Farmer tan or perma-dirt?

Well, the weather has turned from wet and cool to hot and sunny. While the last week of May was still very much spring, the first week of June has been very summery. The last weekend in May I went to Ottawa, where I met up with a good farming friend. He noticed immediately how tanned my hands were – a sign that we’ve had cool gardening weather, since I’ve been working outside a lot, but with long sleeves on. Well, as of this week, I’m definitely working on the full-on farmer tan. Though it can at times be hard to distinguish between the farmer tan and the perma-dirt. Running out of the house on Tuesday to make it to school, I didn’t have time to put on sunscreen (bad idea, though luckily I don’t burn). And thus began farmer-tan, the 2011 edition. On Wednesday, however, I did put on sunscreen (good call!) and it was so windy that there was soil and dust flying around all day, meaning I ended up with a nice layer of that stuck to the sunscreen. So it’s hard to tell what’s farmer tan and what’s soil. I have no doubt that I’ve got a good start to this year’s fingernail perma-dirt as well. No complaints, though – I enjoy being covered in soil on a regular basis and love having jobs where I dress in comfy shorts and t-shirt.

Both of the school gardens are starting to look more and more like gardens. This is especially noticeable in the new garden, which until just a couple of weeks ago just looked like a big patch of brown soil, with some mulch and patio-stone paths through it. But now things are growing! There are lots of little green seedlings peeking up through the ground (though also often being buried under the copious amounts of Norway Maple keys), and we planted a whole bunch of seedlings in the past couple of weeks as well.  During the last week of May, we planted a ton of marigolds with some of the younger grades – marigolds are great companions throughout the garden, since lots of harmful insects don’t like their smell. We also planted a handful of tomatoes and peppers, though not too many, since they hadn’t yet been hardened off and it was still a bit chilly. This past week (the 1st week of June) was the major transplanting. We planted a whole bunch of tomatoes (5-6 different varieties), a bunch of peppers (both hot and sweet), some cucumbers, zucchini, squash, eggplants (4 varieties), okra, a ground cherry, tons of basil and a few herbs. It wasn’t the ideal day for transplanting – it was pretty warm and super windy, so I was pretty afraid the plants would dry out quickly and would also not do too well dealing with the crazy winds that they weren’t used to – but we’ll keep our fingers crossed that they’ll do ok. That’s one of the challenges with school gardening – since I’m only at each garden one day each week, we have to just take whatever weather we get, rather than being able to pick the best day for doing specific garden tasks (seeding, transplanting, weeding, etc). Another challenge I find with gardening in general is trying to limit the number of plants I put in – they’re so tiny when you first put them in and it’s hard to conceptualize how big they’ll become in just a few weeks and months! So keeping in mind the recommended planting distances is important, though challenging, because the
garden looks so empty at first. But it will likely be a jungle soon enough!

And speaking of jungles, the Spiderweb garden is quite the jungle already! We have a section of the garden which is the “naturalized” area for attracting pollinators. Well, after all of the rain we’ve had this spring, those plants have been growing like stink (as farmer Ann, who I worked for in 2009, would say)! Most of our paths in that garden are grass, which has also grown like crazy. And wow, the herb bed has turned into a sage and oregano jungle. Let alone the mint that’s constantly trying to take over the whole garden… But some of the stuff we’ve planted this year has also started growing– salad greens, kale and radishes are growing decently (if somewhat slowly, it feels), a few peas are peeking out, the corn has started sprouting in the Three Sisters Garden, the tomatoes and basil are looking pretty good, and the garlic is still looking great. I also decided to put in some kohlrabi this year, as something new and fun – it’s such a strange looking veggie (it’s got this funny Sputnik look to it) and has a pretty mild taste that I think a lot of the kids will like. Ooo, and it looks like we’ll get some strawberries this year too! There were quite a few blossoms on them a couple of weeks ago, which have now turned into little green berries. Hoping to be able to harvest a few with some of the kids in a few weeks!

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Happy growing!


One response to this post.

  1. Great pics! Nice to see things growing 🙂


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