Once in mid-October when I was fourteen, I caught our neighbor Edna Cobal unannounced in the garden behind her home. I had ridden my bike to her house to deliver a check from my father, and as she didn’t appear when I knocked on the kitchen door, I went around to the back where I knew she kept a garden. Continue reading
Category Archives: Gardening
There is snow to the knee where I live and feet of ice on the lakes, but my farmer friends Dan, Abby, Jake, Eric, Epsom Dave and I are already farming. It’s early, yes, but there’s plenty to do. Like starting seeds and building shelves and running off to workshops on high tunnels and the spotted-wing drosophila… .
And then there are certain photos we need to consider. Like the one above. A little something to rally the soul. Support for when we stand in our doorways and look out over the frozen fields.
(Thanks to the unknown/unnamed photographer.)
As it is mid-February and I’ve been working on my 2013 seed order, I dug up this vintage seed-catalog cover and placed it on my desktop. Out of hundreds of similar images that one can find online, this one has always seemed to me among the best. Continue reading
My wife and daughter were away in Oregon last week, so I took the opportunity to indulge in something neither of them fully appreciates—the smell of just-harvested garlic. The day after they left, I pulled the entirety of this year’s planting (three wheelbarrow loads) and moved it into our house. I spread it out on the kitchen table, and what didn’t fit there I laid under the table.
By evening the house smelled just as I hoped—like a barn loft filled with garlic. In the mud room, the kitchen, the living room, upstairs—everywhere, that whole-earth garlic smell. Plus, there was garlic to look at it, too, neck-to-neck on a table I made in the center of a house I built. It was a new combination of things, the stuff of my hands, my life, my meaning. Continue reading
Yesterday, Mother Earth News asked its facebook readers for comments/advice on buying land in the country. On a whim and somewhat off question, I threw in my advice:
I am on year 10 of homesteading, farming, trying to live authentically…. Here are my thoughts:
1. Buy land that is at least partially cleared.
2. Know how to work with your hands.
3. Be able and willing to buy the highest quality tools.
4. Do not buy land where the house sits close to the road.
5. Build the best fences money can buy.
6. Do not bring on animals until you are ready, and being ready means housing, fencing, water, power, patience.
7. Remember that animals grow up, get old, get out, destroy things, make noise, stink, run away, can’t be reasoned with. Continue reading
Each morning early, usually at about 5:30, I go to the garden and look in on things. The world can change overnight, you know, and so, too, a garden–little things like weeds, or big things like three deer in the peas. So starting at one side, I walk up and down the rows, hoe in hand, and slowly the garden, this particular day’s garden, becomes front and center in my mind. I figure out what needs doing, and how and when and why. Continue reading
I stood upright twenty bean poles earlier this week, planted six beans per pole, watered them in, waited, and here on Sunday morning they’re up and circling each pole like girls around a Maypole. Perfect company for Sunday morning, I’d say. Plus, for awhile, two doves joined, weaving in and around the poles and pecking at some small thing on the ground.
But no crows. I highlight the absence of crows because they love newly emergent beans. They seek them out. Not the new-growth part but rather the just-planted seed. Hopping pole to pole, they grab each new shoot with their beaks, yank, and there they are, the bean seeds, which they eat outright one after another. Continue reading
If selling produce at a farmers market makes one a farmer, then today I officially become a farmer. Because today is opening day at my town’s market, and I will be there, with my new, white EZ Up, with my tables full with lettuce and D’Avignon radishes, and tucked under the tables and out of sight, my coolers, each of them filled with backup produce just waiting to take the stage.
My journey to a time when I would vend at a farmers market has been a long one. 19 years, in fact, if you start counting from the day I happened upon a farmers market in Boulder, Colorado. This happened back in 1993 when my wife and I were two weeks into an improvised, see-what-happens camping trip across the American West. Continue reading
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. –Annie Dillard
The 2012 growing season started for me earlier this week with a quick planting of 200 cabbages. Small news to be sure, the planting of cabbages, but then living the small news is what my life on Saddleback Mountain is about—a day arrives, I build a few cold frames, plow a field, parent a child, dig a trench, watch crows, plant cabbages, the day passes—and so my small-news days. Is it enough, do you suppose? If I am mindful, if I attend, if I always remember to grow where I’m planted…? Continue reading
The summer solstice happened one week ago today, and as I was in the garden early that day, and still there late, I took in a good part the performance. Somehow I always remember the solstices. I don’t drum, or paint my face blue, or in any way make a big deal of them. I simply remember—that it’s the longest day, or the shortest, that it’s the beginning of summer, or the end—and thereby acknowledge my appreciation for the order of the universe. Continue reading