Thursday, July 29, 2010

My garden plot

Welcome to Mama's Giardiniera! Thanks for stopping by. We hope you'll enjoy the new place and stop by often. I love exchanging and  sharing gardening tips from other gardeners, so I hope I'll be hearing from some of you.
I begin this blog as part of project #150 and though I really don’t have the time nor the inclination some days to take on more tasks than I already have on my plate, I’ll give it a go.  I can’t say if I’ll even be able to keep up with it, but  wanted a space to catalog the season of gardening here in New England. I already have a cooking blog along with a personal blog--but had no place to keep notes on solely the gardens, so this is how this new blog evolved.

  I've been an avid gardener for many years, owned an herb farm for the past twenty three years where we raised culinary and medicinal herbs along with an honor system vegetable stand. Our  barnyard was a plethora of goats, sheep, chickens and ducks.  The work was hard to say the least, but most fulfilling, probably the most joyous time of my life. Nothing gave me more pleasure than firing up the greenhouse in early February so that I could begin my planting.  Sadly, for medical reasons, we sold our farm early last year and transplanted further north.. along the coast.  At the time I wasn't even sure I'd ever garden again.

Once we were settled in to our new place, I fell into an old pattern of walking daily.  One day as I took a shortcut up from the beach and across the dunes, I found myself in the middle of a land trust and private member community gardens.  Wandering through the gardens, that old itch came back to me, so I made the ususal inquiries only to be told that there was a very long waiting list, but I could apply after they heard my experience as a grower, but they couldn't make any promises.  That was in late summer of 2008.  Somewhere around mid March my phone rang with an offer of my choice!  As luck would have it two plots had become available and was I still interested?  Well, if you are a gardener, you know after a long dreary winter I wasn't about to pass up on this opportunity.  Sight unseen, I made the comittment.  I now was the new tender of two garden plots that hadn't been worked for nearly two years.  When I first arrived at the gardens I was really taken aback at what I found in my plots-- megaweeds, choking vetch, milk weed.. oh the milkweed !  And it was only mid March!  Clearly I knew my work was cut out for me--so after nearly five weeks, my new garden began taking shape.  We decided to do only raided beds.  Some boxes were found under much debris and the rest we built or restored as best we could. New trellis's were built and put in place. A cold frame and small hoop house were added to the garden, but  I really wanted to begin sowing--so after much amendment to the sandy soil here, planting began.

  Last year, my first season, was a wet one--rain, rain, rain for weeks on end as most east coasters recall.  But this year, my second season has been quite the opposite--dry dry days, with little rain.  Spring was a joy this year and my early crop abundant. Spring peas, spinach, purple top turnips, lettuce and greens, greens, greens were plentiful.  Now we fast forward to mid summer-- you know the time-- it's presently squash season.  What do all you gardeners do with so much zucchini, summer squash, cousa squash, & pattypans?  I can't believe I planted this much, nor that my yields would be so great! I share much of what I grow with elder neighbors who are so appreciative of the fresh veggies delivered to their doors, almost daily.  And before we know it, I'll be harvesting tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes along with all kinds of peppers!
  They told me not to go by last years horrid season to judge how my garden will grow under more normal weather conditions in this neck of the woods and so I tried not to be disappointed with the headaches that came along with so much rain.  Slugs and bugs...  early, then followed by the darn late blight.  You name it, we experienced it.  I hate comparing the two very different areas, but on our farm, we found very rich, humusy land vs. coastal sandy plots along with salty, foggy, misty night air.  A very different growing environment completely.  But a challenge that I've taken on and love every minute of it.
In addition to the typical summer veggies, this year I've added a few new items to my plots--I'm trying to grow artichokes, cardoon and  two grape vines (that I have to admit are coming along splendidly. My grapes have already formed and I think I'll yield enough to make a few jars of jam.  All things that are new for me, so it's been great fun watching them come along this season.  A neighboring gardener was kind enough to share a dozen of his luscious raspberry plants with me, so this is also new to the garden this season. He tells me that late next month I'll have plenty of fruits to pick. I can't wait!
The overall farm is a lovely lovely piece of land, a protectory for all living creatures, overlooking the downeast coast. Right now as you look across the farm, you'll be amazed at all the yellows, rusts, golds and greens of hundreds of sunflowers that are presently in bloom.  I was able to capture many shots this sunny week here and put this collage together.   This is a wonderful representation of the farm, and what my garden plots overlook.  The center shot was taken from right in the middle of my garden. The sunflowers from all of our gardens. They are such a cheerful plant--some growing over 14 feet tall!  I just love my view.  It's truly a joy to arrive in the garden in the early morning after my walk and overlook this view.  A field of wildflowers overlooking the beach.

So if you want to brighten someone's day--pick some sunflowers! Til next thyme, happy gardening!