MLK Day, the Gift Economy and Seaweed


It is MLK Day and I took the morning to read a book my sister Lizzy gave me for Christmas, Braiding Sweetgrass: Idigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

That is what I want, Wisdom, Knowledge and Teaching. I got all three this week from Dr. Martin Luther King and Kimmerer, wisdom, knowledge and teaching. I learn directly from Kimmerer by reading her words. This week I learned from King indirectly through the sixth graders at the Community Charter School of Cambridge. The students made a “quilt” of his quotes. The paper quilt was their drawing of King’s words and how those words fit with their familys’ and their own wisdom, knowledge, and teaching. The paper quilt is a gift to me as a teacher and King’s words are gifts to us all.

Kimmerer is teaching me about the ways a “gift economy” works and the lessons of plants. So far I have only read about sweetgrass, pecan trees and wild strawberries. From reading Kimmerer I realized that Carrot Day is part of the “gift economy.” Here is what Kimmerer says about a “gift economy”

“Sweetgrass belongs to Mother Earth. Sweetgrass pickers collect properly and respectfully, for their own use and the needs of their community. They return a gift to the earth and tend to the well-being of the wiinggashk. The braids are given as gifts, to honor, to say thank you, to heal and to strengthen. The sweetgrass is kept in motion. When Wally gives the sweetgrass to the fire, it is a gift that has passed from hand to hand, growing richer as it is honored in every exchange.

That is the fundamental nature of gifts: they move, and their value increases with their passage. …. The more something is shared, the greater its value becomes.”

In the Hull Garden

One of my favorite lessons as a garden teacher was and is that the soil gives us the gift of the harvest and we in return need to give the soil gifts. I believe and have taught that lesson for more than twenty years.  I believe that the goal of the gardener is not harvesting vegetables but building soil. I looked at the garden today and saw many things I liked, but I also saw where I had not given back to the soil and had not followed my own teachings.

Pictured above: Left to right spinach under a cold frame, lettuce and mustard under a cold frame, kale unprotected, and collards with their protective buckets for cold spells.

Back in December after the neighborhood kids and I had harvested the carrots and celebrated Carrot Day I did nothing to give back to the soil. To be good to the soil a gardener needs to be continuously adding and giving back and it is selfish and unwise to leave the earth bare in any season, including winter. The central focus of regenerative gardening is to protect the soil from washing away and to create conditions where the soil can develop a healthy and carbon capturing ecosystem. In this case of the carrot bed I have not done that and the degrading of the soil is clear to me in the photo below.

Bare ground where carrots had grown in 2021

Only once since the carrots were harvested have I tried to collect seaweed. None was there the day that I went. But there have been many days when I did not go and there were a huge gifts from the sea that I did not take. 

October 30th in Hull and the gift of seaweed not taken

My goal this week is to keep checking and when there is seaweed to lay it on top of the garden.

I hope you can read King today and I hope you can read Braiding Sweetgrass someday. King and Kimmerer’s words are gifts that are there to be accepted. May we all embrace the “gift economy” and the notion that, the more gifts are shared, the more value and love there is in the world.

The seeds have been shipped to me from Fedco but they have not yet arrived here but I can’t wait to send them to all of you when they do come! And I promise to give back to the soil and I hope you do so too, no matter if “your soil” is in your garden or in “your community.”

Carrot DAYS 2021

I first started celebrating Carrot Day with the Kindergarten, First and Second Grade students in the Garden Project at the South Shore Charter School in about 1998. In 1998 it was a small thing and I did not yet know about the flavor of frost kissed carrots. Carrot Day in its essence is all about a small thing. You plant carrot seeds in the spring and you tend them all summer and come fall and frost you harvest them. It takes land, time, patience, diligence (thinning carrots is no picnic) and then the reward comes, a really great frost kissed carrot.

It is simple.

