It’s always calmest before the beheading

Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, we were blessed with another lovely weekend at Northbrook.  We even arrived to find that the pool had been opened by the kind pool people (we had hoped they’d fit us in but we weren’t sure).  The kids were thrilled until they attempted to swim in it.  The WorkHorse was on deck for the inaugural swim (I was working on the Obsession) so I didn’t see their faces initially but I definitely heard the screams!  Let’s just say the swimming was extremely limited given the frigid temperatures.

Since we didn’t have guests or too much to do, the weekend was dedicated fairly intensely to the garden.  I’ve discovered that even when I’m not doing much I can still fritter away huge amounts of time in the garden.  For starters, there are the weeds.  The weeds are hard to describe.  As our girl describes it, ‘even when you’ve pulled out tons, there always seem to be more’.  She’s right.  This past week I read a great quote on a blog, “The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow”.  I love that and feel sure it’s true.  But what to do when you’re only at the garden’s location two days a week?  Like motherhood, the garden seems to provide lots of opportunities for guilt and self-doubt.  And like with my children, I’m madly in love with my garden despite it’s imperfections.

The final seedlings and seeds were planted this weekend.  In went Gloria’s wonderful tomato plants, on some nifty teepee trellises we rigged up using copper tubing and lovely terracotta finials.  I also planted the pumpkins, zucchini and corn.  And remember those watermelon plants that wouldn’t come up?  Well they did in the end, so they went into the garden too.  I’m not all that optimistic about the watermelons since every thing I’ve read about growing watermelons seems to suggest it shouldn’t be undertaken by the new gardener, but what the heck, it’s worth a try.  It’s all looking quite lovely at the moment.  Here’s the garden….

You can see the pumpkin and watermelon bed just beyond the pretty but beat-up chair I rescued from the city neighbour’s garbage and am using as a planter for edible flowers.  On the other side of the fence, on your left, is the corn bed.  Turns out you’ve got to plant at least 4 rows of corn to allow for pollination – we’ve got five, so fingers crossed we’ll get some corn.  I know for certain that the racoons will get most everything we grow, but I’d still like to see what we can get.

We did get to have our very first food from the garden this weekend.  What joy!  We snipped the outer leaves from the arugula and lettuce mix and added the thinnings from the buttercruch lettuce to the bowl.  To that we added some radishes plucked from the girl’s section of the garden.  I tried to replicate a simple vinaigrette the WorkHorse and I enjoyed on a rare dinner out in the city this week.  I asked after the recipe and was told to use plain white vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest.  I did, and our salad was delicious, although it may just have been the taste of our first success.

So things were looking pretty good up at the farm this weekend.  The flowers are beautiful, it’s peaceful and quiet.

and then came the beheading.

But first, a little back story.  Last week I was fretting here about my parsley.  I had planted it a month ago and had seen not one scrap of evidence that anything was coming up.  I actually want to eat parsley, so I’m keen to see it thrive in the garden.  When we arrived at Northbrook on Friday night I was reading a gardening book and was relieved to learn that parsley can take 3-5 weeks to germinate.  Then, on closer inspection on Saturday morning, I was positively delighted to find a very tidy row of nicely spaced teeny tiny parsley seedlings.  I was so excited about this that I showed/bored all of the members of my family my newest discovery.

The following day, the kids happened upon me in the garden and one of them (I’m not naming names here) picked up the small pair of scissors I was using to thin some beet seedlings.  This child announced that they were snipping off the weeds.  Since they’ve both weeded with me and asked whenever they were in doubt between weed and seedling, I wasn’t paying much attention, other than to suggest that weeds should be pulled from the root rather than snipped.  When I looked up, I found to my horror that my entire row of parsley seedlings had been brutally decapitated.  The realization of the error brought about quite an unpleasant moment.  The child was mortified, the mother equally so.  While I wanted to comfort the distraught child, I found I needed a few moments alone to deal with this first garden massacre.  I’m sure there will be other incidents, but I hope none are as gory!  I can still see their little tiny parsley heads lying in the dirt!  I semi-recovered and planted seeds over the old ones, and around 4 or 5 weeks from now I hope to be back where I started.

In other learnings, I realized I’m WAY overwatering the garden.  I can’t even tell you by how much.  I cut the watering in half, but I think I should probably cut it in half again.  That’s how much I’ve been overwatering.  I’m like a new mum, thinking that more food, more of everything is better.  I should know better – the ‘more food’ I kept offering my oldest just resulted in a tummy ache and tired baby and mother.  I’m hoping I’ve caught my mistake early enough to avoid any real trauma, but time will tell.

While I can’t wait to get back to the farm, I’ve got renovations in my city garden keeping me distracted this week.  I’ll post some before and after pics when I’ve got them.  Here’s wishing you a great week and happy obsessing over whatever you most like to obsess about.

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5 thoughts on “It’s always calmest before the beheading

  1. Oh, the garden is looking BEAUTIFUL. Love the pots. Love the trellises. Love the rooster. And what a fine looking salad! Congrats on your first harvest.

  2. Love your blog and can’t wait to hear more about your garden. You have a magical way with words and humor. I would have been gritting my teeth till I had none if one of my grandchildren had cut down an entire row of babies.

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