Yesterday, my final paper of the semester was due at 5 pm. Around 11 am, I decided that I was done. 18ish pages of service learning and writing centers and justice and empowerment. 6 hours early.

I went to the garden. (OMGyouknewiwenttothegardenwhydidieventellyouthat?)

Since this was the first day I shouldn’t have been doing something else, I stayed for awhile. I’ve been in the garden a lot lately, but it’s mostly been trying to keep up with with the spinach/lettuce/herb/chard/kale picking (a blog about what I’ve been doing with that soon, I promise).

My main order of business was weeding. Things from last summer are popping up everywhere. We found a lot of carrots in random places when we planted the spring stuff. We decided to give them a shot; yesterday I dug a few of them up because the stems were getting really big. Though they were larger than any other carrot I’ve tried to grow, they were yellow and gross looking. I’m not sure I understand carrots. There is corn coming up in random places. And I even found red lettuce outside of the plot.

The biggest problem weed-wise is the grass that sneaks in around the edges of the plot. We have mulch-covered pathways around the different plots, but if these aren’t re-covered multiple times a year, the weeds come back. Here’s the process for re-covering the pathway: 1) wait until someone has unloaded free mulch near the entrance of the community garden 2) walk to the edge of the liquor store (Cork & Barrel, from now on out C&B) parking lot where their cardboard dumpsters are 3) open dumpster lid 4) find cardboard for only the coolest brands of liquor 5) look cool and confident as you walk across the parking lot 6) don’t make eye contact with the C&B employees if they are on a smoke break.

It really is unfortunate that our community garden is located next to C&B. It used to be the Merc (for you out of towners, the Merc is a hip organic grocery store). It is mostly unfortunate because: A hip, bike-riding, local food-buying young man would probably be more impressed by a cool girl planting spinach and wielding an awesome water hose than a Vineyard Vines-clad Fratty McFratterson buying a keg at noon on a Monday.  I also think said hip, bike-riding, local food-buying young man would probably think it was endearing when said cool girl turned the water spicket on at one end of the garden, dashed across the garden to her plot on the other end, watered it quickly, and then dashed back and turned it off to keep from wasting water. Seriously, though, look at that picture. It’s a pretty awesome hose. It basically makes rain.

I also took some time to admire everything. Though some of the peas are having trouble catching onto the trellis, as a whole, they look healthy, not that I know what peas are supposed to do. The kale is doing great and one row of spinach is coming in nicely, though the second row never showed up. What we marked as swiss chard also looks good, but it looks more like spinach, not swiss chard. I don’t really know what to do with that. Probably the prettiest thing in the garden right now (second only to the peas) is the purslane, something Amelia wanted to plant. It’s so tiny and intricate and lovely right now.

After I finished, I went home and made myself a completely home/locallygrown & homemade meal: homemade flatbread, homemade quiche with garden greens, and sauteed chard from the garden, sweet potatoes from Grandma P, mushrooms from Farmer’s Market (okay, I didn’t grind the flour, raise the hens, or make the cheese. Give me time).


May 12, 2011

Today was the last day I had to go to class. In my early class, we were supposed to have a (partial) first draft so we could read and give each other feedback. There were also bagels. My draft was 14 pages long, but next Tuesday when I turn it in, it will be longer and better. In my other class (the one that keeps me on campus until 4:15/4:30 but lets me talk about creative nonfiction and see a few special friends), I mostly just had to be there to talk about a book. That story could be a whole blog post in itself, or a book I guess (since it is).

I was real antsy today. It took me about an hour to finish the last 20 pages of that book even though I really liked it (young man + nature + search for identity + a moose killing on June 9th (my birthday) + private journal entries/thoughts +  edible/nonedible wild potato plants). I made it through, though. Somehow.

Tomorrow I see my students all together one last time. I liked them. They were, for the most part, funny and sweet and hard working.

There are still a few things due next week and still a few things (and will be more things) to grade, but I think that I will make it through that too.

Since I was antsy, I gave myself a mini-summer this afternoon. This mostly consisted of going to the garden. I’ve maybe spent more time in the garden than I should have in the last few weeks. I could maybe be done with my paper and my grading if I stopped going to the garden and picking spinach and lettuce.

There is so much food in the garden right now. Today I picked a shopping bag full of spinach and it doesn’t even look like I picked anything. Tomorrow I’m going to try blanching and freezing it (blog to follow). There are also radishes, which I’d never tried. They are cool when they’re ready–you see this little red globe coming out of the dirt. There is also a lot of cilantro–I’ve been making enchiladas with garden ingredients (cilantro, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes from Grandma Pat).

While all the food is exciting, the coolest thing that has happened in the last week is the construction of a trellis for the peas. You weren’t expecting me to build things were you? Me either.

About a month ago, I built my first “trellis” (quotation marks because it was not a trellis.)  The peas need a trellis because they have these cool thin vine-y sprout-y things that they use to attach to other plants/things. Without a trellis, they will grow into one another and then they will just kind of rot. They’re kind of like people. Then the peas grow up the trellis. They need support. For the first “trellis,” I put bamboo sticks into the ground at the end of each row. Then I walked away. I was going to come back and tie rope to them (to make them into an actual trellis and not just bamboo sticks sicking out of the ground) but it was windy and they fell over.

Last week, I (re)built the trellis with friend Justin. Not to discredit Justin’s help, but: Let it be known that I had a plan for the trellis (a plan that I had concocted after looking at other gardeners’ trellises and after drawing a blueprint [sort of] in my ENGL 780 notebook during class). I did not need a boy/guy/male/whatever-word-works-best-here to tell me how to build the trellis or to build it for me. Justin commented on this, and I quote: “[Kara] did most of the work. I just helped [her] hash out the details. And I hit [the trellis] with a hammer.” (I also used the hammer).  It was mostly nice to have company for the trellis building. I think it’s adorable. Aunty Sandy and I once described our garden as something out of Winnie the Pooh; I think this trellis fits.

One week and the peas are bigger and seem happy, though it’s tough to convince them to not cling to each other. One week and it’s still standing. It’s stable.