Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good Farming Makes for Bad Blogging

Most of my day finds me behind the wheelbarrow, not the keyboard. But the rains are upon us so here I peck. The lushness and promise of bountiful late Spring and Summer harvests has me running back and forth from compost pile to chicken coop. Trading old dirt for rich organic matter that has been cooking for a year is oddly rewarding. The turning of manure and churning of leaves may not seem like much of a sexy pastime but trust me. When the colors burst forth in my kitchen garden I am filled with lust. Almost enough to forego the boyfriend search for the warmer months. I'm more of a winter beau kind of gal anyway. There's frankly too much to do right now to worry about man pants.

I'm doing exactly what I want this season. The last three years I have been schooling myself on gardening. Listening to others. Trial and error. Planting in rows (old man suggestion) The square foot garden (which with 7 acres I have no idea WHY I was building little boxes everywhere...duh) was a silly adventure more suited to a child with a science project. Last year the Guatemalan was all about beans and corn, beans and corn. Which is fine...for the chickens. Another year I planted over 50 tomato plants and thankfully I was managing a farmers market in Atlanta so I could sell them before I got nightshade poisoning. This year I've built something off the kitchen in the round like a wagon wheel to divide the veggies. Beans will trellis up the crape myrtle fence, heirloom corn will grow up the "teepee". Sunflower sprouts are harvested daily for my own consumption and everything from chard to amaranth goes in the other "spokes". I'm planting for visual appeal. I'm planting for color. I'm planting for me.

This year's biggest plan is the "pool". I had it filled last I can't think about being sustainable with 70,000 gallons of water and energy to run pumps and chemicals...ugh. Pools are a giant waste. I love to swim. Love it. In the ocean. So anyway, I'm trying my hand at lavender and sunflowers over there in half of it. Last month's big splurge was 36 tons of gravel and sand to break up the clay. Okay and I bought some new shoes.

This year I'm not forcing myself to "get the garden in"'s not yard work. It's food. And it's love. And it should go in a more natural cycle I've decided. Last year's squash crop had me (and my neighbors) so sick of the yellow gourds that I'm not actually letting any of them fruit this year. I'm just eating the blossoms. But this year I'm waiting 2 weeks in between seed plantings. Whoever planted the perennial beds at this house was a genius, providing color and pop ups nearly every week of the year. It's a feat of timing. So why not the same with gardens. I know I'm not the first one to think of this, but the process of discovery keeps me interested.

The chicks are 6 weeks now and over 2lbs each. They go through 50# of feed a week and countless barrels of sunflower seeds and fresh worms. They are machines of eating and growing. They will be delicious.