Monday, October 17, 2005

a view of the mountains from inside the garden Posted by Picasa

The Garden Plan Posted by Picasa

A visit to Walatoola

I spent this past weekend with my friends Mike and Jim planting garlic at their farm in Bath County, VA. It was so good to get dirt under my nails again and to eat fresh produce from the garden.

The layout of this garden is a work of art and science. The fence itself runs along the driveway, but Jim carefully laid out the beds to make maximum use of the available sunlight on the valley floor. So when you walk into the garden from a gate at the corner of the garden, you walk straight down a long diagonal row. They had Silver Queen planted on either side of this diagonal path this summer, and it makes for a dramatic entry way.

We chose a spot near the back for the garlic. First we mowed it (the weeds were prodigious) and then Jim rototilled it. Then we fertilized six large beds that would become the garlic beds. We used Harmony, Azomite and colloidal phosphate plus an all purpose bag of composted manure for each bed. We rototilled again and then raked out stones and weeds and set four foot wide beds. That was evening and morning of the first day.

The next morning we laid out the planting holes using thin bamboo to mark the cross hatch. We used planting stock that they had picked up at the garlic festival in Saugerties, NY. They still have 15 lbs of planting stock coming in from Filaree Farm. We planted 140 soft necks spaced 6x8 and 140 stiff necks spaced 5x8. We were done by noon.

I used some of the remaining time to harvest tomatoes, skin them, seed them and bag them in a freezer bag. Sunday morning before I left, I took some Swiss chard, some Malabar spinach, some peppers and a few flowers. It feels great to be gardening again. Thanks, Walatoola!

Walatoola Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

off traveling for awhile ... back in November Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 01, 2005

a seedy affair Posted by Picasa

Harvest Festival pumpkins Posted by Picasa

October morning Posted by Picasa

Taking leave

I’m leaving my garden tomorrow and will not be here to shepherd it through its first frost. Travel is taking me away until mid-November. It has been a very rich five months, but there is much left undone.

Like the morning glories. For years I have dreamed of a garden gate blooming in morning glories. My gate is right on the verge of being festooned with them (festoon is a word I save for very special descriptions), but I will not get to see it in bloom this year. And there is the one mum I have just on the verge of bloom … not this year.

I gathered all of the tools, watering cans, buckets, thermometers, clay pots, and kneelers and carted them back to the cellar. I drained the hoses and stored them. It is a sad surrender. The first day I am here in the spring I can barely sleep I am so excited about getting started. Out from the cellar and its darkness and into the bright blue of spring I emerge with as many tools as I can carry very early in the morning. Reversing that process is a little like the feeling you get when you take down the Christmas tree and put the ornaments away.

Wouldn’t you know that the spinach has decided to germinate. Perhaps there will be something when I return in November. This is my first season with it and it does seem to work in mysterious ways. There is a second run of tomatoes out there right now that I hope friends will be able to enjoy. I am bringing home many green ones and will fry them up.

There will be more to say in November, but I probably won’t be typing it from my rocking chair perch on the porch. The swallows are swooping against a pure blue sky. The Russian olives are beginning to show their bright red fruit. The recent welcome rain has helped to shift my landscape from brown back to green. When I return it will be time to put the garden to bed.