Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grow, Baby, Grow!

I can show you a picture of my gardens completely planted, but you know, it's not very interesting, because I mostly planted seeds! I just walk out there in the mornings to water them and tell them to,”Grow, grow, grow! Make my food!” Yes, I talk to plants, but only when no one over three years old is around!
I've planted tomatoes, basil, cilantro, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers (a first for me!), carrots, lettuce, spinach, okra (another first), parsley, lemon balm, green beans, butternut squash, watermelon, and sweet corn. I'm trying the “three sisters” approach for the corn. Planting them with beans and squash. The idea is that the corn is a trellis for the beans to climb, and the squash provides shade for the roots of the corn. The beans do the nitrogen fixing for the corn, and the squash and beans growing together supposedly confuse pests... we'll see! It's the sort of companion planting that's been done for thousands of years by Native Americans... except I left out the dead fish under every corn seed, not having any fish at hand. Plus, in theory, all those roots and leaves help deter soil erosion which is a problem with corn. A benefit to raising your own food by hand instead of letting big farms with big machines do it, perhaps?
Gardening inspires a lot of the same emotions in me that having a new baby does. I murmur and pet and fuss over each emerging sprout like it's my new baby. Yeah, OK, that's kind of weird. But there's a lot of satisfaction and warm fuzzies that can be derived from “raising” stuff. Hard work resulting in a good harvest is very good for the soul. In the square foot gardening method, you prune your vining plants to one main stem, which is really hard to do, because you think: more stems, more food. Supposedly, pruning those stems to one, and weaving that one stem up and down a trellis allows you to get a lot more food from a lot less space. Then, when the season winds to a close, you cut off the end of that one stem and it's supposed to help the fruit to ripen in a timely manner. I've no experience with this, however, it's all stuff from books I've read, and probably confused in my mind! All this pruning reminds me of training children to behave well! One does a lot of nipping behavior in the bud, hoping it will help the child “bear better fruit” later. Of course, the raising of children takes much longer than tomatoes, so one must just have faith that those that have done it before know what they're talking about.
Grow, baby, grow! Make good fruit! Be healthy! Grow tall and strong! Be productive!
Gardeners and mothers have a lot in common.

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