That simplicity is Carrot Days’ beauty. I have been doing it with students and friends long enough that I have seen how “simple” can matter as folks start gardening and growing their own and the taste of a really good carrots is the catalyst.

The thrill of pulling a carrot out of the ground and wondering “is it going to be big” or “is it going to be tiny” matters.

This year there was a new wrinkle as I celebrated Carrot Day with high school students. I had never gardened with high school student before. The X-Block Gardeners from the Community Charter School of Cambridge (CCSC), most of them seniors, showed me that joy in school is not reserved for the youngest students. Carrot Day at CCSC was as joyous and loving as the Carrot Days I remember celebrating with elementary school students at South Shore. You can see it in their masked faces and I could hear it in their voices. To pull food from the ground and to be in touch with the cycle of sowing and reaping matters no matter the age.

At CCSC on June 18th I planted carrots with a fifth grade student soon to be a new CCSC sixth grader in the fall. 168 days later on December 3rd she and the high school X-Block Gardeners picked and cleaned the carrots. We picked and washed about 200, later that afternoon we ate them and by the end of that day they were all gone. It really is a wonderful feeling to have eighth grade students come up to you and ask, “Do you have anymore carrots?” The next day an eighth grade boy, who often asks me if I have any candy, came up to me and asked if I had any carrots. I had to tell him no they were all gone.

Here are some of the words of the CCSC X-Block Gardeners:

I enjoyed going to the garden and digging up the carrots.  My favorite part was finding very large carrots.  One highlight was seeing the reactions on my friends’ faces when they picked big carrots. — Last Friday gave me a chance to spend quality time with my current X block buddies.  It is senior year and I was able to take a break from my studious learning to pick carrots together with Mr. Hirsch and my X-Block Buddies.  Who else is doing it like us! Period!!!! — The carrots were nice.  After eating the carrots it was nice to clean up with everybody else in X-Block.

Not bad to have a high school student celebrating cleaning up and to make it even better they finished the cleaning after I left to go teach another class!

One of the concepts of Carrot Day is anyone can do it at any school or any garden. One person who really embraced Carrot Day this year was Christine Godfrey, the librarian at the South Elementary School in Plymouth. Here is what Christine wrote about their Carrot Day at South Elementary School:

The children were thrilled to pull the carrots. I stood outside and a fellow teacher brought out class after class of second graders to me to pull the carrots. Five classes in all. They had planted these carrots as first graders, and of course everyone thought they recognized “their” carrot, lol!  In all we pulled 72 HUGE carrots. I mean, I’ve grown carrots at home before and had success, but these were like nothing I’ve ever seen! 
Then the day came to actually TASTE the carrots and they were beside themselves.  Out of about 125 children only about 3 opted out of tasting. And almost all of them LOVED the carrots! Many, many had second helpings. 

Carrot Day is also a family event and some of you sent me pictures of your carrots and two of you sent me pictures of your children and their carrots.

But Carrot Day is not only about big carrots and plentiful harvests it is also about trying. Our neighbors wrote this: “I think the soil wasn’t too good this year, since it was cultivated first time. But the carrots taste good. We like them. Also I will make a side dish from carrot greens for tomorrow. We are so grateful to be able to put food on the table from our own garden.
Thank you for the seeds and thank you for the gardening advice. Hopefully I will do better next year. We will get more seaweed this weekend.”

There are two more Carrot Day Celebrations I want to honor.

On Sunday December 5th we had Carrot Day at 41 Western Ave in Hull with the neighborhood kids and their grownups. There were seven children and seven grownups. It was simple. We pulled carrots, we ate carrots, and the children played and the adults talked. An hour later and the children were still playing and still eating their really big carrots.

