around the farm

we’ve been celebrating rich’s daughter’s graduation this past week, and had gorgeous weather in which to put family members to work in the garden. 😉 rich’s parents visited for a week and helped us clear the way for digging the second half of the garden. i had hacked down the salmonberry in very early spring, and left it laying in place while the rain pelted down (hoping to slow down erosion) and rich had pruned a lot of the lower branches from the hemlock trees at the north end of the garden. removing that pile of debris took the four of us a couple of hours. it would have taken me all day by myself so i was grateful for the help!

i took a picture from an upstairs window, once the second half was cleared, but before i dug it. (the wheelbarrow is in the second, newly-cleared section.)

in the first half (where the spiral bed was already shaped), the clover i planted in the pathways is sprouting. i’m going for “living mulch” that adds nitrogen to the soil, as well as groundcover so i don’t have to weed the pathways.

hardy early birds like arugula, radishes, and kales are sprouting in the beds, and the leek and onion starts seem happy, in spite of a late frost on may 10th! (i objected to the frost, but apparently i was not in charge. luckily i haven’t planted out anything that couldn’t handle a little cold.) peas, daikon, and a hugelkultur bed full of potatoes shrugged off the frost easily enough, in spite of my fretting.

but that’s the way it goes in gardening anyway. i love the spiral that is built right into this garden because spirals have always been symbolic for me. i wore a spiral necklace while i was overdue-ly pregnant and while quinn was an infant, it felt just right for that time in my life of birth. but of course birth and new beginnings are only one part of the spiral, and death is always around the corner. i am not trying to be morbid, it’s just on my mind because i have just lost my kitty. but also because the garden has me always mindful that quite a lot of things don’t make it. we all eventually make the long journey. we do our best to nurture and baby things along while they are here, but death sweeps along in its inexorable way.

it just makes me want to be even more tied to the earth, and grounded in this rich goodness. so i spent my mother’s day digging salmonberry roots out of the second half of the garden, and wouldn’t have had it any other way. walking the spiral to deposit another batch of mulch material became a sort of meditation, as i pondered the new guardian spirit kitty warrior at the corner of the garden.

her body is there, under that peach-or-plum tree quinn and i began growing from a pit when he was 2 years old and kitty was still primarily his nap guardian and my gardening dreams were a twinkle in my eye (and peach-or-plum pits in some pots). i can imagine her spirit sprawled there beneath the tree in the lemon balm, alongside the angelica, kitty angel that she is, while her body turns back into the earth below, quite literally pushing up the daisies we salvaged from the sod we dug for her corner bed.

quinn spent mother’s day working away on his all-day chosen activity of dinosaur coloring. i set him up at the picnic table, halfway between my all-day dig, and rich’s all-day burning brush pile. we do not lack focus in this family!

this is a fresh yesterday afternoon photo, taken after i spent my day digging and raking and shaping. i even got some more potatoes planted in one section (with beans, flax, and horseradish), as well as a few lettuce and kale starts transplanted into the second half of the spiral. i’d like to have it full of planted things by the time the rain comes back next week to really soak them all in.

walking around in the first half, shooting those pea-potato-daikon photos, i noticed that everywhere i mixed in what i thought was “finished” compost from last year, tomato and mustard green volunteers abound. life, continuing to spiral onward, in its inexorable way.


9 comments to around the farm

  • Lb

    Poor Baby Kitty 🙁 I'm very sorry to hear you lost a friend- I know it's not easy. Your garden is gorgeous!!

  • crystal

    I am so envious of the spiral! Wonder if I can get that effect for grains around the pond area?

    • marybethrew

      that would be awesome! i know there are people who don't like fancy patterns, believing that straight rows are more efficient, and there are things that are harder- dragging a watering hose along a spiral is a bit different than dragging it down a straight row, for instance. but i think in some applications (like, hmm, right next to a water source like a pond…) it could be really cool on even larger scales like yours. 🙂

  • Tim

    oh, i hadn't heard about baby kitty. i'm sorry to hear about that but i liked what you had to say about the cycle of life and whatnot. you may have heard that we got a new kitten when we visited fesko farms (of such library video fame as fixin' on the farm, winter on the farm, summer on the farm, babies and birth on the farm, etc. etc. etc.) his name is brick (after (b)rick fesko, who before his untimely death in a farming accident last year was in charge of the farm. he's orange and fluffy with blue eyes like his new mommy carl. so now we've got kitties in all different parts of the cycle of life. talan isn't a big fan of the last part of the cycle yet, but he deals with it by being brick fesko all the time and having every story be about brick and chris (rick's wife and creator of all the videos, who we saw at her discovery barn on saturday). and tractor fires. he turns oliver's library book about "little quack's opposites" into a story about a tractor fire, somehow.

    i keep posting all sorts of stuff about us on your blog… maybe i should get my own. but i like replying better than starting new threads most of the time.

    by the way, i love your garden, and am slightly envious. apparently i have the same desire to be tied to the earth, as our non-grass-type plants are constantly encroaching on our lawn… just added two blackberry bushes, and soon i'll be adding 2 peach trees! i can't be quite as happy go lucky about growing them from pits, since our weather is a bit different and most varieties would probably not survive here, but hooray for whoever develops new hardy varieties!

    • marybethrew

      it's fine with me if you keep posting stuff in my comments, i'm ok with that. 🙂 i'm glad you are garden-y, tim! mom is even talking about your gardening. i don't necessarily recommend starting trees from pits by the way- i just had nowhere to put an actual tree until right about now, so pits in pots was what i did in the meantime, and now those little guys really do need to get out of their pots. 🙂

      i loved hearing the story of the naming of brick, and the storytelling/coping that talan is doing. i have a post brewing about quinn's processing with baby kitty… when i saw the picture you guys had texted, it was right after baby kitty had died and yes, the cycle stuff came to mind again.

      and happy birthday, tim! i hope you had a lovely day yesterday!

  • Tim

    oh yeah, and hooray for hugelkultur. but why not hugel the brush as well? oh, and did you dig all that with a shovel? in one day? amazing!

    • marybethrew


      the potato bed was hugeled with brush. (i like using hugel as a verb. does it come across with a german accent in your head, too?) and i have plans to hugel future brush as well, but for the time being there is really a lot lot lot of brush and there will always be more, too, and i wasn't ready with anything else for the hugel beds besides, well, brush. (kinda need some other stuff to make it go, ya know.) so yeah, that is a thought i've definitely had, but no need to stockpile brush in this climate. and no i did not dig it all in one day- that second half took me 2 or 3 days, but wednesday i spent quite a few hours on it and did the lion's share. it's not as amazing as it looks though, it used to be a garden years ago, so the soil is actually still quite nice and loose, and if it wasn't for the salmonberry roots throughout, it would have been even quicker.

  • Oh wow, your garden is coming along amazingly well. I don't know if I'd have it in me to do all that hard work, you are such a trooper. I really love those spiral paths!
    Celynne recently posted..Mane Musings

  • love seeing the spiral garden come together! (and glad Quinn remains dedicated to dino-mania).
    6512 and growing recently posted..this moment

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