Saturday, June 8, 2013

Gardening in a swamp

When I think about this year, I am reminded that gardening is sometimes an exercise in patience. In any year, much of gardening can seem to be about waiting. I wait for it to dry out. I wait for it to rain. I wait for seeds to germinate. Will it hail? I hope for heat. I hope for it to cool off. I wait for weeds to die after a cultivation. I wait for the right moment to plant and cultivate. Then when the time is right, I feel like I need to hurry up and do the thing I have been waiting to do. Sometimes this lifestyle is referred to as "hurry up and wait," and it might speak to the uncertainty workers can have working for an uncertain boss. So the garden is an uncertain boss.

I feel like I need to learn how to wait for something without becoming impatient. I think the word is detachment. I have become better at this over the years. If I can do something at the right time, then I do it. If I can't do it, then I do other things. It is not abandonment.

But what if the right time doesn't come?

Our garden has a north facing slope and a heavy silty clay soil. When other farmers nearby are able to work their ground, our garden is still wet and swampy. Sometimes it even smells like a swamp. Then it rains again. And again. And again. So instead of preparing the soil for planting, the weeds are growing. Then when it is time to work the soil, we need to dry out the weeds by digging them up and letting them dry for a week. It is still wet and it looks like it is going to rain again tonight. Sometimes you work the soil anyway and plant anyway.  We call this "mudding them in," and we have been doing a lot of that this year.

So far we have planted: onions, leeks, some flowers, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, tortilla corn, dry beans, the first carrots, the first beets, the first beans, kale, and green beans. I am impatient to get planted: peppers, herbs, more flowers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelons, sweet corn, brussels sprouts, and lettuce.

This week will again test my detachment and impatience.

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