I need to end this blog with deep thanks to June Fontaine who continues to celebrate Carrot Day at South Shore Charter, the birth place of Carrot Day. Below is a an excerpt of what she wrote about South Shore’s Carrot Day:

Last spring the garden became a special place to gather during the pandemic. The crops grown were cucumbers, pumpkins and carrots. All three crops did well.  …. We waited until the first frost to harvest the carrots, Excitement was in the air among all the children on Carrot Day.  Cries of “We have another baby carrot!’ could be heard as frequently as exclamations about bigger carrots.  We decorated paper bags to send the surplus carrots to a local food pantry with a group of our middle school students, just in time for Thanksgiving!  Several of those students had been in the Garden Project when they were in first and second grade, so they were happy to be connected with that once again. We were so glad the carrots would be enjoyed by the wider community. A special thanks to Derik for keeping the garden up and running during the pandemic, and to the families who helped out with watering and weeding during the summer break. We’re looking forward to carrot day, 2022 already!

Be well and join us for Carrot Day in 2022, I am ordering seeds soon and would love to send you seeds come spring.

Fedco Seed Catalog and Waiting

November 17th

Thanksgiving is about a week away and we here in Hull have not yet had a solid frost. The ten-day forecast does not predict a frost before Thanksgiving.

Sad.

That is difficult news for me and other lovers of frost-kissed carrots. Over the past twenty or so Thanksgiving I have eaten really good homegrown carrots, not this year as I wait for the gift of frost on carrot flavor. It also is bad news as it is yet again another sign of the warming climate and the need for changes in how we eat and how we live.

Left to right middle step: radishes, turnips, rainbow radishes, carrots, cherry tomatoes, radishes, butter lettuce, collards top step: sorrel and chard, bottom step: carrot tops.

With the new pattern of seasons, the garden is different and the picture above is of the big harvest I had last weekend — a harvest I am glad of even though it has ominous undercurrents of future disasters.

I do have three cold frames going to extend the tender plants’ harvest and for seeds to grow for winter and early spring harvests.

Thinking of spring gets me to thinking about seeds and what should come in the mail today but my Fedco Seed Catalog. (You can use the link on “Fedco Seed Catalog” to request your own.) I love the catalog as it is its own bigger version of this blog. They on a much grander scale are doing climate work with sentences such as, “May you and your gardens thrive in the year to come, growing in beauty, durability and resilience!”

Nice to know we are in this work together with others and Carrot Day is a small piece of a movement to get more folks to grow their own food and to share the gift of land with others. Each small piece of work we do for our soil and our climate is a step. And we have to take the steps that we can.

I leave you with this gallery of pictures from our Hull garden and please let me know how your carrots are.

Please send pictures of your celebrations!

Butternut Squash and Cold

Back in Late August I wrote:

Right now my big interplanting excitement is a single butternut squash plant. Sometime in late June, I put in some seeds on the edge of the garden right at the corner where the flowers, mint, and vegetables coexist.  I did not see the butternut squash for weeks.  But a single seed germinated and lived and one day while picking cucumbers I saw the plant.  …. Well, the cucumbers are now gone and the squash is taking over the cucumber’s space and the space of the tansy and mint.  The butternut squash has grown to twenty feet in one direction and ten in the other.  It is growing amongst and over the tansy, asters, zinnias, black-eyed Susans, and mint. It seems to grow almost a foot a day.  But not all is well with that butternut squash plant as the first leaves are starting to die off and I fear that disease may be moving fast as well.  Will the plant produce 10 – 12 beautiful butternuts or two of three that exist now and will mature even if the plant dies?  I don’t know but I am very curious to find out. I am not that hopeful about the butternuts but also not that worried as I am not dependent on those squash for survival.

My Butternut Squash, August 28 — In the picture are also mint, zinnias, black-eyed susans, sunflowers, pole beans, and tomatoes.

Well in was a battle between the butternut squash and the disease and the squash won!

My Butternut Squash, October 19th — The tomatoes are mostly over for the season. the sunflowers are brown, and only some of the zinnias survive but the mint, sorrel, and the butternut squash continue to thrive.

