Harvest Day

Harvest Day
Winter crops

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Zen of Seeds

Farming is all about planning.  Of course, many of our plans never are played out--something always seems to happen to derail our well-thought-out plan and well, there you go.  But it is a necessary part of this game, otherwise you're out of business pretty quickly.  Right now I'm in the midst of planning for Fall.

Today I began my Fall planting.  After several days of preparations--mixing soil, gathering tools, looking over my seed inventory--I finally got some seeds into some dirt.  Yay!  

I've discovered this wonderful method of starting seedlings.  Originating in Great Britain, soil blockers are an Earth-friendly approach to this age old process.  A couple of years ago I purchased a soil blocker, which is a device that makes 2 inch cubes of compressed potting soil.  One sows a seed or two into each block and cares for it lovingly for several weeks before setting it into its permanent home in the garden.  No container needed.  No plastic to recycle or (worse yet) send to the landfill.  No transplant shock when the young plant is set out.  What a great system!

Year before last I constructed a seedling rack.  Basically, it is a wooden shelf unit with fluorescent light fixtures attached to the underside of each shelf.  I can start more than 500 plants at a time this way.  The seedlings are always sturdy and strong, and it isn't very much trouble to care for them as they grow.  

But the biggest part of this is the thrill I get when I get those first seeds planted for a new season.  Even though we have a few weeks left to finish our Summer season, it feels good to be starting on Fall.  I never tire of putting seeds into dirt and I'm not over my amazement that a tiny seed, about the size of a large grain of sand, will yield several pounds or more of truly top quality nutrition.  I get all excited when the little seedlings break through the soil surface, I watch eagerly day to day as these minuscule plants develop and grow, I worry about them when I'm away from them.  And I never get tired of it.

As I'm planting my soil blocks, dropping cabbage seeds into the little dimple on top of each block, I am visualizing the Fall garden. Deep blue skies above, soft chilly breeze blowing all about, and long straight rows of beautiful cabbages, some red and some green.  There are cabbages that are very round, some that are flattened balls, and some that have pointy heads.  And then on to the broccoli seeds, the collards, the cauliflower.  In a few short weeks I'll be starting lettuce this way.

The endless cycle of planting, nurturing, and harvesting is one of the constants in my life.  I can measure my months by the crops I'm thinking of.  When I was an active, working artist I used to laugh at myself.  If someone asked me which of my paintings was my favorite, the answer would always be "my most recent work."  And so it is in the garden.  We have the most beautiful eggplants I've ever seen right now and it is a sight to behold when they are  picked each week, but that seems like old business right now.  What I'm REALLY excited about is broccoli...

No comments:

Post a Comment