Posts Tagged ‘friends’
Your Small Kitchen Garden catches up with even more posts about what went on in the garden this season while the kitchen gardener (Daniel) was busy writing his book Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry it, Too.
A Kitchen Garden Photo Session
I’ve spoken a few times about a man I met in 2009 when I spotted his small kitchen garden and asked whether he’d let me photograph it for my blog. In the summer of 2009, this man had a somewhat weedy planting bed supporting mature tomatoes, greens, beets, summer squash, and asparagus. I tried to add depth to my photo of this planting bed by capturing a heavily-laden grape arbor in the foreground.
During my photo shoot which, sadly, I tried to complete on a heavily overcast day, this friendly old man shared stories about his gardening and his family. Turns out that his wife had cooked rhubarb into treats, but since she’d died he had no further interest in the plants. The enormous bed of asparagus apparently had fed his family, but now produced so many shoots that he’d harvest and compost them to keep the plants producing for his occasional meals into the summer.
Kitchen Gardening Twilight
This nice man told me he planned to remove his rhubarb plants, so I offered to do the job for him in exchange for the plants. I returned in the spring, moved the plants to my garden, and reported about my experience in a post titled Small Kitchen Garden Rhubarb Project.
To thank my new gardening friend, I baked and delivered a strawberry-rhubarb pie. After a short chat at the front door, he invited me around to the planting bed where he explained that he just couldn’t get motivated to plant a garden this year. Strawberries were in season, but he’d planted nothing yet.
So I asked whether he wanted a garden; of course he did.
The Two-Hour Kitchen Garden
This had been the season of too many. I had ended up with double the tomato and pepper seedlings I’d planned, and I had broccoli and cauliflower plants that simply weren’t going to fit in my garden. As well, I had bought extra lima bean and string bean seeds… and quite a few butternut squash seeds.
I also had kids (still have them, come to think of it). They agreed to go with me and plant a garden appropriate for a bachelor.
The planting bed had spent winter and early spring under black plastic. We were able to peel back the plastic and, with very little digging, raking, or hoeing, plant all the seeds and seedlings we’d taken along with us. I used several stakes from my garden to erect a trellis for the tomato plants, and we covered as much soil as we could with black plastic. We finished the job in about two hours.
Kitchen Garden Challenges
I visited about a month later and found the garden was way, way behind my own. I had watered during an early dry spell, and my friend had not. Worse: a woodchuck had dined on beans and broccoli before my friend had captured it and released it many miles outside of town.
I meant to visit one more time in the fall, but that clearly isn’t going to happen. Still, I’ll check in mid-winter so I’ll know whether to start extra seeds for my friend’s 2011 small kitchen garden. My kids clearly don’t like gardening, but I think they’ll be willing to chip in if we can finish the job in under two hours.
Call To Action
I posted this story before I went to bed early on Saturday morning. As I woke up later that day it occurred to me: I should have encouraged the world to act! Here’s an amendment to the story.
Please help in an aged neighbor’s vegetable garden! It’s likely there are hundreds of thousands of aging gardeners who lack the energy or motivation to plant the family vegetable patch. Find one and extend an offer to help! We spent just TWO HOURS to plant in a well-established bed. For that, a lonely, pleasant, and very appreciative old man had a season’s fresh vegetables that called back decades of produce he’d grown with his family.
It was a simple, painless gesture that I’d love to see repeated by my gardening friends all over the world.
By late summer, squash and pumpkin plants dominate in my small kitchen garden. There are bush wax beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower still producing, and they’re all packed in so tightly that it’s nearly impossible to navigate among the leaves.
Within a few weeks of starting Your Small Kitchen Garden blog, I realized it had taken me somewhere I’d always wanted to be: out in my garden with friends. Within days of my first post, Your Small Kitchen Garden had visitors. And, as I’ve posted more of my gardening experiences, more visitors have come. I’ve enjoyed the comments and the conversations, though seeing the number of visitors, I often wish more of them would leave comments, suggestions, or questions.
Where to Find Gardeners on line
When I wrote my first post, I had no idea that there are, perhaps, thousands of gardening blogs. You can find these by reading blog rolls—lists of the blogs bloggers like to visit. (I recently started a blog roll to which I’ll be adding more sites over the coming weeks; you may need to scroll down quite far to find my blog roll, but please check it out; I hope you’ll enjoy some of the blogs I enjoy.)
My “Imaginary” Gardening Friends
You can also find gardeners on Twitter. There, home gardeners, landscapers, farmers, nursery owners and workers, gardening magazine and book writers, garden products producers, and radio and television personalities exchange thoughts and encouragement. Connect with one or two of them, and the interaction will lead to hundreds of others. Float a question to the gardeners on Twitter and you’re likely to get some helpful answers within a few hours.
I’ve interacted with several hundred gardeners and garden-focused folks on Twitter, but because I haven’t met them in person, my daughter refers to them as my imaginary friends.
Imaginary Becomes Real
Someplace along the on-line gardening path, members of the community find ways to meet in person. So far, two of my imaginary friends have become real. Each visited me in my isolated homestead in central Pennsylvania.
Yes, I had an awesome tomato season, despite the trench foot and the very late expression of late blight. We’ve eaten a lot of tomato salad, various pasta dishes with tomato sauces, risotto with tomatoes, and sandwiches with tomatoes. On top of all the great tomato dishes, I’ve put up 36 pints of tomato sauce and 18 pints of diced and whole tomatoes. Still, there is about a half bushel of tomatoes awaiting attention, and, perhaps, two or three more gallons on the vines.
I’m pleased that an upshot of one of these visits is that my no-longer-imaginary friend, Punkrockgardens (Laura Mathews is her given name) has featured my tomatoes in her blog. In her post, Tomato Tidbits: Why do we do all this? she captures the motivation of home tomato growers, and highlights some of the quirks of this nearly past growing season.
I enjoy Laura’s blog because she reports at-large about the gardening scene in central Pennsylvania… which is where I live. I also enjoy the photos she includes with her blog posts; she is a professional photographer with a thoughful and creative eye.
Expand Your Small Kitchen Garden
Please check out the Punk Rock Gardens blog, and visit other blogs on my blog roll. As you browse my blog posts and those of other garden bloggers, leave comments and bookmark entries that you find useful; comments are just about the only measure bloggers have of whether they’re reaching their audiences.
But don’t stop with blogs. Join Twitter if you haven’t yet, and participate in the gardening chatter. Follow me as @cityslipper and you’ll quickly find hundreds of gardeners and gardening enthusiasts with plenty to share.