Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Garden --What's new

The garden is almost in, everything except that patch of reclaimed ground across the driveway. Many things are different this year, as I adapt to a changing climate and a changing family.

I'm trying out some things that we used to think were too heat loving for our area. I have planted peanuts, sweet potatoes and okra for the first time this year. I am also paying much more attention to building the soil and using green manures, planting buckwheat on the part that I won't plant until later and planting the paths in white clover instead of just letting them stay bare ground. My timing is good on that last part as we have had more than our share of rain this spring, but I was really thinking of the atmosphere, as the only method of carbon sequestration that makes any sense to me is the old fashioned method, putting carbon back into the soil.

Here in Leelanau we have lots of carbon-deprived soil to restore. While visitors think of our area as relatively pristine, when I survey my soil I'm reminded of the history of Northern Michigan. It was once primeval forests, but around the turn of the last century the penninsula was strip mined for its trees, leaving nothing but sand once the rains came. My garden soil is rare for its higher organic matter content, but if I let a patch lay bare for any time at all the peat blows away leaving a surface coating of sand.

I used to think that when I neglected my soil I was only hurting myself. Thinking of keeping the atmosphere healthier by building the soil is something new, a new motivation to do what has long been the right thing.

Liz is working up the road at Meadowlark Farm this summer, a Community Supported Agriculture truck farm. In many cases she is now helping to produce food for the same families she has known as babysitter, church member, and schoolmates. When I knew she was going to work there I changed my plans a little, focusing on trying new things as I know that she will bring home plenty of the old standbys when they come in season. Last winter we really wished we had more frozen pesto, dried sweet peppers and dried zucchini so I planted more of those.

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