At the end of August I was unsure about the butternut squash’s chances and while other squash in the neighborhood in other gardens have now died off this butternut squash has thrived. It is now 75 feet in length and with six big beautiful butternuts and one or two small ones that I am fairly certain have been pollinated and are on their way. Most of these squash were pollinated by insects but as I tired of seeing promising squash embryos turn yellow and fall off undeveloped, I started to hand pollinate the flowers.

To hand pollinate a squash you take the male flower and brush its stamen on the female flower’s pistil. I did this to about eight female flowers and got two or three new squash.

The male flower with the single stamen in the photo on the left, the female flower with the three part pistil inside and the squash embryo below it in the middle photo, and the same female flower from the side with a clear profile of the squash embryo in the bigger photo on the right.

From left to right: just pollinated, maturing, almost ripe butternut squashes.

Well it is not just me who watches the butternut squash plant and the butternut squashes in my garden. My friend Catherine tells me she checks it out when she walks by to see how it is doing and my neighbor’s children, aged 5 and 7, are keeping track too. They will come over at the end of the day to talk to me about the squash and to look and see how many squash they can find. The kids may also ask for some chard, or a beet. They know vegetables are special and worthy to be gifts. They know better than to ask for a carrot. They know about Carrot Day and the value of waiting for the frost and talk about Carrot Day as if it was a prominent holiday.

When Carrot Day happens is dependent on the weather. But I expect it will be before Thanksgiving and I hope you do celebrated Carrot Day.

Please send me pictures of your carrots, your children and your celebrations when the big day does come.

May we all do our part to get our selves, our friends and neighbors, and their children to celebrate the garden, growing vegetables and doing our part to grow our own. Let’s combat global warming by sequestering carbon in our soil. That is if we are fortunate enough to have soil. If you do have a yard please think of those who do not have any land and sequester carbon not only for yourself but for your friends without soil.

News from California

September 10, 2021

This time of year, the tomatoes are usually laden down on the vines, begging to be picked and turned into tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, gazpacho, or just sliced and eaten with a pinch of salt. Late summer turning into fall, the garden is exploding, while winter crops and green-topped carrots grow patiently above and below the soil surface, promising continued nourishment in the dark and quiet months to come. However, on some small farms in California, there are no tomatoes to be picked, no vegetable bounty to carry to local farmer’s markets. The state of the drought is so severe that irrigation ponds did not fill up, or the local jurisdictions cut off water access to some farm properties. This is the case for Green Valley Farm in Sebastopol, CA, tucked into a valley among redwoods and nearby rivers and creeks, all of which have run dry. Here I am, leading a course about climate change and regenerative agriculture, bearing witness with the host farmers and eight participants to the very impacts we are seeking to better understand, adapt to, and mitigate.

We have been gathered here at the farm for 10+ days, working on the land in the morning in a variety of capacities (tending perennial beds, moving animals, milking cows, making cheese, harvesting herbs, lining new pond projects with clay to hold water that will hopefully come in the winter), and learning about climate change intersections with farming in the afternoons. It’s part of a new experiment in land-based climate change education, bringing people together onto a piece of farmland to connect the dots between farmers and non-farmers working to address the challenges of climate change. With veggies from nearby farms, meat, eggs and dairy products from Green Valley, and homemade sourdough bread in plentiful supply its not like we’re suffering here too much, but the realities and challenges of this drought year and fire season are ever-present on people’s minds, a backdrop to the pastoral and idyllic setting with bone dry grasses begging for rain.

“Climate change is a self-created problem turned opportunity that we must now embrace,” said one of our Climate Farm School speakers from a local Resource Conservation District, hosting a workshop on soil carbon. What does this mean for your garden? Intercrop, grow a diversity of things, incorporate perennials, incorporate animals even if they are worms or other insects demonstrating that there is life in the soil, and above all keep your soil covered! Put down a layer of straw or seaweed, or plant a cover crop of rye, fava beans, vetch, and oats over the winter. Put some garlic in the ground and straw mulch around it, so you might have some delicious garlic scapes and bulbs to harvest next summer.

