Gardening is an Act of Faith

It’s been a LONG time since I had my very own garden. It’s not like I was ever a prolific gardener but the last time was in the 1990s when I moved to Forest Heights MD and started my first real garden. My then 4-year-old son would steel the cucumbers right off the vine. My second (and last) productive garden was in Fort Washington MD where I fell in love with fresh peas and corn. They never made it to any pot of mine. Ate them raw from the vine. It’s been way too long! Needless to say, I’m so freakin’ excited to get my garden at SpitFire Hollow underway. There’s so much to do. It is certainly an exercise in awareness and being present.

Being new to this land, I need to observe the sun’s pattern, study tracks to determine what wildlife frequents the joint, test and amend my soil. Still, with all this tutelage coming straight from Mother Nature, there’s no guarantee what will grow here. I’ve concluded:

Gardening is an act of faith!

And a lot of hard work! Thanks to my daughters who were here this weekend. We’ve started more seeds, pulled out the weeds from the asparagus bed, pruned the lilac and crab apple bushes, planted the garlic, potatoes and onions, hung grow lights, strengthened the front gate and even set up the mushroom patch.

So in faith, I hope to produce: corn, peas, Brussel sprouts, kale, 2 types of artichokes, cherry tomatoes, okra, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, butternut, cantaloupe, watermelon, leeks, chamomile, cilantro, stevia, dill, basil, rosemary, sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, onions, garlic, asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranates, Meyer lemons, limes, pears, peaches, figs, pumpkins, celery, green beans, radishes, carrots, sunflowers, black walnuts, peppers, wildflowers, sage, wormwood, lilacs, and um, I think that’s it. Oh yeah, can’t forget the maple syrup I’ve already harvested!

The Mushroom Patch: After reading an article in the April/May 2019 Mother Earth News, I decided to go with the “log raft cultivation” for my mushroom patch. I’ve built up a slight platform using pine pellets (store didn’t have sawdust) and layered my logs on top. Logs are then covered and surrounded with leaves or mulch - here I used the wet leaves that have been on my ground since Autumn. Still have about 3 more logs to inoculate before I’d say “enough” for this season anyway. Patch is complete.

It even has it’s own wood-burnt sign I crafted from scraps to keep folks aware of where they’re stepping (or perhaps to remind me where I put it?)! Unfortunately my feline beast had no problems finding it.

Still, whatever produce I glean from my garden, it’s just the beginning. There’s the new tasks of preserving and setting seed aside after the harvest. There’s the sharing and feasting - my favorite opportunity to draw family and neighbors closer.

It is still my goal to add livestock this year - starting with ducks and/or chickens for the eggs and (MAYBE) meat. Much depends upon work (seeking local work that offers a living wage, enjoyment and community, and not taking up my entire day). Here is the only category that has come up deficient since my move. Even with all the wonderful benefits and beauties I’ve gained by moving the SpitFire Hollow, local work is critical. Finding it may prove to be the most difficult task thus far!

I review this post with such joy in my heart. I don’t come from a long line of gardeners that I know of. My mother didn’t really garden. Whatever she had, my grandfather provided. In fact, on my Italian side of the family, I think it was only the men who gardened. But, for sure, my Poppa was the only gardener I can remember. He was a magical man, capable of every challenge put in front of him. Kind and gentle with the land and its beasts. A force to be reckoned with if you crossed him. Not perfect. In fact, his racial prejudices hurt me personally but I still loved him because, like most people, he was vast and more than his flaws. My family circle is VERY small but of those I had contact with, I am proudly most like poppa.