This morning I watered the garden for the first time since the rain we had last week. The tomatoes grew another six inches in all directions in the last four days, with new yellow blooms everywhere. It felt like “tomato jungle” as I squeezed between the seven-foot tall plants, their tendrils blocking my path. I gently guided the branches back into the cages. Last week I made a little over two quarts of salsa, which I shared with my neighbor. It looks as though I will be doing this again within a few days, given the abundance.
Before I left for the garden this morning, I took a quick glance at the Farmer’s Almanac. I saw that it was supposed to be a good day for planting. I located the packets of lettuce, chive, beet, and turnip seed, and then remembered the bag of onions I had left over from earlier planting. With gloves, seeds, and spade fork in hand, I was ready to go.
Recently my neighbor brought me a truckload of llama manure from a llama farm that is about fifty miles away. When he got back to our place with it, we emptied it into sheets of heavy plastic so that we could keep it covered and shielded from the rain, spacing these precious packages in three different areas of the 200-foot-diameter garden. I used the wheelbarrow to cart some of the stuff to the beds and turned it into the soil with my spade fork. I planted beets, for the fourth time this season, hoping that this time I would actually see all seedlings survive. Then I weeded and turned another small bed where my herbs (basil, thyme, and parsley) are happily growing. There I planted lettuce, chives, and the onions. I mulched everything with the dried out, golden hay we have had available since early spring. Once all the makeshift guards were in place, I was satisfied that no critters would be able to access my newest endeavor. A thorough watering of everything and I was free to go back to the cool of my cabin.
It has been at least ten weeks since I last did any physical labor in the garden. This morning took it out of me! I was hot and thirsty, and once inside, glad to sit down with a book. When the phone rang, I talked for a long time with my friend and when we hung up, I was ready for an early afternoon nap.
It was so lovely to take a nap in the middle of the day, to let go all concerns and drift off into a deep sleep. I had a vivid dream, which I immediately forgot once I woke up, at least an hour and a half later. It was past four o’clock, and as I got up, I felt stiff. I knew I had to get back to the garden to finish the rest of the planting. I ate a late lunch of sardines, fresh tomatoes, and rye crisps with cream cheese; had a cup of coffee. Feeling re-energized, I stepped outside.
All summer, the eggplants I started from seed sat outside on a table, growing in their medium-sized pots. I had planned to put them in larger pots up off the ground, as in the past, set into the ground, the flea beetles decimated them. However, given how late it is now in the growing season, I decided I would put them out in the garden and see what happens. I loaded the potted plants into my car and drove over to the garden.
More soil turned, more llama manure mixed in, I set out the five eggplants, mulched and watered them well. In the same bed, I planted the turnip seed, mulched and watered. The sun was setting and I could hear something out in the forest at the edge of the garden, not too far from the bed I just planted. I looked around and found a piece of cage wire, which I balanced over my newly planted bed. I had a vision of a deer jumping right into the middle of it all, so I went to the shed and found the last of a roll of orange plastic tape, the kind used for marking trees or plants. Lightweight, I took one end and draped it back and forth across the bed, tying each end to a couple of stakes at each corner of the bed. My hope is that any deer might see it and take heed. The deer already left signs in the fenced-in tomato patch of having leaped over my fencing, deep hoof prints in the ground. They were apparently just testing their jumping skills because they did not eat any tomatoes. They did knock over a few of the caged tomatoes, but the root systems are so strong, there was no damage done. I propped up the cages and reinforced them. I really do not wish to find fresh deer hoof prints in my turnip and eggplant bed when I go out to water tomorrow!
The sun was down. I stopped by my neighbor’s, whose cabin is right next to the garden. We sat out on his screened-in porch and visited by the light of a kerosene lamp. The day well spent, it was pleasant to sit and visit for a little while in the cool of the evening. When I got up to leave, I could feel my bones creaking a little. It is a good feeling, growing older and working out in a garden. Despite a mid-afternoon snooze, a day like today makes for a good night’s rest and sweet dreams!