Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


“You don’t go into farming for the money. You must have something in your heart and keep at it. You have to love the land.
Shorter, Alabama farmer Al Hooks, after being fucked by the United States Government

These are tough times for the poor and the marginalized. For the unrepresented and the down-trodden. For those who are alone or abandoned. But dreams die hard.
The robins are back. I moved some landscape fabric the other day and then watched the night crawlers and the rolly pollys that had been exposed underneath. The trees are starting to bud, ever so slightly. I walked the deer fence up on the ridge yesterday, and thought about the bloodroot that grows on that hillside in summer. Seeds are ordered and plastic trays are organized. I'm about to fire this thing up once again, and there's nothing that can stop me. The sight of the robins on the field in February is enough to make me put up with everything else that falls upon me through the course of a year. Communion with the bloodroot offsets the poverty and the hardship. The promise in the green of a newly sprouted seed is enough to get me to spend twelve straight hours in a cold greenhouse.
... a leaf of grass in no less than the journey-work of the stars. Whitman
I get hit and hit hard by no dearth of tribulations. But I continue. I am sustained by the sight of rows of trays in a greenhouse, or the feel of a hoe underneath ragweed, or the smell of diesel, or the stick and the grit of tomato sap, and I know not why. This is what I do, and I'm doing it again. I fix things that are broken and I pick up things that fall down. It's hard. I don't have it as hard as some. I keep at it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Little Blue Flowers in the Upper Field, But Still I Worry

It didn’t take long. The morning started off fair and warm, the first time in weeks, and the bees left their hives as soon as the sun stirred them from their sleep. There’s the tiniest bit of chickweed mixed in with the rye, the faintest promise of Spring after days and days of constant flurries.
The bees have been through hell this winter, all because of my own lame-ass management, and they have proven themselves to be survivors. The lids of two of the hives blew off when I was in Texas – oh, that’s why the old-timers put cinder blocks on top of their hives – and the soil got too wet and soft under one last week when I was on the Outer Banks and it tilted over. They were all clustered inside when I got back. Sideways and no doubt confused, but all there and in a tight little cluster. They all might make it through the winter yet if I don’t screw up anything else.
These are tough times for bees, and they don’t need me making it any tougher for them. There are mites and viruses and unknown metaphysical syndromes lurking everywhere, wiping out entire colonies left and right and leaving the rest frightened. Winter is hardest for them, but the days are getting longer and the plants are coming back to life. The forecast is for another few warm days, and they’ll get to spread their wings a few more times. The queens will start laying soon. We’re not through this long cold winter yet, but the end is in sight.
Stay tuned for more exciting news from the world of Apis melliflora!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We Won't Be Growing Perilla After All

The snow on the landscape notwithstanding, we're geared up for another season. Goals are small for this year. We're making a conservative effort at conservative results, with the idea of just keeping our heads above water for one more year. Recent events have knocked us back about five years, and production goals are back to where the were five years ago.
We're limiting the fields to what we know works, an austerity measure that while making for rather dull fields should allow us to regroup from recent set-backs.
The greenhouses are a bit late getting fired up, and the seeds are a bit late getting started, but I've been a migrant worker lately. I've been on the eastern edge of the continent, working at various tasks that are (slowly) refilling the coffers. All the while contemplating the perennial issue, the dilemma I manage to duck every year: is any of this even possible? A sustainable organic farm? C'mon.
We've dodged fate for many years now, and kept the illusion somewhat believable, but the clock is ticking. It's moments to midnight, the palace is miles away and there's not a pumpkin chariot in sight. I fully expect to dive across the threshold in the nick of time, I'm just not quite sure how I'm going to get there.

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