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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Foggy garden

It has been a long slow spring in the garden. I guess this is a typical spring for gardens along the southwest shore of Nova Scotia. After all, it is the Atlantic Ocean we are on the edge of: a force of nature there's no point going up against. We have had more days of rain than not. Plenty of those rains have been deluges, the kind where you lie in bed at night listening to the rain pouring out of the sky and thinking about those little seeds all being washed away to Kingdom Come. Then you wait until the soil has drained enough to plant again.

The soil has warmed, gradually and slowly, but we have not yet had many brilliantly bright days. They will come, but not until August and September, I think. In summer this is a cool and foggy place. I'm not complaining about that. It's truly lovely. It just means you need to think about the garden a bit differently.

So now, at the end of June, the mustard greens have been doing well for a couple of weeks. We've been eating them in salads. They have a terrific peppery bite to them, and they are cut-and-come-again, perfect for a lazy gardener. The mesclun is ready for cutting, too. The peas are finally flowering and I will probably begin to pick them in a few days.
A few more days of sunlight would move things along, but the weather forecast is for more rain and cloud. "He's giving rain," is how folks around here put it. But they don't seem to get too exercised about what he may or may not be giving or withholding. They have made peace with his capricious ways.
This year I have learned that the number of days from germination to harvest listed on the seed packet is the number of days in some ideal world that contains the exactly correct proportions of water, warmth and sunlight. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just that it doesn't tell you much about your very own garden in its very own situation. And it's a set-up for frustration. That often happens when you measure reality against an ideal world, I think.
The garden is teaching me to let go of my expectations and soak up the reality. This foggy patch of soil is a thing of beauty, to me anyway. It's filled now with slowly growing beans and beets and turnips and chard, peppers and leeks, parsnips and shallots and cabbages and squash. There are eight fish bait boxes of lazy bed potatoes that are overflowing with luxurious green leaves. And yesterday I found a tiny new toad at the end of a row of turnips.

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