Preparing for squash

Preparing for squash

It sounded so easy: "Transplant the winter squash."  They've been ready for a week or two already, so what's the big deal?  Just pop 'em in the ground.  

After a full week of trying to get such a seemingly simple project done, I am humbled.  Yes, amazed by how much zucchini is coming out of the fields, dumbfounded by how fast weeds are growing, impressed by the skill and pace of all the interns, and surprised by how much time irrigation management takes.  But mostly, I am humbled by this project that's not even close to done on the eve of our last chance for the week.

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Garden symphylans

Garden symphylans

Our visible achievements always get the glory and recognition, but for me the invisible is just as important.  And for all the conversations about life, learning about plants, skill-building and muscle memory developing in everyone's bodies and minds, I leave the week with persnickety obsession with what we have yet to accomplish.  It's such a relief to look backwards, see what we've done, hear feedback from people about how they've grown.  Maybe even more than the plants have.

Sometimes, that growth is wildly uneven.  We grow and learn only because the plants don't thrive as expected.  Take the first round of spinach from the greenhouse. 

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Winter's passed

Winter's passed

I think we made it.  Through winter.  I mean, I don't think it's coming back.  It hit me, not earlier this week when I was sweating in a T-shirt or burning the back of my neck in the summery sunshine.  It hit me this evening, when I was walking my friend's dogs in Westmoreland Park, looking toward a rainbow stretching up from a field of camas and buttercup, realizing I was wearing only a thin sweatshirt a few hours after a thunderous downpour.  Just a few weeks ago, such a rain would have chilled me to the bone.  There wouldn't have been any tulips to catch those droplets, or steam swimming up off the freshly tilled fields as the sun shone through the thunderheads.  There's still a couple weeks until the average last frost date here, but this feeling of relief-- six months in the making-- is too great to let that sway me.  Winter's passed, I say!  We made it.

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Field walk

Field walk

For the first time this year, Ted and I walked the fields together.  In my focus on all the seedlings and greenhouses, I'd almost forgotten the acres surrounding them, patiently braced against winter.  There's an old adage that the best fertilizer is a farmer's footprints- or something like that- and it always turns out true.  Even when there's not loads to do out there, making regular observations inevitably turns up new developments, new projects that need attending, new pest or disease or irrigation problems that need solving. 

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