farming, Uncategorized

In the Garden

We had quite the storm Thursday night, one of the worst since I have been here. It woke me up around 3, I could hear the wind driving the rain against the window, and the lightning almost looked like a strobe. When the sun finally came up, some of my pepper plants were almost lying flat on the ground. Several stalks of corn had tipped over, so did the squash and zucchini plants. Their leaves are so big now, I’m a little surprised the roots held.

But we definitely needed the rain. The next morning it was cool and breezy, such a wonderful break from the humidity. The ground was still wet, I went out into the garden and poked around, piling dirt back around roots and stalks. We have a few baby green tomatoes, but not much else yet. Once it starts, it will be a stream of veggies all summer.

Next year, I’d like to plant several rows of field corn for the pigs. Even now, I think they will get much of what Sadie and I can’t eat in time. They have already doubled in size, and have appetites like you wouldn’t believe. Well, maybe you can. There’s a reason they say ‘eat like a pig’ !

When I got home from work yesterday I let the hens out, it was still warm by 5:30 but they had been up since Wednesday. I threw some young apples to the pullets and the pigs, they are too tart for me to eat, Sadie calls them “jaw lockin'” and she’s exactly right. Casey and Abbie kept me company in the yard and I couldn’t help but go back to the garden.

It is much easier to pull weeds when the ground is soft, I worked between the rows for a while, tying a few tomato stalks as I went. The garden is such a peaceful place, it’s a wonderful way to let your mind go, to unwind and focus on what your hands are doing. I know you can get everything at the store, and it is definitely easier. But there’s something magical about growing and tending your own.

I would be lying if I said our home-grown veggies tasted the same as something organic from somewhere else. They taste way better. They taste like all the cool mornings, hot days, rainy nights and long evenings spent between the rows. The bugs, the dirt, the weeds and thorns. They taste like sweat and mountain air, crisp and fresh with maybe a little grit somewhere in there.

It’s a piece of you, it’s planning and planting seeds smaller than a breath mint, then taking care that they have sun, water, fertilizer and enough space to grow. And boy will they grow! The corn has reached beyond my height, and the beans have already climbed the string we tied over them. The roots go deep, and the stalks grow high. Then one day you look out and there’s a tomato, a pepper, a cucumber, ready to be picked, washed and eaten. It’s amazing, absolutely unfathomable.

Did I mention it’s also delicious? We will can tomatoes, green beans, the zucchini, the okra and corn we will freeze, the potatoes will be cooked and eaten in every way imaginable, the squash will go over pasta and in casserole. The cucumbers will go into salads, and into jars to become pickles. The peppers I slice and eat, but some may make it to pizza or chicken salad. I can hardly wait – I’m making myself hungry thinking about it.
Part of me gets so excited, I want to till up the whole front yard and sow seed, to move the horses and have an entire pasture of corn to run through, to listen to in the wind. We’re not quite there yet, but maybe one day. And I know those crops will taste as good as our little garden will. Little seedlings we can watch grow until they are ready to be picked and eaten. And every night, walking back to the house with tomato juice running down my chin and my arms full of hickory king corn.

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