Week 6 (Chicago Week 4)

List of this week's vegetables

  • Cabbage
  • Two zucchini
  • Lettuce mix
  • Cherry belle radishes
  • Rumpled red wave lettuce
  • Purple peacock or broccoli
  • Green wave mustard
  • Snow peas or beans
  • Long cucumber
  • Short cucumber
  • Basil or dill

 

 

What gardens have always been, this garden is, too

Steady rain has some weeds recovering in 2 weeks as much growth as some vegetables manage in a full season. Dela, Jenna and Jim have worked through some garden beds 4, 6, 8 times, removing weeds.

 I join them, weeding and mowing as much as I can. I mulch, too, deterring weeds with stored straw, switch grass, even chips of hay bales we lost to rain. Memories of gardens past in drought years still make us loathe to complain of “too much rain.”

 Poets, philosophers, theologians and presidents have all recounted relationships to gardens in wet and dry years of their lives. A “love affair” with Mother Nature. A most “innocent pleasure.” A “sorrowful struggle” with weeds, bugs and weather. Each garden is different. Each is the same. It all evolves daily, annually out of this central life-giving activity as old as Creation.

 Chinese are credited with discerning happiness for an hour in a party host, for a week in one who kills and consumes his pig, for a lifetime in a gardener. It’s true of you and me at Scotch Hill. Human wisdom and ignorance, frustration and sense of accomplishment, limits and capacities are all reflected year in and year out in our garden, our farm.

Each season, we see a garden’s truths. I see leaf hoppers – which had come to vex me in fields too long in hay – diminish in number, poison fewer plants, as we rotated other crops into those spaces. A high tunnel greenhouse – where we forewent income for a winter’s freezing of Japanese beetles and other pests that had become alarming – displayed similar rewards this week. Where I once killed 30 in minutes, I could find only three in 3 hours.

Mosquitoes and weeds this very wet season endeavor mightily to spoil each reward we see in so many vegetable beds. Yet the funny Burkas, hoods, hats and hankies we don, with much slapping, huffing, puffing and spraying of citronella, help us find comic relief enough to keep going.

Steady hands work as best and long as they can through cloudiness, which gives way eventually to hopeful, relieved hearts each time sunshine breaks through. A little teasing, playful joking and laughing at ourselves. The work keeps getting done, more beautiful vegetables harvested, 6 weeks already past.

 A break in weather last week finally let Micah and me cut much hay. It culminated over the holiday weekend in nearly 900 bales to feed animals, provide fertility, rent land and storage space. Fresh, lush hay gave a boost to dairy goat production. Dela continued making and freezing cheese to share in a regular “thank you” to our vegetable subscribers.

Garden visits have been sparse thus far. Yet one dynamic duo – Nick and Acacia of Monona – worked their wonders July 3rd in a carrot and beet weeding, tomato stringing session with us. So much more gets done in group efforts. We’d love to see you here, too. All types of tasks need volunteers, all week.

Each of you can also help, without even coming to Scotch Hill, by commending our 10-week sign-ups to neighbors, friends, relatives, and co-workers. Many of our supporters come from the word-of-mouth endorsements of our members (you). One 7-year subscriber happily told me last week in Milwaukee that Scotch Hill Farm’s vegetables have gotten better every year.

If you feel that way and can think of someone to join us in the last half of our season, please share a positive review and invitation. Forms are at our website; or we can send them by email attachment, or print some off. Many bills – land rent, property taxes, utilities, etc. – are coming due.   

A caring community, sharing in common all things good for the earth, for this farm – it defines our relationship to this garden, to each other, to our food and health.