While You Were Away

by Ken Greene

Awesome Intern Emily weighs in on benign (or necessary) garden neglect, weeds, and dishes dirt about the farm.

I love that a garden can be so familiar and yet so full of surprises.  After a month away, it felt like I was greeted by an old friend when I came home to my small garden last week.  There wasn't much time between planting the garden and leaving for vacation for me get to know my garden well, but I knew it well enough to recognize the neglected rows of leeks and onions and my wimpy bunches of herbs.  The plants were right where I left them (among more weeds and more chipmunk burrows), but the sunlight was hard to find!  It seems that my garden survived the chipmunks, but was stunted by the shade.  The spindly onions look like chives and the basil is barely there, but at least the peppermint plant grew a few leaves for a mint julep to cheer me up.

My first week back at the Seed Library cheered me up, too.  Sunlight was shining everywhere (burning me on the spot where I forgot to put sunscreen), and the plants were growing in every direction!  It was a surprise to see sprouts transformed to waist-high rows of corn or towering sunflowers.  The lettuces are resembling wobbly stacks of frilly hats with yellow bouquets of flowers on top, while the cucumber plants have taken on a more horizontal-habit.  The tomatoes also may have been more horizontal if it weren't for the handiwork of Doug and Ken while I was gone.  Tying tomatoes, harvesting peas and kale seeds and sowing more seeds (http://www.seedlibrary.org/wp/?p=1778) were some of the ways they kept up with the sun's work while I was away.  Of course they saved some watering and weeding for me!

Weeding is a great way to uncover surprises.  Who knew there was okra in that swath of lambsquarters?  How did all those potato bugs get there?  The electric fence is working!  The best shocks have happened in the tomato patches:  discovering the stalks' golden sheen, the yellowness that washes off my hands after pruning and the first red, ripe tomatoes!  The taste of my first summer tomato gave me the same sense of familiarity and surprise that I find every day at the farm.  That feeling and the promise of more tomatoes make me very happy to be back!

And, now that I'm back, what would you like to hear in my next blog posts?  My undercover reporting repertoire could range from accounts of my day-to-day life among the seeds/weeds to what I learned/felt from harvesting parsnip umbels (selecting the best seeds is sort of a power trip).  I could hide out in the hoop house, crawl beneath row cover or dig up dirt on the farm to tell you what the Seed Library is really like.  I wonder what you'd be surprised to know about this place.