mostly by me with a bit of help when others are able. My tabby cat, bugs, frogs, toads, butterflies, and birds love to keep me company.
This blog celebrates the often challenging, always rewarding journey from tiny seed to family meal. My photography attempts to capture the startling beauty I witness at every turn.