STARTING FRESH

I have always appreciated a fresh start. I like mornings. The first of the month. I even like Mondays – although I’ve never been a nine-to-fiver, which I’m sure helps with that. Did you have “do over”s when you were a kid? I like those too. And here we are in the New Year, the biggest fresh start of all. 

So I’m calling this blog post a fresh start. I’m sorry I’ve neglected it for so long. I know how frustrating it can be to follow a blog and look forward to a new post and not get one. First it’s disappointing. Then it’s annoying. Then it makes you angry. Eventually you give up. I can’t blame you. I’ve done it too. I won’t make any promises, but I missed you and I hope you’ll come back and see what’s happening in the garden from time to time.

We’ve had a pretty mild winter so far, and I’ve been able to continue to eat out of my garden, which is really gratifying. We had our first hard freeze only a few nights ago, I think it got down to 16º. We’ll see how it looks out there tomorrow when it warms up a bit, but last I checked I still had

Swiss chard,

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kale,

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collard greens,

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broccoli raab, which went crazy and tried to escape the hoop –

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fortunately I found a really cute weight to hold down the floating row cover – 

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and leeks.

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We’ll see how much longer everything lasts.

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I’ve been pretty busy out there even so. It has long been a personal goal of mine to create enough compost to be able to give all my beds a layer of homemade organic matter at the end of the season. I’ve been working towards closing that loop since I started my garden three years ago and I got much closer this year. I was able to put a 2″ layer of mulch on 237 ft² of a total 410 ft² of gardening space. I am determined to do the entire garden next year.

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I even sifted it! The empty beds got a nice helping of this black gold.

Then I got a cool leaf blower that also sucks.

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Ok, it doesn’t suck, it rocks, because it sucks up leaves and shreds them which reduces them about ten fold and makes a great (free!) mulch with which to put a bed to sleep for the winter. This will reduce spring weeding and encourage earthworms.

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Then, come spring, I’ll dig everything in and be good to go.

I also got the important fall planting done. On October 22, I planted French grey shallots.

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They are said to be the cremé de le crop of shallots and I mean to find out. (We’ll talk more about them later.)

On November 20th I planted three kinds of garlic, about 40 cloves in total. Two softnecks, Tochliavri and Broadleaf Czech and a hardneck, German Red.

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All were from the garlic I planted last year and harvested on June 24th. I used the largest, healthiest cloves I could find. Another loop closed.

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I still have garlic in storage in the garage, but a lot of it is starting to sprout. We’ll see if it lasts me through the winter. Here’s an interesting article on storing garlic from Rodale’s Organic Life website (http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/6-ways-make-garlic-last-longer). I must experiment with all those great methods next season.

Because it’s been so mild and there’s not much left to do in the garden proper, I’ve also been playing with rocks in the dirt. I’m expanding the perennial bed and making a border between it and the lawn.

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I don’t know what it says about me, but this is honestly one of my favorite things to do. If you live in the Ozarks, you probably have a pile of rocks somewhere on your property. If not, rest assured, they are there, just under the surface, daring you to dig a hole.

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That’s a hole I dug to plant a tree for a client and the pile of rocks that I excavated during the process.

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Indeed.

So that’s the lowdown. The seed catalogs are rolling in and we’ll be starting seeds here in a few short weeks. I’m determined to grow some nice cabbages this year, as well as Brussels sprouts, and I’m going to give artichokes and celery a go. I’m going to be diligent about the cucumber beetles and teach you how to make the best homemade cornichons. And I plan to turn more of my yard into a dedicated herb garden. I also have some fun projects to share with you. So please come back and visit.

Circling back to fresh starts, the only official New Year’s Resolution I made this year was to meditate daily. I know that learning to sit quietly with my thoughts is at the foundation of any sort of relationship I have with myself – and therefore anyone and anything else. And so far so good. I’ve missed a day or two in there and wondered why I was feeling antsy and more scattered than usual. But I forgave myself and did it the next morning. And while I realize that actual do overs are the stuff of school yards. That once life begins often the best we can do is stumble blindly through the underbrush, trying to keep up and not lose an eye. And that any wisdom we gain along the way is mostly through chances we didn’t take, mistakes we can’t take back, and betrayals we will always regret. I also realize that no one is immune from those experiences. If meditation is teaching me anything, it’s that every breath, every moment, is an opportunity to start fresh

I wish you all the fresh starts you can manage.

Happy New Year.

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GONE FISHIN’

Okay, I haven’t really gone fishin’. But I am going on a trip! I’m going to New York for the first time since I left in late 2011 and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, plus getting out of town can be challenging for me, because I have a garden and a dog. Both are hard to leave behind, but both are in good hands. Plus it’s been pouring for two days, so that helps the garden part.

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And then there’s New York. I was so infatuated with New York for so long, and when we finally got together I was happy. Really happy. I was so full of the possibility of us. Our future together. The things we would do. That lasted for a while, but eventually it all became too much – too much drama, too much energy, too much money. I couldn’t remember why we were together anymore and I felt lonely all the time. I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t getting what I needed out of our relationship. I had to cut my losses and let it go, regardless of what I had invested in it. Our break up was drawn out and exhausting and it took its toll on me, but I don’t think New York has thought about me once. And that’s okay. I’m cool with that. I can honestly say I have moved on. I can be grateful for the experience without feeling stupid and used.

Except now I’m returning…

I had that ↑ talk with my dear friend Kenneth and when we realized that it really was like a break up, I could laugh at it, and now I’m just so excited to see my friends that I don’t even need to see New York. I don’t care what it thinks of me. Because we are never ever getting back together.

Oh, and while I’m there I’m also going to see Taylor Swift with my seven-year old niece, five-year old nephew, both of my sisters, my brother-in-law, and one of my very best friends, so how can I not shake it off?!

In the meantime I’ll give you an update of things around the garden and when I get back we can talk about New York and Taylor Swift and the carrot seed tape I recently made, and who know what else?

We are currently harvesting potatoes

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and green beans

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and we’re very close to tomatillos.

I am enraptured by tomatillos. The way those floating lanterns catch the light and glow is entirely mesmerizing. Granted, there hasn’t been a lot of light for them to catch lately, but when they do it’s hypnotizing.

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We’re also getting very close to an onslaught of ripe tomatoes.

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What we don’t have are cucumbers. After going out every night for a week with my camping headlamp on to intercept slugs, they were finally coming into their own and starting to climb…

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…only to be laid low by bacterial wilt. Major bummer. We can talk about that when I get back too.

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I started some new seeds and they have already sprouted, so hopefully all is not lost and I’ll get to tell you all about the joys of homemade cornichons a little later in the season.

We also have a mystery guest. I have no idea who this is.

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I know it’s a squash of some ilk, but that’s all I’ve got. David found it as a seedling in the onion bed and moved it outside the fence. I thought it was a yellow crookneck originally because that’s what was there last year. Whatever it is it’s growing like gangbusters in all directions.

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I don’t know if I should harvest it small, or let it get big, or what! Maybe it’s a cross breed? I’ll try to figure that out when I get home. The wheelbarrow back there is my feeble attempt to barricade deer from the okra. And that neon green thing is a mesh bag of Irish spring for the same reason.

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They’ve been helping themselves to my roses too! Those bags of soap remind me of girl scout camp. Good times!

So that’s about that. I hope everyone is having an awesome summer so far!

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