Gardening In Between Times

Blue Wind Broccoli

June’s last day marks the beginning of my hiatus from farm work.

The orchard’s chief apple officer confirmed they need me in the sales barn this year. My manager emailed me back to set a starting date. Apple season is set and I can focus on other things in July.

For the first time this year I made a “project run” to the commercial center in Coralville. I picked up a replacement faucet handle, a new light/vent fan part for a bathroom, some topsoil and grass seed to fill in the depression over the septic tank, a new bird feeder and a shepherd’s hook, and eight more 6-foot stakes to protect tomatoes from deer. I hope there will be more trips like that.

Weeding the garden is a never-ending task. I focused on the plot with beans and a variety of crops. Even the parsley seeds sprouted and I removed competition so they will grow to maturity. I saw several Japanese beetles in the basil so I harvested the big leaves. I also harvested kale, broccoli, green onions, radishes, parsley, beets and sugar snap peas. The ice box is crammed with containers of fresh greens and other vegetables. With my spouse visiting her sister for a few days I will be eating a lot of greens for a while.

I planted Table Queen Acorn squash (Ferry – Morse, 75 days) and Honey Bear Acorn squash (Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 85 days) in newly claimed space. Acorn is our favorite winter squash so here’s hoping they succeed.

The lawn was a field of clover which I harvested with my John Deere mower and grass catcher. Rabbits will find something else to eat, hopefully not my garden. I piled the clippings in the transition space near three oak trees I planted from acorns and will decide which vegetables get protection next. When weather turns hot, the lawn doesn’t produce as much, so it will be a couple of mowings before the garden is fully mulched.

My clothing was drenched with sweat by the time I finished the lawn. I hung my t-shirt and jeans to dry, took a shower, and focused on kitchen work the rest of the day. Processing today’s harvest took the most time.

I like this in between time for a lot of reasons. It’s a chance to let the dust of the first half year settle and figure out what is most important to sustaining a life in a turbulent world. Just like weeding, the non-productive energy-suckers need to be removed to free up what’s most valuable.

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