The garden, almost cleared of grass

So when I showed up at the garden after going home for a couple weeks, the grass has taken over and was shading the plants! Ridiculous. So I cut the grass before and after work. With hand clippers. I got a lovely blister, but now it’s a nice calloused over patch. AND the garden is no longer shaded by absurdly tall grass. To tell you the truth, clipping the grass by hand was kind of therapeutic, almost like meditation. Plus, Lucy put the grass on the beds to serve as a down-pour protector (rain can wreck exposed soil) and a thin mulch that will decompose over time.

Our new friend, Ivan

After the garden reappeared from the jungle o’ tallness, I discovered our new garden friend Ivan, a PhD. student at Fletcher. He added a raised bed and watered our garden during our absence. He’s a chill guy with gardening experience

and he brings a few tips (did you know carnivore urine keeps away rabbits and other pests?)  His bed is a lovely sight with peas, tomatoes, basil, peppers and more, all very pretty and healthy looking, and most of them grown from peas (because it’s so much cheaper than buying seedlings, he says. This is too true.) I’m excited to have such a dedicated  guy contributing to our mission!

Mariana measuring the angle for the cut. Note the safety goggles!

During the time that I’m not at work or clipping grass by hand or meeting the people with the orderly raised beds in our garden, I’m helping Mariana build the shed! We moved all the wood from Signe’s house to mine in a daring feat of strapping plywood to a car roof and driving a block. It was exhilarating.

Then we (mostly Mariana, she’s the real worker here) harassed the neighbors with the screaming of the saw as we cut the pieces into their destined shapes. There were some struggles… mainly struggles with calculating angles since it IS summer and all, and the skilled math part of the brain usually disappears with the snow.

We paint shed walls white (with primer) wearing black sweatshirts.

But after several days of hard work on Mariana’s part, and some silly painting work by yours truly (I got paint on my back. That takes skill.) the pieces are almost ready to assemble. We’re just waiting on a go-ahead from Facilities (cross your fingers!)

Mariana is standing where we'd like to put the shed, she is small- so keep that in mind for scale

We’d like to put the shed between the path in front of South and the “entrance” to the garden. Why? 1. It’s flat already. 2. It’s out of the way of pedestrians and mowing. 3. We could use the side of the shed as an “info wall” and put up news and information about the garden so passers-by could stop and read about it instead of trekking across the grass (I just imagine some woman in high heels sinking into the ground with every step as she attempts to learn more about this fantastic little garden.)

And my last point for this post: today Gracie and I were joyfully reunited in a very appropriate place: the garden. We checked it out and decided it was time to do some real work.

A rebar and horse fencing solution to tying up tomato plants

We went back to my place, grabbed the hose, the mobile-hose-thing-with-cool-features, horse fencing and some rebar, and, in a feat of strength and endurance, carried it downhill to the garden.

We staked up the tomatoes in a fashion that I learned from my time at Wade’s Mill back home in Virginia (I recommend the yellow grits). One stretch of horse fencing supported by two pieces of rebar can serve many tomato plants, since two sides are accessible. We put up two sections of fencing, tying twine around sections and tucking tomato plants inside of the loops made. It’s hard to describe, so I’d check out a picture.

Some of the many seed packets we still have left (personally, I hope that cilantro never makes it into the garden)

There were some empty-ish patches, and we have a ton of seeds, so we pulled out the packs and determined that it was time to plant some more carrots.

Signe raved about purple carrots, so we seeded those and another variety around the tomato plants. We also replaced a horrible looking basil plant with new basil seeds, hoping a stronger batch will arise to glory.

Gracie watering the salad mix with the nozzle set on "shower"

With little hopeful pods in the ground, we watered the place with our new hose set-up! It was smooth, easy, beautiful, and the adjustable nozzle was a riot (for Gracie at least).

We also harvested some kale and collard greens! As much as I love to garden and cook, I have to admit… I’d never cooked with kale before (and never really cared for it when other people did.)

But today I decided I needed my leafy greens and I was going to get them in the form of kale. Gracie assured me it wasn’t an exact science, which helped my resolution to try it out. But I still needed to follow some direction. So I looked it up on Google.

Fried kale, before the macaroni. Great by itself, even better with some noodles and cheese.

How to cook kale. The first recipe was the one I went with. It was basically fried kale with garlic (recipe: get some oil in a pan. make it hot. add garlic. add kale. fry. eat.) I guess I made kale chips (I later found out that that’s a real thing… but that’s not what I set out to make). And they were incredible with my macaroni and cheese. I completely recommend it.