Friday, 24 June 2011

Listening To Your Garden

The disappointment that food gardeners can face is sometimes harsh and painful.  We give energy and effort in boundless quantities, with lofty dreams and big plans for bountiful harvests and yet, in spite of that effort, sometimes things go wrong.  I'm learning to hold my plans loosely, hoping for the best, but braced for the worst as the variables affecting harvest are astoundingly numerous and often out of my control.  Weather, moisture, soil condition, pests, seed viability, competition from weeds, animals...  the list goes on.  In the face of gut wrenching disappointment, we stalwart gardeners bravely pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and try, try again.  Oh, how hope does spring eternal in the gardener's heart!

I'm finally learning to listen to my garden.  Oh yes, gardens really do speak to us.  They whisper little messages, often subtle, that warn us of problems and impending trouble.  Slow growth, yellowed leaves, pest damage, poor germination...  many signs are often present, prodding us to investigate.  We can live for a few days comfortably busy in the "Land of Denial", but soon, the obvious hits us smack in the face.  There's a problem.  And it's big. 

In late May, I planted 2 varieties of heritage corn and sadly only one of the varieties has sprouted and taken off (Bi Color).  I've since read that "Country Gentleman" is not the best germinator, so that explains why nothing is happening with that seed (should have done a little more research beforehand, I guess...)  It's sad and frustrating, but I need to move on and plant something else.   The plot is a tad shadier than I expected (my short hoop house blocks more sun than I thought), so I think I peas are in order.  My garden tells me so :)

Yesterday, I prepped the area by turning over the top few inches of soil (the weeds were so bad, I am now calling them a cover crop - wink).  The digging was a chance to think.   I should have dealt with the problem sooner, but I chose to ignore it thinking that "things" would surely be happening soon...  Yesterday, it was blatantly obvious (after some quick calculating of days in my head) that there was NO way that corn (even if it did germinate) would be harvest ready before the first frost.  So...  the decision was made to "cull" what few little plants were growing and move on.   The Lincoln Homesteader peas have been soaking overnight, and they'll be planted ceremoniously today marking a fresh start for the garden and for me.

Slow down today, and "listen" to your garden.. is it quietly telling you that something is amiss?


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