What thrives in drought conditions? What survives? There are still grapes on the vines waiting to be harvested, apples and pears on the trees, though maybe a few less than a good year. Perennials can do ok, limiting their energy towards fruiting and leaf production and instead focusing inward, drawing strength from their deep root systems and stores of nutrients several feet below the soil surface. My Indian colleagues tell me to plant millets in California, because they are such a drought resilient and nutritionally dense form of sustenance. But we don’t have many millets in the farms around me in Sonoma County, or elsewhere in California for that matter; we have almond trees and alfalfa fields, and tomatoes and lettuce and other crops no longer suited for the changing climatic conditions and extremes, and water limitations we are facing across the state. How do we get back on course, back in planting rhythms that are more in harmony and taking cues from our regional climate and native ecology? What aspects of native plant science are still relevant, and do we need to look to native plant regimes further south for guidance on what should happen in a climate-changed future California? I would like to plant millets in my garden next spring, and maybe some amaranth and drought-resilient plant varieties saved from seeds of what did ok this year, under such challenging conditions.  

As the time draws closer to Carrot Day 2021, that day of the first frost when patient gardeners will pull frost-kissed carrots out of the ground and eat them in celebration of the soil’s fertility, I am especially grateful for the gift of carrots. I don’t take them for granted, because they might not be able to be planted every year, everywhere. The Green Valley farmers might not have their own farm carrots this year, but there are other farms nearby with better water resources who might be willing to share. There is community, and generosity of spirit, and so much strength in human relationship, and I suspect those relationships also increase in strength when there is soil involved. When people come together to plant, weed, harvest, and eat together, something amazing happens: we collectively experience the power and magic of our connection to the Earth, how good it feels to have our hands in the soil, and so much generosity and mutual support springs from that collective energy. That’s at least how it’s felt having the participants of the first Climate Farm School course here at Green Valley, digging and cooking and eating together, and forming a very strong sense of community and empowerment towards collective action on climate solutions.

This fall, as we prepare to focus inwards and slow down our activities in line with winter’s shorter days and colder temperatures, consider keeping a small book shelf alive with further readings on climate change and food systems, talk to your friends, family and local farmers about what it means to farm and eat “regeneratively,” and make a personal commitment to growing and sourcing food in a way that mitigates climate change by sequestering more carbon in our most vital natural resource: the soil. I’ll be heading back East to Rhode Island in another month or so, to check on my family’s garden plot in Tiverton and hopefully pull up some carrots and put in some garlic. I’ll leave a nice layer of seaweed on the ground and some cover crop seeds buried underneath. And I’ll look to start up some conversations about the Climate Farm School courses that could happen on the East Coast next year.

Enjoy those carrots pulled from the ground in another 6 to 8 weeks!   

Laney Siegner, Ph.D., Director of Academic Programs and Climate Farm School course creator at Terra.do

September

Well, it is already September, somehow the August Post never got written but the carrots did not care.  They grew and grew.

On August 28th I began the transition to the fall garden.  I picked the last of the cucumbers and put in beets, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and turnips seeds. The big news, for this post, of that day’s gardening is that I did some selective thinning of the carrots.  That selective thinning’s main goal was the future — bigger and better carrots on Carrot Day, but I did get some nice carrots to use right then.

Over the past three or four years, I have been developing my knowledge of interplanting. It began for me as a way to get more out of each inch of the garden. As different vegetables mature at different rates the bed can be maximized for production.  For example, by the time the kale is mature and in need of a great deal of space the radishes and lettuce have had their time and are no longer competing for light, water, and nutrients.  

Right now my big interplanting excitement is a single butternut squash plant. Sometime in late June, I put in some seeds on the edge of the garden right at the corner where the flowers, mint, and vegetables coexist.  

