knits & plants

aah, the simple life. almost.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

oh, the things I'll grow

I thank my lucky stars for Carmelita. One of my first friends when I came to Vermont, Carmelita was the means by which I became a farmer. She talked about garlic scapes and open-pollinated seeds. She tasted dirt. And in the garden, she moved like a dancer. I was enchanted. I wanted to know everything about this strange world, and I pestered her through the years until she taught me. It was the only way she could shut me up.
Growing things has developed into one of my biggest passions, and one that defines the passage of my life from season to season. I'm delirious with anticipation as the seed catalogs come rolling in around the holidays, when the Vermont days are four hours long, and the temperatures plummet into the negatives. And then in March, when I've still got four feet of snow in the yard, I start sewing little seeds into flat of dirt. As the months progress, the emerging seedlings require more space, and my tiny house is slowly overwhelmed by baby tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, herbs, and lettuces.

Yellow Brandywine seedling. Brandywines are notable for their smooth and oval leaves, unlike the usual jagged leaves common to tomato plants. 
Observe my four new raised beds! Hallelujah. Already planted, although not always yet visible, are three cultivars of peas, GARLIC, fingerling potatoes and purple potatoes, spinach, onions, arugula, beets, kale, radishes, carrots, and one lonely tomato seedlings test-driving the odd turquoise teepee on the right. That's a wall-o-water, and can apparently keep seedlings insulated from our changable spring weather patterns. We'll see.

By this time of the year, I'm pretty tired of seeing all these seedlings all over the kichen and living room. I'm tired of schlepping them in and out so that they can harden off in the real air, and learn to deal with wind and direct sunlight. I'm tired of planting seeds, only to transplant them a few weeks later into bigger containers. And most of all, I'm tired of catching whiffs of the liquid fish emulsion that I use to fertilize. I feel like the parent who can't wait to get the kids out of the house so they can take care of themselves for chrissakes. 

When there was a job and a baby to take care of, my love of farming was sometimes in conflict with the real world. It was a struggle to keep up with, and harvest time brought me close to tears. However, there's an unexpected perk to being laid off right as the growing season commences. 

Now, after I've finished the daily chores of feeding chickens, prepping compost, planting, weeding, watering and (hopefully) keeping track of what has gone in where all while minding Liam, I get to retire to my favorite spot under the crab apple tree.

Instead of sitting behind my desk, fretting about my workload and deadlines, early afternoon finds me here, sitting in my hammock (a prized keepsake from my time in South Carolina). Hearing nothing but cows and chickens and kids and dogs, I can survey the late spring scene in Goose Green and think about all the stuff I'm not missing anymore.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

tap tap tap This thing on?


Welcome back to knits and plants, returning from a year-long hiatus that I don't really have a terribly good excuse for. What I can tell you is that the energy required to resuscitate a dormant blog is tremendous. Obviously, the site needs a good dusting, but if I begin with that, you won't see any new content for another three months.

I'm writing from my porch at noon, while looking over the early garden and trying to figure where to begin bringing you up to date. Since I stopped updating this site, here's the short list of things that have changed:
  • We got another Springer Spaniel from Murphy's breeder. Zeke just turned one this week. He's cute, happy, adores Liam, and is as dumb as a post.
  • Liam turned two. Anything I write describing that will be hopelessly redundant.
  • Now that I am no longer pregnant or spending my summer in pediatric intensive care, I am back to gardening. The greenhouse is gone, but we built a number of new raised beds closer to the house (and a water source). I am stoked.
  • I lost my Lola cat. There are no words.
  • After walking on tenterhooks for seven months, I lost my job. I told you people you needed to buy more beautiful, insanely-priced, Vermont-made furniture!
  • The day before I lost said job, we adopted Eiby, a half-Springer, half-Setter 2-year-old who needed a better situation than she had. She and Zeke are made for each other, and the fact that she's a lovely sweetheart who adores me isn't too bad either. 
So that's the rundown. At least it's a better list than 2007. Now I've got to figure out how to survive as an unemployed intellectual in a back-of-beyond corner of Vermont. Thank god summer is coming. And speaking of summer:

It's almost here!! 

And this is where you can find us this summer. Boulder Beach in Groton State forest. A half-hour drive from my house, and heaven on earth.


Liam will come with if he has too, but he'd be just as happy on the tractor with a Budweiser.