the best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow

our farmer’s market season starts up this coming saturday (we’ll have our earth huggy booth there again this year), so this past weekend we reveled in having nothing in particular planned, and lots of sunshine! for any other farmer’s market aficionados out there with kids, get this book. (quinn says thanks, aunt lau!)

perhaps it goes without saying, but we gravitated towards all things gardeny this weekend. there is a chinese proverb that the best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow. let’s just say the gardener’s shadow did not darken the door of the sewing room this weekend. apparently i’d rather be cultivating weeds (nettle!) and pulling out ivy right now, if it means i get to be outside.

i hauled out all the half rotten pieces of scrap lumber, salvaged nails, and a piece of auto glass i have been hoarding (total cost: $0), and cobbled together a cold frame in a few hours. it’s warmer than the inside of our house, so most of our seedlings now reside there. they may need to move over at night, because i have been thinking i may start sleeping in there. on friday night, quinn reported the best part of his day having been getting to be inside the cold frame.

next, we put in some seed polycultures (mixtures of seedlings that can grow together, instead of standard row crop style) and covered them up, too! we are trying to get a jump on the growing season, but may is predicted to be a bit chillier than average, and we could use the boost for the next month to get our babies on their way. i salvaged some pvc pipe out of someone’s garbage can for the “hoops” of our two new hoop houses, and the plastic came from rolls of fabric i’ve ordered (if you painstakingly remove the tape, you get a nice long tube of plastic, and two pieces taped together will generously cover a small hoop house.)  i didn’t take a good after photo with the plastic stretched tight and fastened in place with (a small fraction of) my (unreasonably large) stash of twist ties. total cost:$0!

one of our polycultures contains carrots, salad greens of about 8 varieties including spicy ones to confuse the slugs, cilantro, dill, parsley, leeks, and probably something else i’m forgetting. this is similar but not identical to what toby hemenway described in his book gaia’s garden: a guide to homescale permaculture in the section on polyculture. (highly recommended reading!) under the other mini hoop house, we put in some seeds for popcorn, kentucky wonder runner beans, and the tiny squash seedling above that we were gifted by friends.  sunflower seeds have been planted along the back of this second hoop house, against the wall of the house, to give the beans (and later, hopefully some cucumbers) more surface area to climb on. the same friend who gave us the squash also graciously parted with two cucumber seeds (i didn’t want to buy a whole packet to only plant two, and we just don’t have room for many cucurbits to sprawl unfortunately.) the cucs are now in some reused, reused seedling containers from babies who have been transplanted.

we took a few brief breaks from gardening… to take care of said friends’ “aminals”. hehe. we also taxed them one egg for our services, which we discovered when we arrived to let the chickens out of their coop in the morning.

it’s such fun to dream of farming with quinn someday, because he is so very much into it- he adores these animals, and couldn’t wait to get out of bed and go tend to them. he took it very seriously, and instructed me on what we needed to do, as he performed each task.

we ate the fresh egg for lunch, along with this fresh bunching onion (don’t get too excited- we planted it last spring) and some fresh homemade goat cheese and fresh chard from our community garden bed. i’m noticing a theme, and liking it very much!

somewhere in the day, we found that baby kitty had killed this little yellow-crowned sparrow, a species which we had just identified together in the sibley book a few days ago. i’ll post more about the observational drawing and further unschooling spin-off moments having to do with life, death, babies in bellies, and the like.

topped off with a scoop of ice cream, it was a terrific weekend!

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