borrowed bounty

It’s been over a year since I officially threw in the plow on vocational farming. One of the things I miss the most is the weekly harvest days before market. We carted, pulled, and dragged vegetables into the barn. They sat in piles. Stacks. Sometimes even pyramids. All waiting to be washed hydro-cooled. In a matter of hours, each zucchini, each carrot, each collard would be inspected, bundled, and placed in cold storage. At the end of the day, sometimes I would have to catch my breath at the sheer number of vegetables my hands had touched that day.

Sometimes it was easy to become desensitized to the volume of produce. During the height of summer, five pounds of basil would roll around our counters like change in your pocket. Even making a triple batch of pesto would hardly make a dent in the supply. And then another tidal wave of the peppery green leaves would break the next day.

While my partial-sun window boxes have kept in a a mostly steady supply of mixed herbs, my eyes have itched for the cartloads of butternut squash and coolers full of greens. I’ve had to borrow my bounty this year from friends and family.

I’ve clipped and hung herbs to dry, sorted jars of heirloom bean varieties, forked elderberries off their stems, snipped oatstraw into pieces, pulled hops flowers off their vines till my hands were stained and smelled of ginger and garlic, rubbed nettle leaves off their stems till my hands ached and itched, and shuffled through the yard bent double gathering black walnuts. Though I’ve yet to use a cart this season, the harvest has been brought in using baskets, five gallon buckets, baking trays, coat pockets, window screens, bowls, and impromptu shirt “baskets.”

The harvest is abundant indeed.

Posted 11 years, 9 months ago at 5:13 pm. Add a comment

an encouraging use of space

While the quality of the picture is anything but encouraging, this use of space certainly gives me cause for hope. Someone refused to let their lack of outdoor space deter them from having a garden. It’s encouraging because it proves there are people out there who are thinking creatively and willing to put in some work (even if unconventional) to grow a bit of their own food.

What things have you seen recently that have been encouraging?

Posted 11 years, 11 months ago at 9:08 pm. Add a comment

Cupboard Gardening

Spring seems to be springing a little early this year. Or maybe I’m just feeling the lack of an all out winter. Even though the seed catalogs have been circulating since January, the weather just never got blustery enough to thumb through them. So I’m doing it now.

Because I don’t have a proper garden of my own, most of my looking really ought to be called dreaming. I read seed catalogs the way other women window shop– imagining the possibilities “if only.” Instead of scrutinizing my figure or assessing the practicality of a certain pair of shoes, I gauge the amount of sunlight I have and whether or not I really need another variety of sage. Just like window shoppers, sometimes I fall prey to the “if only” thinking and buy a few packets of seeds that I know I won’t be able to grow given my space and sunlight. These packets sit there on the counter for weeks, looking hopeful in their pretty paper packages. Achingly, I come to the decision that it is waste of the highest form to let perfectly viable seeds just sit. So I give them to a friend with a garden and return to my dreaming. Please tell me I’m not the only one that does this?

This year, however, I’ve decided to take a different approach: cupboard gardening. Trust me, it’s not as trendy as it sounds. I haven’t installed a fancy hydroponic  Window Farm or even old fashioned window boxes. You’ll laugh when you see….

See? I told you.


Posted 12 years, 4 months ago at 8:45 pm. 2 comments

Stalking Wonder- Germinating


Somewhere in the middle of a normal day, amidst dirty dishes and laundry on the line, this happened. I don’t know when. Since planting these seeds almost three weeks ago, I’ve checked them compulsively. Nothing ever happened. Like a character in a parable, my faith wavered. And then, in the middle of wiping off the table, I happened to glance at the terra cotta pot supposedly cradling my seeds… and there it was. Someone less familiar with the terrain of that pot would not have noticed it.  All bent double, the bend barely visible above the dirt. But to me, who had studied this pot for days for any sign to bolster my flat faith, the effervescent green was as arresting as a soda can exploding in my hand.

I watched throughout the day as the fetal sprout slowly stretched and straightened. I also began to notice others bending through the surface. There are four now altogether. Such abundance to someone who despaired of having any seedlings just hours ago. Continue Reading…

Posted 14 years, 4 months ago at 2:41 pm. Add a comment