Tag Archives: gardening

Local Compost

Having completed the raised bed, we now have space in both composters to get the system moving again. I have a rotating drum composter that has two compartments. Into this one, I toss our vegetable food scraps. When one side gets full, I close it off and start filling the other while the first finishes composting. The result of this is then dumped into a more traditional top-in, bottom-out style composter which also gets some yard clippings and waste. For brown material, I get sawdust from a local artists’ hackerspace, and for nitrogen, I go to Starbucks with a bucket every once in a while. I pick up the bucket later in the day and dump the coffee grounds in the drum composter. It gets cooking after that. Last week, I took my son in the stroller to pick up the grounds, and then we walked back together as the bucket rode in style in the stroller. I did get a few odd looks as I walked down the sidewalk with a very aromatic stroller and walking toddler.

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I Broke the Weedwhacker, But I Did Not Break the Hedge Trimmer

A much lesser known reggae song, but it was what I was singing as I did yard work on Sunday, Father’s Day. I finally got to the hedge and the ivy that have pushed out copious growth since last year. I filled three trash cans and five yard bags with clippings, and the place doesn’t look like a scary Fragonard landscape. The ivy, however, did wreck the weed whacker. I ended up trimming it with the hedge clipper.

I started the morning getting up with the kids at the decent hour of 6:30. I made pancakes and hung out until my wife came downstairs. I then took a nap and awoke to have lunch with the crew. Yard work followed.

In the evening, my daughter and I planted two pots with purple pepper seedlings and seeds for lettuce, basil, and radishes. The radishes were a party favor from a classmate’s birthday party on Saturday. Around here, that is record time getting something in the soil. We then watered our garden where sunflowers and corn are doing well. We might get one large beet out of there, too. We then dropped one of the pots off at a friend’s house where we also deposited their half of the farm share.

I finished the day’s chores by picking up a dresser on craigslist. Our children’s clothing no longer fits in one dresser, and we had been looking for a while. I glued up the bottom of one of the drawers and put a clamp on it. Hopefully over night the glue will set and hold the slightly warped bottom in.

All in all, a good Father’s Day.

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Just Sitting and Reading

Saturday, I was still not feeling so well, and with my wife away at a concert, I had the kids for a few hours. One thing I could do, however, was read the books I got from the library a week ago. With my daughter nestled against me on the couch and my son banging things together as he seems to want to do in every waking hour, we shared the four books. I have copied my GoodReads reviews for each book below.

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

This is a wonderful story of how things change and stay the same. It follows the journey of a quilt made from a family’s clothing as it is passed down mother-to-daughter over the generations and finally is in the hands of the author, Patricia Polacco. The spare use of color in the illustrations highlights the quilt, and the subtle changes in the people around it as the time passes is reflected both in the pictures and the text. This story resonates on a few personal levels with Jewish Russian ancestry and with a quilt hanging in my bedroom made from the clothes of my wife’s mother and which served as the covering of our huppa (as the quilt in the book did several times). I hope our quilt can be a treasured link to past generations just as the one in the book did.

A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman

For quite a while, Corduroy has been one of my daughter’s favorite characters, and we regularly read the first book in the series. It was a favorite of mine from childhood, and I have come to love it again as an adult. From the presence of a spunky, African-American girl for the main character opposite Corduroy to the bear’s constant wonder and joy in the world. I also love the depiction of life that includes apartments, laundromats, and other features that feel authentic to me. In this tale, Corduroy spends the night at a laundromat and eventually gets a pocket with his own name in it, and in the tale, all of the characters are genuinely nice and caring.

Mine, All Mine by Claire Hawcock and Chiara Pasqualotto

My daughter is four. Toooften, but developmentally appropriately, we often hear, “Mine,” coming from her lips. There are some nice books that deal with the idea of ownership, and this is one of them. The little squirrel wants to keep a glittery snowflake, represented on the pages by a textured and glittery snowflake, all to itself. Once it builds a nest to keep control of the flake, the squirrel misses out on life and finally decides to let go of the treasure in order to be with the other squirrels. It is a simple story, but the illustrations and text make it work without being too didactic.

How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry

A friend recently commented on my makeshift garden fence that its floppiness was a good groundhog deterrent. So far it seems to have kept out the rabbit that was eating my pea plants, and I suppose it has kept out groundhogs as well. In this lushly illustrated book, all of the regular garden assaulting animals instead grown their own gardens that are overflowing with produce. Squirrel teaches Groundhog how to save seeds, sow them in the spring, care for the plants, and harvest the results. Of course they share the food with friends at the end. I really like the messages and amazingly detailed illustrations and can even get past the fact that the characters in this book are more likely to devastate my garden that can’t hold a candle to the one in the book. There is lots here for my daughter and me to come back and read again.

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That Was Fast!

It seems like yesterday, but it was a week or two when we planted these seeds during a playdate. Now they are pushing against the plastic cover and begging to get into the ground. I guess I know one of the things we will do over the weekend. Corn and sunflowers. Probably these are seeds best sown in the ground, but the fun of seeing them poke up through the soil is too great to pass. The peppers and squash have yet to pop up.

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I See Leaves of Green

My new book to read is Grow Great Grub. I hope to improve upon our gardening experience of last year– maybe not this year, but as an ongoing process. The peas, again, are showing up again. With the heat and cool, I have no idea what will happen with the beets and carrots, but if last year was any indicator, the carrots will be about an inch long. That did not dampen my daughter’s enthusiasm. She loved pulling them up and sharing them with anyone who visited.

I am realizing that my soil quality is terrible, and I hope to rectify that with the compost that we have been creating for some time.

There are plenty of other things to do to improve the crop yield, but that is not the real point. My real goal is to connect my children to the growth of life that happens in the spring, to the harvest, to the act of eating what one has grown. I want to show a different type of time; the one that measures from planting to harvest and whose demarcations fluidly move with the weather and seasons. Part of me observes the clock of work, of appointments, and of convenience. Part of me–my hands, my heart, my sight–also work in this other space.

The garden is just a focus and learning tool for this. Each day the Earth sends these messages. As I sit at this computer, dusk has fallen with darkness now almost complete. My neighbor’s enormous tree, covered with new leaves, captured my attention. The bright green lacework will be replaced by darker leaves creating an opaque screen. The timescape of plants runs through me and, hopefully, through me to my children.

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To Farm or Not to Farm. That is the Question!

With the temps hitting 68 today, I just couldn’t wait to put something in the ground. When my son fell asleep in the car on the way home from running errands after dropping my daughter off at preschool, I decided to park the car in the driveway, open the door, and let him sleep with the sounds of birds and feel of fresh breezes on his skin. Even the recycling truck banging away and a very loud school group did not disturb him.  I eased open the garage door, got out a cultivator, rake, and a shovel and attacked my compost bin and the patch of ground that will be this year’s garden. After some effort, there was a nice sized rectangle of turned earth mixed with peat moss and finished compost. Standing behind the brick ringed plot is a steel flower sculpture made by a friend of mine.

After my son had his second nap, my neighbor picked up her daughter who I looked after for a short while, and my daughter had settled down, I took the two kids out to a nearby playground. When we returned, my daughter and I spent some time planting peas in one end of the plot. They are snow peas, so …

When I rustled up my watering can, I found that a rodent had taken a bite out of the bottom. I’ll have to bring up the hose from the basement once I get more planted. I am so excited to see how this year’s plants fare.

 

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