The Rains Came to Hull and A Message from California

Here in Hull, when I last wrote in the middle of August, it was very dry. All the grass was brown and even in my deeply mulched garden the vegetables needed to be watered and the soil needed rain.

I am happy to report that the water did return and new growth has begun again. It is even raining right now. The sound of the rain on the skylights is cozy and hopeful and as thunder sounds water is coming to Hull.

As you can see from the photos of the butternut squash above there is a resurgence of green at the end of this summer. In August I cut back the mint and tansy to give the butternut squash room to roam and all three have responded with fresh green thanks to the rain. Each week as the squash grows I cut back a bit more mint and tansy as the bees are visiting the mature mint and I try to leave as many mint flowers as I can. It is a balancing act to give both the squash and the bees what they need.

The harvest of Saturday, September 17th when I pulled one cucumber patch and most of the zucchini and thinned the carrots and the turnip, beet, radish, spinach and lettuce greens.

On the 17th of September it was a joyous event to eat a salad of the young green thinnings with the cucumbers and tomatoes that are still surviving at the end of summer. There are so many small moments in the garden and each week is different and right now is the moment for the new crop of greens with the hanging on cucumbers and the tomatoes. As I ate I savored each bite and taste, first turnip, then arugula or radish or the mild lettuce and then the richness of the summer tomato and the crunch of the cucumber.  It was a celebration of that moment.

Now this blog’s subject is supposed to be carrots and I pulled a few carrots as I tried to maximize yield of those that remain. They were young and tasty but not yet great. But with the rain coming down and still another 8 to 10 weeks of growing still to come I have faith that the promise of their Juneteenth sowing will be realized and I will share them with the neighborhood kids and that those kids will grow up and eat vegetables.

New crop of greens, cayenne peppers, resurgent sorrel, parsley, and of course carrots.

I am wanted to share with you a message from Laney Signer, a true expert educator in agricultural practices that can sequester carbon and heal our world. Laney is also a regular contributor to the Carrot Day Blog and the mother of a brand new baby.

It is for our babies that we must fight to do all we can to reduce carbon in our air.

Message from California

As I contemplate Carrot Day 2022, now as a new mom of Juniper (born late June), I am struck by how farming and gardening seems to have prepared me so well for motherhood. The days of close observation, noticing subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) changes day by day, falling into a routine and rhythm (walk the fields, water/weed, harvest; feed, change, rock to sleep), there is a lot about my time spent with plants that lends itself well to analogies of mothering. I personify my plants and speak to them, just as I expand upon Juniper’s early expressions of personality and narrate the world around her. We have been walking out to the community garden at Green Valley Farm where we live in California since she was just a few days old, and I’ve been telling her about the progress our garden veggies are making. Living in this time of climate chaos plus a relatively year-round farming climate means we may not pull our first carrots on the day of the first frost, but rather we have a succession of carrots in the ground currently, some of which will hopefully be frost-kissed winter carrots. But who knows… We’ve had 100+ degree heat waves starting in May, late season rains and blessedly early fall rains last weekend, remarkably pleasant summer days in July, and a new spot carved into the sloping clay loam soil for growing vegetables for the land-based community this year. I got it started with the help of one other landmate, and since taking a break to become a mom, others have stepped in to tend to this lovely patch of earth and keep the successional plantings going. I thinned my row of carrots seeded in June recently, and pulled out some big ones to enjoy in a midsummer feast. The new carrots in the ground have just been thinned and are looking good, hopefully will be ready for the fall feasts to come. The joy of growing in community is not lost on me, as I am now out on the East Coast visiting family, allowing Juni to get to know her grandparents, the salty spray of the Atlantic, and hopefully meet her cousin coming soon. Meanwhile the community garden is tended by other hands, giving its best shot at responding to all the weather weirdness, responding to patient observations and responses of many sets of eyes. It is a real sign of social and climate resilience to build and nurture community gardens! And a signal of hope for the future, for me and for Juniper. I hope she comes to know many gardeners and farmers who shape her perspective in these early years, and beyond. 

Best,

Laney 

I close with a couple more pictures of the Hull garden and my favorite garden bed. That bed, as predicted in an earlier post, is finishing strong with Swiss Chard. The Swiss Chard has outlasted all of its neighbors. In the block of photographs below, which show the same ground from April to now, you can see how it has produced one kind of food after another. I think the most beautiful picture might be the September picture on the bottom right.

The last image for this post is photo of the zinnias and the arugula flowers that still welcome the bees. If things go as I hope the baby marigolds on the left will be bursting at Thanksgiving and we will be getting close to Carrot Day here in Hull.

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