Week 7: Spring Smackdown

I tore out of the gate this Monday after a leisurely breakfast with the crew and Jim, the maple syrup guy. (He usually stops in on Mondays and the last time I reported this I mistakenly called him Dave). I began at the hospital garden with transplanting which took the better half of the morning. I then rotated back to Pepperfield and began the process of setting up planting beds for corn. This was the usual procedure of laying manure and tilling it into the ground. With corn, since the plot of land required is so large, there is no leaf mulch. This process resulted in a few hard hours of work and 11 prepared corn rows. Keeping with the theme I tested a Corn Gateau and we all sat down for a relaxed early dinner. Ellis invited me along for an evening morel hunt, which I graciously accepted and we set off into the woods until the light faded away. But alas, the hunt was fruitless. Tuesday was predominantly occupied by potato planting. This involved tilling the ground, digging a series of small holes, dropping the sprouted potatoes in with sprouts towards the sky before backfilling them into place. We started at one end of the plot and worked backwards to prevent other beds from getting trampled in the process, exactly how you mop a floor. I took a quick break in between some of this for lunch but resumed it shortly after. Upon completion I moved a little manure and prepared one row of beds for turnips and rutabagas. Dinner was simple composed of leftovers. The next day brought bean planting. I learned a lot about the different categories and requirements from David and then began by sowing seeds in trenches along the trellises. I only tackled half of the planting and then moved onto setting up beds for tomatoes. It was the usual drill of manure, tilling and mulching. Fortunately these rows are much smaller so I completed it quickly and then proceeded to move onto the actual transplants. Birte was in on this and we made quick work of the whole thing. David ran off to go pick up some guests from the airport and I spent that time collecting dirt for potted plants. We called it an early day as David’s friend Tess arrived for a dandelion green harvest. We all gathered for an early wine time and spent a few hours conversing over italian wine, an assortment of homemade pickles, preserves and cheeses and various breads. Our guests departed and Ellis prepared fish cakes for dinner that were fantastic.

First thing Thursday I made a sourdough starter. Then I finished up the tomato transplants starting with the beds and then moved onto some weeding. Most of our weeding is easy, it can be done with the tiller or hoes, both of which are simple and fast. Our biggest nuisance is quack grass, it is rhizomatous which means it has deep thick roots that if left in the ground will sprout again. I was tasked with digging out these beasts which took a solid hour. Both David and I were exhausted so we elected to take a quick nap before getting back into things. It was only a brief 45 minutes but it was refreshing. I got back to the garden and began planting bush beans. These don’t require trellises so it was just like sowing seed for a regular crop. Again with Birte’s help, we tore through four rows of planting and called it quits. David made a vegetable lasagna, the same one I enjoyed upon my arrival at Pepperfield and it was just as good as I remember. Friday graced me with more weeding. I fought back the quack grass and creeping charley in the flower patch and then turned over the soil in it. I finished the bean planting and then David and I crafted a bean teepee. This was cool, both the construction and concept have given me some great insight for future gardening. I got a start on corn planting only completing one row before it was time to stop. I harvested some spinach for the week and baked a couple loaves of sourdough; they were good but in my opinion, not as good as the last. We all spent Saturday at the hospital garden. Ellis and I arrived first and started with some some weeding. When David and Birte arrived we formed a symphony of workers each tasked with a different component. Within a few hours we had all of our work completed. My job was mulching the tilled beds with composted leaves. Truth be told I had a relatively easy job compared to my other teammates. Once I got my task completed I helped Birte finish up the transplants. We all departed for lunch and afterwards I resumed corn planting back at Pepperfield. Dinner offered a brief taste – and smell – of summer as I grilled off chicken quarters and marinated potatoes over the grill. The rich aromas of charcoal, roasting meat and wood smoke bombarded our small valley filling it with a glorious combination of smells that were reminiscent of summer. Sunday was predicted to rain so we all spent the day indoors on domestic tasks. Mid-morning, after an absence of said rain, David decided to do some flower transplants. It was a quick hour of work. It was before noon and I decided to run off to town to catch a movie. I was pleasantly surprised that my admission was only six dollars. I got back to Pepperfield mid-afternoon and I got changed for a graduation party. One of David’s friend’s kid, Rye, had graduated high school and Birte, David and I spent the evening at the party with pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, grilled vegetables and an assortment of snacks. Even with a relaxed Sunday was was exhausted from a busy week; I departed for bed at 7.30 and slept for 12 hours.

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