In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A garden between the forest and the sea

Our vegetable garden is entering its second year. In June last year we went after the compacted place where a garden had flourished decades earlier. Beneath a tangled layer of grasses and roots we encountered wire, fencing, old fish nets, remnants of plastic tarps, and stones of every size. We added a new deer fence of spruce posts and fish net. It was a late start, but it was a start. All summer and early fall the wind sang through the fish net as I discovered the tiny miracles and disappointments of a vegetable garden. 

The miracles outweighed the disappointments. I watched a delirious bee, the baskets on his legs already packed with glowing amber pollen, lurch from flower to flower like a drunk on a pub crawl. "Just one more!" I distinctly heard him say in a buzzing kind of way. And once, a few feet from where I sat weeding, a ruby-throated hummingbird ignored me entirely, so intensely focused was he on the pole beans' scarlet flowers. I learned that a handful of seeds would provide us with six months of sugar snap peas, not to mention the beauty of the flowers that came before the pea pods -- flowers of violet and garnet and azure -- hanging on the vines.  

I read that gardening is mostly weeding and heave an inward sigh of relief.  I can do weeding. There are so many helpful hints and instructions and lessons for gardening available on the internet that you could make yourself crazy or paralyzed by trying to take it all in, much less remember it all. Better to just go ahead and make your own mistakes, I think. That way you'll remember them at least.  Anyway, it isn't mostly about mistakes and avoiding them. It's mostly about being out there day after day, watching what's going on and taking care of things and letting yourself be amazed. 

One thing I learned last summer was that I needed to built stronger trellises. Last year the vines sagged on old lanyard strung between two tall stakes. I tried to stake the stakes, but eventually the strong summer winds and the weight of the vines and leaves and peas made for a mess.  This year we will have more trellises, for peas and beans and english cucumber, a particularly nice kind of cucumber that's expensive in the store.  

Our new plan is for taller stakes, more deeply buried, with better side supports, and an old herring net for the climbing vines.  We found the herring net along the shore past the sheep corral a month or so ago, and Greg went down and got it this weekend. I have marked it off and cut it to size. It's a great net, its weave much heavier than the net we used for the perimeter fence, so easier to work with. And as you can see it's beautiful.  I especially admire the bright orange line woven into all that lovely teal.

The stakes are the leftovers from Skipper's lumber milling on the island, so they are from the spruce forest. The net used to hang many fathoms deep below the surface of the sea. Now the worlds of forest and sea will intersect where peas and beans and cucumbers climb from earth to sky. 

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