I did not see the butternut squash for weeks.  But a single seed germinated and lived and one day while picking cucumbers I saw the plant.  My friend Katherine was there when I first discovered the larger squash leaves among the smaller cucumber leaves.  We celebrated the discovery together. We laughed and found glory in that sole squash plant and what it might bring come fall. That sense of sharing and hoping is what Carrot Day is all about. Developing a sense of community and encouraging each other.

Well, the cucumbers are now gone and the squash is taking over the cucumber’s space and the space of the tansy and mint.  The butternut squash has grown to twenty feet in one direction and ten in the other.  It is growing amongst and over the tansy, asters, zinnias, black-eyed Susans, and mint. It seems to grow almost a foot a day.  But not all is well with that butternut squash plant as the first leaves are starting to die off and I fear that disease may be moving fast as well. 

Will the plant produce 10 – 12 beautiful butternuts or two of three that exist now and will mature even if the plant dies?  I don’t know but I am very curious to find out. I am not that hopeful about the butternuts but also not that worried as I am not dependent on those squash for survival.

In another part of the garden, I am training my Sungold and Black Cherry tomato plants to climb up to our porch.  Tropical Storm Ida had other ideas and set the tomatoes back some but I am hopeful about reaching over our porch rail and eating a tomato.  Fingers crossed.

Our next post will be written by Laney Siegner, a teacher of farming and carbon sequestration, and she tells me that interplanting is supported by science as a way to maximize the health of the garden and farm and to improve soil, and to sequester more carbon in that soil.

I got started interplanting because I am a competitive gardener. I want the garden to produce more food this year than last year.  Things don’t always work out.  Sometimes it is too wet, sometimes too dry, or too cold or too hot, sometimes there is disease and insect damage.  The only thing we as gardeners can really work and succeed with is our soil.  When our soils improve, more carbon is sequestered, and not only will we be doing our part to lessen climate change, eventually the conditions will be right for more food to share from our own labors.

It feels good to try to get the most out of the land and feed friends and family. Here is to a celebration of surplus shared! That is what Carrot Day is about — celebrating the taste of a really good carrot with friends. Let’s try to spread that joy to all of our vegetables one garden and one child at a time.

Thinning Carrots

It has been over six weeks since my last post and in that time I have become a grandfather. Our daughter Cleo and her husband Josh had a baby on June 24th.  What a blessing. Well here in Massachusetts it has been plenty wet enough for good carrot germination and growth.  And like all things you can have too much of a good thing and June was one of the wettest on record.

That meant that there were also a lot of weeds to pull and carrots to thin.

This year I again interplanted carrots and radishes but I used alternating rows. In the past I had broadly cast the seeds for a solid bed of carrots. I found that when I had good germination I did not give each carrot enough space as I did not thin aggressively enough.   I am trying rows this year because I wanted bigger carrots and by using rows I could more easily assure each plant enough space.

Well, using rows has certainly great for the radishes. I have been falling in love with radishes more every year and they have been really, really good this year.  I slice them on a mini mandoline and then make an instant pickle with apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, salt and water.  They make any salad or sandwich better…

I have been reading carrot experts who talk about progressive thinning.  Progressive thinning means you thin and then later you thin and harvest.  This method optimizes yield and minimize the need for patience.  It is still a long, long way from the frost and eating the thinnings in August will makes waiting for frost easier for me. The carrots in the pictures below were planed last fall at the CCSC school garden and grew under a cold frame all winter. On the left are some of the thinnings; they are not frost kissed but they are very good.

Rabbits have been doing very well the past few years in Hull but my garden has been protected by our cat Pepper.  Pepper was a hunter and brought us rabbit corpses to our back door mat regularly.  Carrot Day Post are not typically conveyors of bad news but today I tell you that Pepper fell victim to coyotes and while the rabbits stayed away for three weeks they have discovered that the garden is now unprotected.  So today I will instal a small fence around the carrot bed.

