Back to Clio’s Garden

Its been a long time since I wrote in this blog….the world was too much with me and other members of my family…but I am back with my fingers tickling the keys.

I have not been idle, however. Eric and I have been ramping up our gardens as we defeat those vicissitudes and we planted as much of our garden as we could. We have been working on renewing a large garden by our willow that years ago we tried to grow raspberries in…they hated it. (Later I heeled in some raspberries in the grape garden and they loved it and have to be hacked down all the time but that is another story). We left the willow garden to the weeds and a fine crop of thistles grew there which alerted us to our foolish neglect. Two years ago we planted beans there and were delighted that the actually grew. This year, after amending the soil using what we call ‘nutrient density protocals’ we planted some squashes. OMG, as they say. The vines reminded me of that old story’ “The Quick Running Squash” and the picture of the boy  atop the huge squash as it took off down the road trailing its vine behind, heading for who knows where. ( MyBook House books, edited by Olive Beaupre Miller).  We grew Waltham butternut and they were shockingly huge: twenty inches and ten or more pounds. Altogether we grew five hundred pounds of squash. Friends, family, Loaves and Fishes, its their duty to consume.

I buy onion plants from a place in Texas (Dixondale) because I run out of space for my seedlings and….gosh, its just so easy. This year I planted red candy ball, which are sweet enough to eat like an apple but don’t keep, Alisa Craig which are huge, sweet and don’t keep but very yummy, white cippolini and red cippolini which sometimes keep and my all time favorite, copra….which keep until Kingdom Come.  In the past my largest copras were the size of baseballs but this year they were the size of softballs. I have never seen the like. Four and a half bushes resulted and reminded me once again of the willing partner Mother Nature is if one treats her well.

We had drought conditions this summer past and because we have a well we could water as much as needed. I think those onions liked the dryer conditions and the deep watering. But they also liked the amended soil. This is something that is quickly gaining acceptance in the farming and gardening world. There are certain strains of bacteria and fungi that, when added to soil, are symbiotic with most plants. (Cole crops, broccoli and the like, don’t react with them). Simply put, the fungi form mats which connect directly, and sometimes within, the roots of plants. Plant roots can grow just so far and fast but when the fungi attatch to them the plant receives nutrients from the soil beyond their reach. At the same time, the plant is collecting nitrogen and carbon from the air and sending nutrients down into the soil.

I just finished reading, “Teeming With  Microbes”, (Lowenfels and Lewis) and it is a short course on what is happening beneath our feet. I also recommend, “The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Acheivements of Earthworms”, (Amy Stewart), which I am reading now. In the world under our feet earthworms are giants, one could think of them as huge whales burrowing through the earth. And, if you have the patience for it I recommend reading Charles Darwin’s book on earthworms, “The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms With Observations on Their Habits”. Why patience? Because he describes all of his years long experiments in great detail but I assure you, for the fastinated it is a compelling read.

Here is an image for you that will turn your head around….plants have their heads in the ground and their, well, their regenerative organs in the air. When you look at pretty flowers you are actually looking at…how to put this…ah!…their privates! Think on that the next time you stick your nose into a fragrant rose.

And with that shocking revelation I shall close, because this missive is just to get in touch with all of you again. Eric and I are attending the Bionutrient Food Association sponsored Soil and Nutrition Conference at Kirpalu in the Berkshires in the first week of December. I’ll write some about that and perhaps entice you to attend the next one.    And, to come, some information about the Grange and its activities.


About Clio

I am an organic gardener with thirty years experience, a former minister, a former home-schooler, (they grew up), a current clarinet and flute player, knitter and spinner, and swimmer. I am interested in food security issues, food and policy issues, food preservation and encouraging people to become more aware and pro-active about their own food supply. I teach home food preservation, especially water bath and pressure canning, beginning organic gardening using bio-intensive methods, and give talks on food and food security for groups.
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