Getting in the (Gardening) Zone


Every year sometime between when the sap starts to flow, or before, and when the first tree leaves have burst from their buds to encase the natural world in a layer of pollen and chartreuse leaflets I begin to feel the stirring in my blood.  It must be the same inner sense that tells the skunk cabbage to start blossoming, emitting massive amounts of heat and becoming the first food available  to bears as they come out of hibernation because it certainly isn’t the temperature or a massive amount of daylight.  The days are getting longer its true, but that isn’t what makes me reach for the box of seeds stored for the long winter in the basement. Continue reading “Getting in the (Gardening) Zone”

Blog Action Day -or- Woe is Me Garden

This Blog Action Day on Climate Change and Global Warming I want to take a look at how the changing climate has affected my garden this year.

For anyone living in the north eastern Unites States, referring to the summer of 2009 is likely to elicit a sigh or perhaps a sarcastic laugh.  In my youth the seasonal description ‘April showers bring May flowers’ somehow became ‘April sunshine brings May, June, July and some August showers too!’  The temperatures were lower than usual and in combination with the excess of rain many of my plants had a less than ideal growing season.

You see, I have a plot at the Northampton Community Garden in which I grow fruit, vegetables, herbs, and some flowers.   While I like eating close to home for the lower environmental impact, I also think it is wonderful fun to watch things grow and to nurture them along the way.  But this summer as I was weeding, watering and planting another thing happened: my plants started to behave strangely in reaction to the seasonably strange weather that some referred to as ‘global cooling.’

First of all, my pepper plants never really grew.  When the plants finally got a little bigger, I was waiting and waiting for the peppers to come.  I’ve had peppers grow well in the past, but this year, nothing.  Research amongst my fellow gardeners and my ‘small-scale farming guru’ father taught me that peppers are of a tropical origin and grow best with heat, something which typically comes all of July and the first part of August, but only made a short appearance this year.

The other major challenge in the garden this year was my tomatoes.  The excess of water caused many fruits to split before they ripened and then the late blight, something that I have always know to signal the end of the season in late September, came early and wiped out a majority of the tomatoes.   Fortunately I had three varieties of the eight I planted which survived the blight.  The otherwise poor tomato growing conditions wiped out my hoped-for good season with this fruit.

I think it is important to notice that there are changes occurring and that we have some affect on those changes.  I don’t know if they are reversible, but I believe our daily wasteful habits contribute to continued environmental degradation.  Our environment supports life on this planet.  Shouldn’t we maybe pay a little more attention to this?

Old fashioned carrots

carrot1Someone I know was recently sitting on a bus in the Pioneer Valley and two college-aged women were nearby. One of the women pulled out a carrot and started to eat it.

“Where’d you get that old fashioned carrot?” the other girl asked.

That comment shows us the disconnect that many people have to the food that they eat and where it comes from. It also tell me that education is important so that people know what vegetables look like out of the ground and before they are processed.