Week 10 (Chicago Week 8)

List of this week's vegetables

  • Three varieties of beans
  • Types of summer squash
  • Bell peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Tomato varieties
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Two melons
  • Box of artisan tomatoes.

Juggling act: Keeping health in balance

With hand and heart, I found farming much as I viewed it from a distance when I merely reported on and wrote about farming. Farming is as often a precarious balancing act, as it is a passionate labor of love.

Using land and caring for land take two sets of skills. Both involve adept juggling of more and more tasks through a season. By season’s (or game’s) end, only very artful and deeply stubborn farmers avoid becoming clobbered by a misstep.

Tasks swirl about us, growing in number with each day in garden and field. Routines of spring are repeated in early summer and sometimes again just before fall. Preparing ground, planting, weeding, tending plants, harvesting..

Every joint of our bodies struggles to keep everything in motion at the same time. One false move and it seems everything will come raining down on our heads. Sometimes it does.

A new wave of direct seeding to cleared garden beds and greenhouse flats began this week. Delashowed Elise how we seed flats with organic potting soil varieties to grow vegetables big enough to transplant. I worked up ground where the first plants this year yielded and died.

From second seed beds and transplants, new cool season crops will be nurtured to replace the next round of harvested plants as they’re harvested. Our spring-like activity contrasts sharply with a landscape covered in the heat of July and August all around us in vast single crops of corn and beans.

Yet even as summer’s bounty yields bell peppers, sweet corn, so many varieties of beans and other mid-season vegetables, we must double crop new varieties and repeat crops through the last half of the season.

This is what keeps you our subscribers fed continuously through fair weather months until frost brings most farming in the north to a dramatic end of the balancing act. Nature takes it from our hands unless we go inside or under plastic cover.   

Barely visible now in the paths between removed and mowed pea vines is mulch. This mulch was mostly from bales of corn stalks, millet and grasses, which I baled with machinery last year. The bales were used to hold up plastic around cool season crops last fall and left outside over winter.

Deteriorated now after being opened and spread upon the ground to shade out weeds between plants, organic matter from the mulch is providing a food to soil life and minerals for new plant starts. Our 50-inch rotivator tilled the rotted mulch back into the soil in two very slow passes.

The soil is just a little cloddy from the downpour of rain the Thursday before last. Yet the rich tilth of the dark soil caught Dela’s eye as she returned from our other fields with Elise. She looked eagerly to planting new crops into the fertile beds.

To a master gardener like Dela or an aging field hand such as myself, the joy of the balancing act is in a fertile, healthful outcome for all of life,

Soil Sister’s Weekend: This weekend’s classes on caring for your skin and baking with health and wholeness are over. They featured our very own soil sisters, Dela, Miranda and Elise. As I write this, friends and family are helping prepare our farm tour today, Sunday. Please join us if you can. Spread the word about our 10-week share, which starts this week, too.