Tuesday, May 31, 2011

may 28, 2011: quickening

The second radish of the season. (I ate the first.)
There comes a time in each gardening season when things start to happen of their own accord. Seeds emerge from the muddy ground to strain against the row cover. The plants that we sow by choice begin to outnumber those that we remove.

The soil no longer seems to be a sink for our inputs of seed, water, labor, and concern. The semblance is, of course, only in our minds: our garden has not been dormant over the last few weeks, but occulted by topsoil. We have been impatient, weary of even the vestige of winter. We need to relax. (I need to relax.)

The day on which we transplant the first batch of tomato and pepper seedlings seems like the official start of a season, like the Memorial Day weekend during which the day occurred. On the annoyingly chilly Thursday evening before Memorial Day, Susan and Dave brought flats of starts from the greenhouse to the garden. We swaddled the seedlings in straw bales and row cover and hoped that they were still alive on Saturday.

transplanting tomatoes
The seedlings emerged unfrozen from our makeshift cold frame on Saturday morning. I arranged the small pots of peppers and tomatoes in the beds in triangular patterns. Before allowing the other volunteers to dig holes for the starts, I mapped the beds by variety, recording the location of each seedling so that we did not have to rely on scrawled markings on plastic tabs or chopsticks when it was time to save seeds for next season. (Did I mention that I needed to relax?)

planting peppers
While I completed the bed maps and worried about incipient OCD, the other volunteers dug holes deep enough so that the surface of the beds came just below the first true leaves of the seedlings. They filled the holes with water. After the soil had absorbed the water, the volunteers removed the seedlings from their pots and transferred them to the holes. Soil and more water followed the seedlings. We finished by mulching the beds with straw and surrounding them with chicken wire (or, more accurately, rabbit-fencing).

Katrina and April fence peas
We moved on to the beds that we had planted in prior weeks. We used branches newly pruned from our fruit trees as fence posts. We retrieved from storage the braided trunk of an old alley-abandoned ficus that we’ve used for the last few years as a fence post, driving the brittle stalk into the soil of the carrot bed and twist-tying it to a roll of rabbit-fencing. (Our appreciation for particular pieces of repurposed detritus approaches animism.)

Annie and Evelyn arranged paving stones in the dodecahedron bed, and planted mounds of butternut squash, radishes, and spinach between the pavers. The pavers always seem like a good idea at the beginning of the season, before they start to disappear into the loose soil of the bed.

oh hai u rly shld B working
While everyone else worked at the Garden, Dave biked out to Kilbourn Greenhouse to pot more seedlings. It is unclear how much potting he was able to accomplish.

pole beans

chives in bloom