Goodbye Garden?

by Ken Greene

This post if from awesome intern Emily. After helping us get the farm going, enduring the soggy spring, and catching us up on writing catalog descriptions, our other awesome intern Alison has moved on to follow her passion for writing. Good luck Alison!  And lucky for us awesome intern Emily decided to stay on to see the season through after going on her previously planned cross-country road trip. Here are her parting words, but I'm sure she'll have more to say when she comes back in July.

Goodbye Garden?

I promise that this week's temperatures in the high 90's have nothing to do with why I'm going away.  The Seed Library and this community are feeling more and more like home, but I'm taking leave of the farm for somewhat of a summer vacation.   But, I'll be back!  And, I've planted a garden at the house I'm renting to show that I don't plan to abandon this place (or Ken and Doug mid-season!).  I'm attached to the farm and my new garden, so I'll look forward to returning… provided that my garden is still here!

A garden can be a good marker for home, but it seems that my garden is a battleground for a territorial dispute over whose home it is.  A family of chipmunks is on one side of the dispute (the underground side) and I'm invading from above, dropping seedlings in the soil like flags to stake my claim.  I traded an infestation of rats in my fire-escape city garden for rodents of another sort (an admittedly-cuter sort) in my country garden.

What my country garden has that my city garden never had is space!  Instead of using hand tools and potting mix, I was happily pulling a hoe through the bed at my kitchen door, amending the clay-ey soil with Seed Library prescribed compost and "fairy dust" (a non-chemical, vegan fertilizer we hand-mix on the farm: soy and kelp meals, rock phosphate and pulverized lime).  My work unearthed a heap of rocks, and the first glimpse of infrastructure of my opponents ... who knew that chipmunks dug tunnels!

Of course I was aware that pests could pose a problem when I planned my garden.  I had to consider that it would be un-fenced, mostly shady and unlikely to get any attention for the next month (other than from furry foragers).  If the last two weeks are any indication, I also can't count on the skies to water my plants while I'm gone.  So, if this garden is a success, my garden will be a breakthrough for the laissez-faire folks.

Keeping in mind that the garden is within an easy reach of my kitchen, I picked mostly herbs and aromatic seedlings from the Seed Library hoophouse:  King Richard summer leeks, Ailsa Craig sweet onions, Tam Jalapenos (in a 4 gallon pot), thyme, sage, Italian Large Leaf Basil, lovage "Magnus" and peppermint.  I'm dreaming of peppermint-lemon iced tea and basil with Seed Library heirloom tomatoes when I return in July.  And I'm hoping that the chipmunks don't have a similar appetite before then (could they please eat the wild onions grass in my yard instead?).  I've already lost 2 of 4 thyme plants and 1 of 5 basil plants I planted.  The chipmunks are also making threatening displays of seed-stuffed cheeks, warning me from planting any Sunflower Surprise seeds like I had hoped.

Rodents are excellent seed savers, but their masked, marauding ways don't make them a good mascot for the Seed Library.  Right now, I'm a bigger fan of the fat, black cat that met me at my kitchen door this week.  Good luck garden? Or, goodbye garden?  I'll let you know how it goes!