A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Motivation, Elusive

The weather this spring has been difficult and frustrating, at best. Summer began officially a couple weeks ago and it just has not felt like it.  We have had huge swings in temperatures and long periods of rain followed by dry times.  There has been no balance and no proper seasonal transition.  The consequences for the garden have been grave.  Much of what I managed to get into the ground rotted before it came up as a result of a wet spell.  Some of what I intended to plant has yet to make it into the ground due to a lack of good weather days when I am not working.  The weeds and grass have virtually consumed large portions of the garden and my young seedlings.  I have replanted some things, such as beans, hoping they will try again, only to be foiled by another wet spell.  Nothing is growing and thriving like it should be at this point in the season.  In fact, many of the local farmers will likely be filing claims on their crop insurance as they have also been unable to work their fields.  It is often said to me that I tend to focus too much on what is not working, not done or what is left to do, rather than focusing on accomplishments and successes attained.  This is true.  I am wallowing in self pity for the lack of garden so far this year.  I find it very hard to spend time in the garden, even on sunny days, given that  much of what I have done has been for naught and the things I continue to do may well also be.  It is simply too late to plant some of my desired fare and I have used all the seeds/plants I had trying the first time or two already this season.  So, rather than continue to ponder what is making me so unmotivated, I will share with you the successes we are seeing, and try to focus on and celebrate the good.
I am conducting an experiment in the garden this year.  Well, truthfully, there are several, but the one to which I am referring is my potatoes in straw.  I have read about potato boxes, growing them in tires stacked and full of soil, and growing them in piles of straw.

The theory is that when the potatoes are ready, you rake away the straw and clean potatoes just fall all over for harvest.  We shall see.  The plants have gotten quite tall and seem to be doing well in their straw home, so time will tell how they produce.  I remain optimistic thus far.

Although I have planted pole beans twice without much success, a few are persevering and beginning to climb their cattle panel archways...  There has been much excitement over their determination and sudden climbing bolt for the sky.

My tomatoes, both those in the pots and those being supported by cattle panels, are developing tomatoes.  This is a real source of pride for me since the vast majority of those tomatoes came from seedlings I raised myself late winter/early spring in the basement.  I love heirloom tomatoes and saving seeds from year to year.  One of my favorites is a variegated tomato with stunning foliage.  Even the tomatoes are striped with variegation until they ripen to a beautiful red.

Another personal success worth noting is that my tomatillos are developing nicely as well.  I purchased seeds, which I misplaced, and never planted them.  In my disappointment, I picked up a few spindly little plants at the garden center and hoped for the best.  They have developed into flourishing plants and are now beginning to fruit.  I have never eaten a tomatillo and will not be trying any fresh, despite growing them.  I am horribly allergic to tomatoes (fresh, not cooked), and am not willing to find out if I am allergic to tomatillos too.  I will be likely making a tomatillo salsa and canning it to try. Soon I will find myself looking for other recipes and ideas as there will be tomatillos to use and share!

As the season goes on, I still find it hard to get into the garden, restricted both by time and a lack of desire.  I lost my fire for it when nature pushed back so hard.  I will continue to focus on what is working and try not to fuss over the weeds and grass that mock me as they steadily take firmer root and attempt to choke my precious food bearing plants.  I am picking away at the weeding one section at a time and trying hard to see the light.  Before I know it, there will be a harvest to be had and in need of preservation and consumption.  With some luck, seeing some fruits of my labor will help motivate me to keep at it.  One day at a time...

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