I find myself constantly lured out into the garden. I'm lured for many reasons--to work through problems and to ask more questions. I'm also to catch up on public
radio episodes, which, by the way, brings up an odd question: If we continue to build gardens and live up to the standards of the Victory Garden Era
I'm learning that finding a space for growing my own food is just about the most productive form of procrastination I have at hand these days. My neighbors (who see me, but never greet me) must think I'm obsess with venturing to the backyard plot to wander through the rows. But oh, the beauty of agricultural procrastination. Farming and gardening is tough work--always has been a labor of love, according to the anthropologist Jared Diamond, farming arose around the same time in many areas but the evidence is that the transition from hunting and gathering lifestyles to ones of cultivation did not rapidly occur--nor was it a smooth, linear transition. In fact, Diamond painted a picture of early farmers who lived rougher, more involved, and nutritionally less balanced existences than their counterparts who wandered the forest and grasslands. My errant trips to the garden and the procrastination ("the time to think" and "be" you might say) leads me to believe part of the appeal of farming is this sort of -- for lack of a better word -- procrastination that coaxed humans toward an otherwise illogical endeavor ... hmmph.
I've naturally come upon a style of unsolicited placement. Maybe it's because I'm finding fava beans to be a pride and joy ... something to plant ANYWHERE. They are the elephant of my eye, growing so triumphantly (see the photo below) that I catch myself finding a space for their quarter-sized seeds in just about any uncultivated hollow.
Between the snap peas ... sure. Next to the zucchini hills ... why not? Such is my thought process.
Helped out by these leguminous winners, my gardening style has been lead increasingly astray from rows--it's become more akin to the Square Foot Gardener
mantras I adore. Rows seem to be a bit like training wheels. If you're a new gardener, unknowing in the shape and form of unwanted plants, or you find yourself saying something like, "honey, what's this bean-like trumpetting swan of a plant?" ... then rows can help you assess what's food and what's just that...a leafy, trumpetting swan.
But once you know what kind of plants are weeds, and better yet, which plants are young vegglings and how close they grow with comfort (from experience, not the seed packet's strident font), I believe you're ready to set sail for a new type of gardening. Not saying I'm there yet. I was waiting for what seemed like months for one type of plant to mature to find (once it popped up in places I knew weren't planted) that it was not destined to be food at all.
Sometimes experimenting with what you might like (weed or otherwise), may lead you to find that a friend in a weed. Maybe it becomes a colorful or tangy addition to your salad ... or that it draws the pollinating crowd you've awaited. Lambs-quarters (left) and, for my mother, Lemon Balm (right below) are weeds that seem to either overtake the garden or complement its produce when combined in a summer salad. My dad practices "thinning with my teeth" by picking stragglers or crops too bunched together in a row. I've taken up the trade ... but with delicious weeds.
Clover (bottom center) is one of those uncanny nitrogen fixing, pollinating queens of the non-edible world. When I ran a Wiki search, I was surprised to find that they are edible ... heck now that I think about it, I was munching on a few decaying flowerheads the other day. Wiki says, ". White clover flour is sometimes sprinkled onto cooked foods such as boiled rice."
Last thought for the night:
As reported in the Bozeman Chronicle, the 1,000 New Gardens project recently received a $5,000 grant from the Clinton Foundation (thanks to the great writing of Zach Brown and the attendance of many other great Montanans at the Miami Clinton Global Initiative University conference this spring)! These funds will go straight into the project with no cream taken off for wages or trivial pursuits.
Next year, I'm happy to announce, the Bozeman chapter will fund climate-hearty seeds (from Fisher Seeds) for applicants who are low-income ... kinda like the Denver Urban Gardens Free Seeds and Transplants program. We also intend to construct and stock our first neighborhood tool library--by the end of the month with a collection of volunteers. Shoot me an email at 1000newgardensbozeman(at)gmail(dot)com or a ring at (406)214-6664 if you're interested in helping with this excellent project.
Peas and Purple Carrots to you!