8:30 am. University of Oregon Duck Store. I'm buying two cases of Listo grease pencils for marking flags with planting dates and varieties at the farm. We've tried "permanent" markers (they fade), China pencils (they break), and yellow crayon-like grease markers (they don't show up). Now we have a seemingly endless supply that do the trick.
9:20 am. Strawberry patch. I'm poking around the plants while Michael weed whacks the end of the bed so we can hook up irrigation lines. All three patches have been swallowed up on either side by tall cover crop, and I'd almost forgotten about them. To my delight, they're ripe! I pick one deep red one and pop it into my mouth, stem and all. I almost forget to taste it while I search through the beds, looking to see how many are ready. But then I do, and stand there for a minute, letting that ultra sweet summer flavor sink in. This sensation will keep coming until fall sets in.
9:50 am. Side of Pump House. While David and a new volunteer sift compost for a new batch of potting soil, I'm getting sucked in to sorting trays. After the plant sale and first rounds of field plantings, our storage area for all the potting materials has exploded. I'm in search of a few more trays for corn, but we seem to be out already. Hmph. I stack piles neatly, like with like, unearth hiding stacks, and still no corn trays. We end up using a different style to fill out enough for this planting.
10:05 am. Driveway. Two new volunteers walk up from Pi Kappa Epsilon, a fraternity at UO. "We're here to help!" one explains with a smile. I get them signed in, and they end of harvesting summer squash from the greenhouse with Michael for the morning.
10:45 am. Field Two. I'm on the tractor, tilling in a section that Ted chisel-plowed yesterday to break up the hard pan that forms under the tiller tines. The machine sinks in deeper than it ever could have without that step. It's a relief today, with so much random activity happening, to get on the tractor and just make lines in the earth.
12:23 pm. Field Two. Still tilling. Now I'm hungry and start laughing out loud. I'm on my last pass right up against a bed of peas and luscious heads of red butterhead lettuce on its edges. I lean over the side of the tractor the whole way, watching carefully that the edge of the tiller doesn't destroy any lettuce. About half way down I lose my rhythm and start swerving in slow motion, afraid to get too close to the lettuce, then too far away, and back and forth a few times until I'm slaphappily straight-up laughing at myself.
12:45 pm. Picnic tables. I finally sit down to eat with a small head of that butterhead and a can of tuna. I've been getting into this lunch menu: a head of lettuce (if I'm short on time) or assorted greens (if I'm relaxed) fresh from the fields, topped with dressing and some sort of protein from home. I don't feel bogged down after that kind of lunch, and it actually keeps me fueled for the rest of the afternoon.
1:50 pm. Main orchard. I'm standing in front of almost thirty employees from all the local Key Bank branches. All across the region and country, their branches have closed for the afternoon and employees are out in the community volunteering. They're a jovial group. I show them how to properly thin apples, set them up with scissors and tarps to catch the young fruit, and let them loose on a couple trees. Some get it immediately, and others are hesitant. I rotate between the groups a couple times, checking in with each person to see their work and give feedback. Mostly, to cut more fruit off. It's hard for people to believe they should really chop off twenty little apples from a branch, only leaving a few, but it's what the trees need to produce big, sweet fruit without breaking branches or harboring disease. They get the hang of it.
2:40 pm. Strawberry patch. I'm back, showing UO Duck Corps volunteers the color difference between a fully ripe and ripe-enough-to-pick strawberry. It's subtle, and most of the Key Bank volunteers out here are going too hard on them, picking fruit with light pink or white spots. At least they're leaving the stems nice and short. We'll save enough for volunteers and for the Youth Farmers to take home on Saturday, and any extras will go to the food bank.
4:05 pm. Farm stand. David's having his second turn at vacuum-seeding a round of lettuce, this time with turnips, cabbage, and cauliflower as well. Volunteers have finished hand-seeding the spinach, corn, cucumbers, summer squash, and beets for the day, and we're just trying to finish everything up. He's getting the hang of it, and is excited to get into the Brassicas, which work perfectly and easily with the machine because of their size and round shape. I snap a couple photos while he dances with the vacuum tray to guide all the little seeds to their holes. One of David's best skills is making fun of work!
4:50 pm. Field two. I'm walking out to ask Ted a question, and find 19 beds shaped and nearly ready to transplant past the greenhouses. It's the whole remainder of this field (minus the short beds behind the high tunnels). The rest of Field One is ready for potatoes, too. We're doing it. May transplanting extravaganza is about to continue.
5:30 pm. The Kale Bed. It's been off the hook for two weeks now. I pluck another quick armload on my way out. No biggie.
7:55 pm. Whiteaker Community Garden. I've ridden my hike home, eaten a quick dinner, and ventured out again with a new watering timer and two lavender plants. It's breezy and cooling down fast as the sun sets. I'm in my little garden plot that I prepared this weekend, testing the irrigation lines before I plug in any plants. It works well enough after I cap the end of one of the drip lines, and I get to planting. Two lavenders in the bed with the other perennials I brought in early spring, a few baby rhubarb that will need at least a season to size up, several chamomile and red clover next to the same plants that managed to overwinter, and a small patch of calendula. My plot neighbor is watering his plants nearby, and he asks if I'm planting herbs again this year. I sigh. The idea of harvesting tiny blossoms for hours every week after work is exhausting to even think about. "Yes, but less this year," I reply. "I'm trying to focus more on perennials that need less attention."
But they'll all get the attention they need. That's been part of why I'm not in a hurry to plant out again, I suppose: once they're in, I'm committed. I'll be here on a regular basis now. The idea of which, when I look out over my plot and hear other gardeners puttering away in theirs, grows on me pretty darn easily.