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Thursday, August 11, 2016

This year has been potatoes. I'm not saying it's like meat and potatoes, more like growing potatoes:
You plant them in deep trenches and wait as they unfurl unassuming leaves followed by dainty flowers and then you cover up some of the leaves in hopes that they keep growing. You don't really know what's happening under the soil, just kinda keep going in hopes that the tubers are forming.

It's kinda a whistle and a prayer, but for slightly impatient gardeners such as myself, once the flowers form, you can reach under the soil and feel around for new potatoes. That's when you start seeing the fruit of your labor.
I had high hopes that all the trenching, mulching, planting, and hard work would pay off. I hoped the big greenhouse would pay off, the soil amendments to the garden would sprout great crops, and that our raised bed projects would be very productive.

But so far... potatoes.

I have no idea what's simmering under the surface of the soil. As the season creeps on, I'm still wondering what will happen this year.

Anyway, the flowers are coming on in waves of beautiful colors, shapes, and textures. I plant a lot of flowers based on scent alone, so now that my English rose is doing so well, I'm delighted by the fragrance. The nigella have seeded everywhere and some of the annuals came back after the mild winter.

In the greenhouse, my second crop of strawberries is coming on. I need to plant more in there. If I could extend the strawberry harvest, that would be a great crop to have around in the early winter and early spring. I planted a raspberry in there as well, but I think I lost it.
The tomatoes and peppers are just starting to come on, but then the well broke and during the heat of the summer, we were without running water for almost a week.
While I may have been proud of my sister for bathing in the creek and flushing with buckets, the garden and greenhouse did not share my optimistic sentiment. The tomatoes, addicted to irrigation in the heat of this dry spell, cracked open just before harvest.

I stood at my mother's sink, slicing up the first of the tomatoes of the season, super excited to taste the fruits of my labor, albeit, cutting around the split in the skin like a seam that popped. While still warm from the sun, I went to take my first bite but something smelled terrible and all the pressure from this rough year hit all at once and I cried. I couldn't fathom why a tomato could smell like dirty dishwater or where I went wrong so I ran outside with the slice that was in my hand and tears running down my face. And it was outside, in the stifling August air that I realized it wasn't the tomato that smelled, but probably the bucket of dirty dishwater that was in the sink that I was smelling. Hmm. Funny how sensitive we get at times.

Sometimes when everything seems to bear down on me, things I cannot prevent or see like drought or sickness, I like to do something that I used to think was hard.

So I went out with a pair of scissors in hand and sheared the sheep. She needed it. And it's something that is physically very difficult to do, but the more practice you get, the quicker and better you get and the more comfortable the animal is with you wielding a couple of blades very close to their skin.
I used to be terrible at this. I bought the expensive shears, tried the old school manual ones that look like two knives welded together. Neither did much for me.
The cheap pair of scissors was able to cut through the course, Icelandic sheep wool well without giving me blisters. So I would gear up with 5 pairs and run out to the fields to strip down the sheep once a year.
I got my holds down, ewe on the ground with a knee rested securely on her shoulder to keep her calm while I worked my blades from the belly up over the ribs to the backbone before grabbing a hoof and flipping her over to shear the other side.

What I completely forgot was how many muscles are used in such a simple task. Wow. But the sense of accomplishment in getting it done, getting something done that I used to be terrible at with a sense of satisfaction that's almost unparalleled.

So then I checked on my potatoes. Still just leaves. Brown, slightly crinkled and whining leaves. But I hope with enough care, time and learning as I go, I hope the harvest really pays off soon.

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