Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (7)

[Our version of a kiddie pool. Klassy, I know.] I took advantage of the nice weather to finally get more seeds in the ground. Awhile back, Papa Bean was able to plant our potatoes and a row of corn (to act as a windbreak at the north end of our plot, because the wind comes from the northwest in our community garden's field. I doubt we'll get corn from it, planting so late in the season.) They are starting to break the ground! Along with all the thistles lol. Then, last weekend, I trotted out to plant some vines (pumpkin, zucchini x 3 types, acorn and butternut squash, and cantaloupe), a couple rows of red and yellow onions, and some flowers along the front of our plot (the garden association 'requires' us to plant a flower border on edges next to paths, but not everyone does it.) There's a healthy population of cutworms at the garden - previously we've used collars cut from yogurt containers and milk cartons, but this years I just sprinkled crushed egg shells around them. The soil is so clay, it was hard to position the collars properly. Finally, today I ran out after church to plant five rows of yellow and green beans, a row of sugar snap peas, some chard, a bit of cinnamon basil, and some kohlrabi. Many of those beans will be donated to friends and the food bank. I don't really know what kohlrabi is, and we may be too late in the season to plant it, but I needed to fill the space, and I had the seeds (why?) Tomorrow **fingers crossed** I will plant four-ish rows of carrots, and our cucumbers, and the main garden will. be. planted... finally.

It's too much, y'all. I met another family doing a plot for the first time this year, with an 18-month-old little boy. They were looking mighty overwhelmed by the weeds that sprung up everywhere in the short week since they'd last been to the garden. I feel their pain. The plots are very large, and your weed control is only as good as your neighbour's... it can be soooooo discouraging. I'm feeling pretty good about giving it up next year - it will just be so nice to walk out into our own yard and take care of everything - without putting stuff in the car, without driving, without leaving a spouse at home with the kids.

[Does anyone know what this foamy stuff on this plant is? It's some kind of sage plant, I think it's a weed I didn't take care of, and now I act like I want it there on purpose. Anyway, several branches got this foamy stuff on them, some with these tiny bugs nearby. I cut it all off, but was still wondering what it was, and if I can prevent it??] The other night, PB stepped out for the evening, and I decided to weed our front flower beds, as Bean was in bed and Sprout was having her pre-bedtime nap. (Oh to be a newborn, napping six times a day!) (Please don't mention how a three month old hardly qualified as 'newborn' because it already depresses me /sigh. < cliche > They Grow So Fast < /cliche >) Because part of gardening with children is of course gardening by yourself, in stolen half hours and hours when they're (blessedly) asleep but it's still (blessedly) light out, and you can just work without supervising anyone. It's the other side of kinderGARDENing, amiright?

[To be fair, Bean is getting pretty independent in the backyard. He likes to be off by himself, just... chillin'. Check out our rhubarb :)] I don't *like* weeding, nobody likes weeding, in the sense that it's a chore, it's something that has to be done, because there are gross consequences if it's not done. Buuuuuuuut I'll tell you a secret. The actual act of weeding, I kind of enjoy. It's kind of... satisfying. I mean, I get to start at one end, and move steadily to the other, systematically removing what I don't want, leaving a clear line of accomplishment across the soil. It's so tangibly successful - here I have weeded, there I have not, look how pretty I make the world! And it is meditative. I was thinking it'd be fun to hook up my iPod, but realized I'd miss the silence. Y'all know this - the silence of garden work is not really silent; there are birds, there's the wind, there's the gentle sound of just the earth or something. It's peaceful. I think about things. (I think about blog posts about weeding lol) I have developed a technique, it's probably the same as yours - I've learned to pull at the base of the stem, because then I'm more likely to get the root, too. So I sweep my hand under the leaves, low to the soil, passing from stem to stem, tugging with a firm and steady pressure, until I feel that familiar giving way, as the roots give up their purchase in the dirt. It's such a subtle feeling, like the plant is sighing. How do I teach that to my children? It is something that can only be learned by experience. Repeated experience.

[Look at these edible toes! It's mosquito season here is the Prairie Valley City. When you live in a Prairie Valley, which is basically just a giant floodplain, you essentially live in a giant mosquito breeding ground. There is so much 'standing water' here, I mean, the soil itself is moist enough to breed the suckers, I swear! Grass even an inch high is a skeeter city! And we aren't even in the full throes of it yet... but I brought out the netting, just in case]I feel that same giving way in my soul, when I give up on the dishes to cuddle up to my son with a book, when I give up on reading the computer screen to just hold my baby girl as she cries into sleep. I know how it feels to be pulled and pulled by the realities of motherhood, until I become untethered from the dirt of the Daily and the Mundane, and let go. It feels like sacrifice, it feels like being pulled from the earth, and it feels like love.

Or maybe I'm trying to make poetry from something as utterly prosaic as weeding. But isn't that also true of motherhood, making Pretty from the Plain and Regular and Sameoldsameold. Don't we take the stuff of life -cookingcleaningchildren - and make it something poetic, something of concentrated beauty? Don't we dissect the truths of Life from living life, and hold it up to our children, and teach them with it? Teach them how to value it, how to use it, how to survive and thrive and love through it all... Yes, I think that is what we do.

Love yourselves through this week of kinderGARDENing and kinderEVERYTHINGELSEing, friends. And, as always, check out Kim's blog for everyone else's input this week.
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  1. I can make something beautiful out of weeding...dishes, pretty sure not! What a lovely post! I can't get over the netting over tiny baby toes, I will no longer complain about our mosquitoes!

    You will probably find a tiny green bug at the middle of the foam, we call them is an article about them

  2. I'm with Kim---we call them spittlebugs too. They're harmless, thank goodness. One less pest to worry about.

    I agree with you---making the beautiful out of the mundane is part of the craft of being a mom. It's the artsy side of the practical job we do every day. :)

  3. I'm sure your garden is looking lovely, but I stopped listening when I got to the toes! I love babies feet, so little and precious. Sigh, makes me want to have another.

  4. Along the stem of that plant are aphids...DESTROY them or they will take over the garden. Burn the, throw them away, drown them....YUCK! They are no good. Love, love the baby feet!

  5. beautiful post - and beautiful little toes!

    we are trying kohlrabi for the first time, too. we picked our first one this evening. i'm not really sure what to do with it - still looking for a recipe!

  6. Pureed kohlrabi is loved by one of my internet friends.

    I have a sister in law that eats them raw.

    I usually treat them like turnips and cut them finely into soups/stews/stirfrys.

    I have also grated them raw into Cole-slaw and liked it.

    Hope that helps!

  7. You are such a great writer. I love the way it feels when the weed comes out, root and all (now when the root stays in the ground, I get kinda angry and definitely not poetic)!

  8. Thank-you to everyone for your kind comments! I'm glad we can all appreciate little baby toes :) Thanks also for the spittlebug advice, and aphid advice - I did cut off all the branches and destroy them. I have also heard about putting kohlrabi in stirfry - apparently they're a little like broccoli stem? If we actually get any, I'll update how they tasted!