Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Going with the Flow

Weatherwise, the last few days have been quite variable. Actually, the whole Spring has been. We have had rain and more rain. Many folks have talked about drought in the last few years; we are grateful that water reserves seem to be replenishing. While we have had some heat and sun lately on 2 days in particular, we seem to have had more cool days with gray skies. Today has been cool, gray, and overcast, with high humidity. Weather Underground says we have a 50% chance of rain today. I asked Richard and Melanie if it is raining; Richard looked outside at the yard light and said: "Something is coming down. Either it's rain or it could be flying June Bugs."

As of the last few days, the soil had begun to dry out. We don't dare work in the Garden until the soil is dry to the crumble stage. Should we become too eager and get into the Garden too soon, wet clay soils make clods that stay around for the entire growing season. That means Nature says that working in the Garden before we are supposed to is a no-no.

Through these things, Gardeners learn patience. And Gardeners learn quickly that we are not in charge.

Of the 3 of us, Richard has been gardening far longer. Consequently, he has most of his garden planted. Melanie and I are slower, but we are also launching into some new directions. Melanie has been reading about permaculture (which is a "permanent" system of agriculture emphasizing biodiversity). The 2 of us have also been intrigued by companion planting. Richard has too.

Companion planting is when you plant plants that grow best together. Just like people, some plants do better (or worse) when they are in the company of other plants. Some plants replenish the soil (peas and beans) and others take a lot out. Some plants attract insects which are beneficial to other plants. This style of gardening "inter-plants" which means putting companion plants right next to each other. This style of gardening is long on mixing things together. Because of their specific beneficial functions, flowers are an integral part of the vegetable patch.

We are beginners here and are taking in anything we can find. We have found a wonderful book (and a great companion for our adventures): Sally Cunningham's Great Garden Companions: A Companion Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden (Rodale Press, 1998).

So what have we done on these variable days?

  • We have gone about our gardening work "slower". That was hard to get into at first. But now, it feels so right.
  • We have been watching the patterns the Garden follows as it dries out. It's amazing how different it is.
  • I have been working to get my paths in place.
  • We began planting edges along the paths. We could stand in the straw mulch of the path and reach out along the edge. We thought we were so smart.
  • Now more and more spaces are open in the Garden, so we are planting them too.
  • We have been reading all we can find on Companion Planting for the varieties we intend to grow.
  • We have been planning and our plans are more complete. When we can get into the Garden, the planting goes very quickly.
  • We are getting more rest.

Slow but sure, we are learning to "go with the flow". Everything has its own time and place.

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