Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer in the City

hot sunThe warm sun beat down upon my back as I looked up from planting.  I wiped the salty sweat with a quick swipe as more gathered upon my brow.  Deciding, somewhat spontaneously, to put in my garden after all was why I was standing in the hot June sun planting.  My decision to not plant this year due to the constant fight with the deer and instead put my energy into walking long miles in the heat had not stood.  I found the call of the dirt to be too strong.  The need to feel the dark earth, warm and moist, nay to fondle it, caress it like a lover, was too strong.  Plus, I just love going to the nursery and buying really past prime plants and making them grow. 

So, into the ground went a bunch of Kohlrabi.  Why because last year the deer ate them ALL and there is nothing better than a cold, raw kohlrabi...who knew?  I didn't until a couple of years ago...after the first bite I was a goner...they are really that good.  For some reason, I always buy way too many tomatoes.  I am not a good tomato grower.  They seem to look at me and laugh.  "You know that I will grow and sprout a bunch of little tomatoes and then the blight will come, don't you?", they say to me.  Still, hope springs eternal in a gardener's heart, I put in 10 this year.  

CantaloupeFor some reason, I wanted to try cantaloupe.  Gosh, Vera, its JULY!  Ever the optimist, I figure I have as good a chance as any having them give me 'lopes before the snow flies!! Plus, I'll be really proud if they grow, I've never grown cantaloupe, successfully, before.  Also, into the dark, dry earth went 2 Cucumbers, 4 Flowering Kale (can you eat them?) and some Basil.  I'd planted some up on the porch earlier from seed and the danged Chipmunks ate all but 1.  These do not look like basil though so guess I'll see what they end up becoming!  Oh, I also put in Chocolate Peppers! What the heck?!

I'm friends with the owner of this family run nursery/vegetable market and when I bought my plants we stood in the outrageously hot greenhouse talking about the lack of rain, the farm bills running through Congress, the health of the sustainable Portage County farming community, how to keep the Blight off tomatoes and just generally catching up after the long winter.  I told her the story of our garden "tractor" we just purchased and how I was now calling myself a farmer since I "officially" own a tractor now.  She laughed companionably and totally got it.  We talked about our deer herd since she lives just south of me and the same deer that plague me eat her for profit vegetables.  A much bigger problem for her than for me just losing my summer veggies.  Yet again, she understood and commiserated and agreed that if I could get a bigger operation going that I had a good place to sell organic veggies. 

That easy, summer camaraderie of the garden is why I love working the earth.  We all live  by what nature brings our way.  We have the same enemies...deer, rodents, bugs and hail.  Advice is as freely shared as is an extra package of plants because we all know that being able to raise your own food is something to be proud of and not everyone has the guts or the determination to stick it out.  Its fun being a member of the Order of the Perpetually Dirty Fingernails.  

Not my backyard but this is summer sunset in the city!
 So, I'll cross my fingers and stand out in the yard looking skyward for signs of rain, battle the bugs and pick weeds in the waning light of the rosy, summer sun with birdsong my sunset serenade.  I'll breathe in the grassy air and the peace that comes from being a part of the earthly cycle of birth and death. The result of all the work?  Yummy fresh veggies!