Wednesday, July 16

Sabbatical Garden

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.                             
-Marcus Tullius Cicero
I have decided to reframe this past year and have declared it to have actually been an unexpected sabbatical. And because every sabbatical needs a purposeful project, I believe that we can claim our vegetable garden as such. It was and continues to be an experiment in self-sufficiency, botany, chemistry, and even perhaps spirituality (if you count singing to your plants a form of prayer, as I do). 
This morning I was looking at the scene below and felt a surge of pride at our little vegetable patch. Our garden has been the manifestation of the one word we decided to work on for this year: tenacity. We have learned that just because something looks like a withered brown stick or a piece of wet tissue paper does not mean it is dead. In fact, patience and love do triumph in the end. This may seem commonsense to my wise readers but for me who is always ready to jump instead of to sit still, it has been a very valuable lesson to glean from my sabbatical.
Anyway, without further ado, let me show you around our garden, as it is now in mid-July. 

We chose the backyard instead of the original garden space in the front of the property because:  
 a. it's easier to keep an eye on the kids and b. it's rather gorgeous.
White and yellow Italian strawberries, grown from seed. It took them forever to get beyond the little sprout stage but here they are, looking rather lush.

Our okra forest.

Sorry for the blurriness. We have two types: Alabama red (seen here) and Star of David.

An okra blossom. I did not know this until I grew okra but essentially the okra is the blossom, curled up. Something quite lovely about that besides for being such a delicious vegetable. 

Eggplant patch. 
Edirne striped eggplant. 

Asian eggplant.


Moon and stars watermelon. 

Tomato forest. About 50 plants with a mixture of black plum and purple Cherokee. We are harvesting at least a quart of tomatoes everyday now.

Pepper patch.

Chocolate bell peppers. They will turn a purplish brown and be rather sweet.

Wenk's yellow hot pepper. Mildly hot. 

Italian cowpeas. They are finally getting the hang of the trellis. 

Japanese climbing cucumber. Currently the caterpillars are feasting on this luscious vine but it is a determined plant.

Colette's sesame plants. We actually have a row of these at the back of the garden that are still only a tenth of this size. Colette planted these when she was helping in the garden and did her part to water them everyday. That girl has quite the green thumb, ne?

Okay, so it is hard to see the veggies for the weeds here but this is our green onion patch. It is quite prolific despite the weeds and has been our source of negi goodness for a few months now.

The fields of greens. Well, this was our greens patch, kale, mizuna, rainbow chard, and collards. Until June we were eating salads with every meal but they could not survive the 97 degree days. The collards are actually still trucking and there are some experimental edamae and shallots buried in there.

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. -A.A. Milne
Since we have sandy soil, we found that most of the weeds are helping the garden. They also attract pollinators so frankly, I am fond of the weeds. Even the stinging nettles that I despised as a barefoot child are welcomed in our garden.

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