Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thinning beets, Cucumber Beetles, Harvesting the First Summer squash

As I am thinning in the garden, I am contemplating life. Thinning plants happens once the seedlings get there true leaves, which is between 2-3 weeks. When I plant by seed, like my beets for example, many more plants come up in my row than I need. I have to thin these seedlings and only keep one plant every certain number of inches. My carrots are thinned to two inches apart between plants, versus my beans which are thinned to eight inches apart between plants. I am selecting plants and making decisions for what will grow. I think about this a lot, as I have thinned many of plants this season in my garden - turnips, beets, carrots, daikon radish, beans, basil, cilantro, calendula, nasturtium, spinach, kale. I hold the intention that the plants and the place have already decided this for me, in which case the plants that I chose have already chosen themselves. But I go through with my measuring tape or my hand length, and I pick a plant at every interval. I tell myself to have no dought, have only positive thoughts that this plant will prosper and yield a bountiful harvest. I am learning to trust my instinct. So far, so good, in the garden.
 One of my beds - beets in the back, carrots in the front

You might say this is a lot to think about when gardening, but the intention of my garden is not just to learn, it is my sustenance. I am growing food so that I do not have to buy food from somewhere else. I look at this challenge as survival, and I am grateful that if everything in my garden fails I can rely on someone else's garden for food. In the future, we might not be able to do that, but right now in this moment, we can. I am a planner. I have planned out this garden and know how we will be preserving everything it produces. We have a share with the organic vegetable farm down the road, Caretaker Farm. We trade raw milk for vegetables. The purpose for my garden is to preserve, so that we will have all the food we need over the winter and we will not have to buy it from the store. We will be canning, pickling, freezing, dehydrating, and cold storing.

The first heirloom summer squash, zephyr

The very first winter squash, delicata!

I do want to stress though that I am in this garden to learn, and learning I am. I am learning to trust bugs. I am learning to trust that even though I have cucumber beetles and flea beetles in my garden, they won't prevent me from having a harvest. We are sharing. The beetles eat a little bit of my squash, bean, and cucumber leaves, and I still get squash, beans, and cucumbers. I am learning that we can live together. In the past I have battled slugs, but I have always lost. Last year at GeerCrest Farm, for example, the slugs ate every single one of the first succession of broccoli plants that I grew in the greenhouse and then transplanted outside. I am very content with taking a break from the Pacific Northwest rain and their slugs. Here, I have a few slugs and a few snails in the garden, but they are not damaging much of anything. And I am taking the example from Caretaker Farm down the road, and learning how they deal with pests. They live with them too. This approach is comforting. I don't have to think about what kinds of organic pest management techniques I have to use. Just plain old fashioned hand picking and soapy water. Overwhelmingly, they are everywhere working on making holes in leaves, but I have started to harvest cucumbers and squash. Its all good. Lessons from this year's garden will stick with me forever.

A baby cucumber 

 My first batch of pickles from the garden, lacto-fermenting

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