With love and hope you are thinning and weeding your carrots and are able to protect them from the bunnies and other predators.

Ted 

June 1

Well it has been a  while since I last wrote and I hope you, your family and your gardens are doing well.

In May, Katy and I were blessed with visits from all three of our children and their partners. Each pair stayed for a little over a week  and we had lovely weekend overlaps. I am pleased to say the garden kept up with the crowd and fed us greens and radishes all month.

Yesterday I put carrot seeds in the ground and I am hoping to see them up and in about ten days or two weeks.  I planted them with rows of radishes in between as my mother advised me to do in my childhood gardening days.

Furrows for the carrot seeds (and a few radish seeds too)

It is not too late to plant post-frost carrots and I still have seeds to send out if you are interested and I would love to get closer to the goal of sending out seeds to 80 folks.  Here is the form if you want to order the seeds.

Be well and grow food if you can.

Carrots planted and protected from the cat by sticks with the flowers that surround the garden

April Eve

Here in Massachusetts it is officially spring and has been spring for a few days now. Two days ago I took these pictures of bulbs in our yard at 41 Western Ave in Hull. Our crocuses have never looked better and the chionodoxa lucilea flowers are also nice reminders of “the more” that is to come in April.

Other than the photographs included here, my only message today is that I hope you use the form below to order your free carrot seeds.

I am hoping to get 80 folks to sign up and we are at 25 now. Order your seeds here.

These pictures were taken on Monday. The cold frame kale is seen here in all its spring glory, and cold frame turnip is tempting too, but I think I will let the turnip get a bit bigger before I harvest it and well, the collards, I am just hoping.

I ate some kale leaves last night for dinner and they were unbelievably good. While collards are the heartiest of these three plants, not having the protection of a cold frame shows in their browns leaves. I am hoping I might get a few collard leaves anyway before this springs planting is ready to eat as the collards roots may have survived — time will tell.

May we all be kind to ourselves and give our collards and ourselves space and tolerance, every little bit that we give and produce matters.

Happy Spring and happy gardening.

ted

March First

Right before I started to write this post I took some photographs to document the garden and my state of mind.

When I was fifteen I spent a summer living with my Uncle Henry and his partner Mary, both potters. My mother knew that aspects of school were hard for me and admired how I made things. She thought living with her brother would be just right for me, and she was right–it was life changing. As I prepared to write this post I went to take some photographs of my cold-frames. While I was taking the pictures I was reminded of a story my Uncle Henry told me that summer. He saw me peering into a kiln before it had properly cooled. Henry laughed and said that I reminded him of the story of a famous Japanese potter who in his late seventies was out peering into his kiln before it was cool. It is hard to wait for a cooling kiln and it is hard to wait for spring.

I went out and peered in the cold frames to take the pictures below of arugula, lettuce, and kale. I was not surprised that the arugula and kale had survived the winter, but that head of butter lettuce and how good it looked did surprise me. I had picked almost all of the lettuce in early January but had left a couple of plants as an experiment. Well, the lettuce did just fine. I think we had enough snow cover when it was really cold so snow and the cold-frame kept it nice and blanketed.

By the end of March the cold frames will be off the kale and perhaps the arugula as well, and substantial food will be coming out of the garden.

But the big news around here is that the Fedco Seed box arrived! It was a hard year to order seeds from Fedco due to a huge demand and it took over a week and two delightful telephone calls with a great person at Fedco to help me place my order, which included seven ounces of carrot seeds. Google tells me that there are anywhere from 11,300 to 34,000 carrot seeds in every ounce, so I have between 80,000 and 240,000 carrot seeds and I want to get them out to you!

My goal is that 80 of you will request seeds. Here is the seed order form to get your seeds and to join Carrot Day 2021!

Be well and keep in touch,

Love Ted