Harvest Day

Harvest Day
Winter crops

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter into Spring

I don't quite know where January has gone, it seems to have evaporated amid a post-holiday, between-season lethargy that has taken over our house.  Down times are so rare in this life of ours that when opportunity presents itself for some old fashioned laziness, we take full advantage.  Oh, we've stirred around and done a few things, there is never a time that we are completely without chores that must be performed.  But, the period between the last of the fall garden and the hardcore spring and summer planting is a delightful time of few pressing issues.

All good things must eventually end though, and today finds us gearing up in a major way for the upcoming weeks.  Our first Member Work Day of the season is a short 3 days away.  Fedex is due to deliver more than a thousand baby plants today.  There is compost to be spread, driplines to be laid out, the house to be spruced up a bit and what seems like an endless sheaf of notes about what to do next.

I'm really looking forward to our work day on Saturday.  We've done this before and it is always great fun. The members who want to participate show up on Saturday morning, eager for some country air and to get their hands dirty.  We'll try to have things ready for them to go right to work and everyone will stay busy for several hours on their assigned tasks.  There is much laughter, gentle teasing, and always a bit of fumbling around as these hands accustomed to clean, office work remember the feel of a trowel or rake.
When midday rolls around we'll drag all our tables out under the pecan trees, grab chairs from the porches and pull out brown bag lunches and enjoy a leisurely well earned break.  By then, kids are starting to get cranky and some folks begin to pack up for the drive home.  A few hardy souls will no doubt hang around for another work session after lunch and gradually the day will wind down.    Once the members have all left, we'll marvel at their enthusiasm and the amount of work they've saved us.

Hot on the heals of the work day we'll begin preparing potato beds.  I've already purchased the seed potatoes, they are stashed in the foyer beside my seed cabinet, waiting patiently.  Regional wisdom dictates planting potatoes on Valentines Day and we usually try to comply.  A couple of days before planting, I'll take the potatoes out of their burlap bags and cut each one into egg-sized pieces and lay them out on newspapers to dry a bit.  It's an ornery and dirty chore and I rather dislike it but it must be done.  A couple of weeks after the pieces are nestled into the soil of their planting rows, we'll be astonished, as always, by how rapidly they grow, seemingly going from green sprout to robust and surprisingly beautiful plant in a short few days.

We'll begin deliveries for Spring the first week of March and by then we'll have all the tender, early spring crops making a spectacular show in the garden.  The radishes, so humble, are amazingly beautiful in the first warm days, along with arugula, baby turnips, spinach, lettuce, carrots, bok choy, and green onions.  The sugar snaps and snow peas will have scrambled up their trellises and I'll be eagerly searching for their first blossoms.  The beets will have gotten tall and sturdy and the bulbous roots will begin to swell.  And the pear tree will be in spectacular bloom, a huge white cloud alive with honeybees, drunk and frenzied as they gorge on its nectar.  And amid all this beauty, there will be not a single second to spend admiring it all for this is the time of planting for summer.

Tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings will need to be watered and misted daily, beans and corn will need to be seeded along with squash, melons and cucumbers.  Cabbage, brussels sprouts and swiss chard will be well on their way to maturity and late winter weeds will be making a valiant attempt at taking them over.  Will's wheel barrow will make trip after trip to the compost pile, hauling an endless number of loads of the crumbly, black gold to nourish the ground in the gardens.  It will all be so glorious!

But for today, most of it is a dreamlike plan and a pile of lists.  Crop rotations, companion planting notes, seed orders, garden diagrams, and to-do lists.  My clipboard seems to be a part of me and each night before slumber I find myself going through the mental list of it all, reassuring myself repeatedly that I've not forgotten some major task, that all crops have been planned for, and that through the sheer force of determination we will once again pull several tons of top quality nourishment from this little two-acre piece of Georgia dirt.

The last of the broccoli is calling for harvest today and a flat of lettuce plants is bound for the garden this afternoon, so this day's post comes to an end.  I'm ready to get started.

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