Notes from Windward: #68


Watching the Garden Grow

Katie shares some observations

     Having spent a few days in Portland, a place where I can do pretty much anything at any time, I came back to Windward with a refreshed sense of living on nature's schedule,and being guided by the time of year, the time of day. Even in the short time I was gone, there have been some noticeable changes. The baby rabbits are now more like adolescents, and two have been moved to new cages to be future mamas. Our new chicks already have distinguishable wing feathers. The seeds that I planted in vermidise sprouted in less than a week, and the seedlings in propagation greenhouse have 2-3 sets of real leaves and are ready to graduate to their permanent homes. The oak leaves are starting to turn bright orange, the ground stays wet in the morning, and prop house is no longer getting up in the hundreds during the day.

     All of these changes occurred with no input from anyone, according to some subtle seasonal instruction, and in the fullness of their own time. Although autumn is a busy time, and its tempting to get as much done as possible before winter arrives, there really is something to be said for observation and evaluation. There is a reason why certain things happen at a certain time, and it doesn't work to fight the intricate system, and impose our own time limits on projects. In the week before I left Windward I really took this to heart, and spent some time contemplating the progress and planning of my projects.

     I've been watching my first healthy batch of seedlings for a couple of weeks now and was excited to see the radishes and bok choy growing very fast. Finally it was time to move them to larger containers, to make room for their roots, and for a second round of seedlings in the flats. I'm waiting for more of the bok choy to develop so I can prepare a whole bed for them, but 9 radish plants went into the main garden, along with 8 cabbage seeds, since they are regarded as companion plants.


     I also planted some cabbage seeds in flats to see if they do any better. My other baby plants are coming along too, most notably the beets and arugula, and everyday I notice a little more color to their leaves and length to their stems. The experimental tomatoes are also almost 3in tall, and ready to be moved to large pots, which will be safe in prop house for the winter.The newest seedlings in vermidise sprouted long before I expected, which gave me some insight about succession planting in there. It seems like the older plants will not have developed enough for harvest before the newest seeds sprout, so its probably a better idea to start them as seedlings also,and then transplant them into the grow tubes. I will also have to be more careful about the placement of the plants- I sowed some of the first seeds directly under the tubes' drainage holes, so a strong stream of water was uncovering the seeds and immature sprouts. It's this kind of observation that makes me glad that I planted the first set conservatively, instead of rushing to get all the seeds in soil. All and all, I'm pretty impressed with the growing conditions in vermidise.


     My project on edible acorn possibilities has also been stalled until some start falling from the trees. I used this time for some acorn reconnaissance, and found that the most acorns seem to be right on the main property. Opalyn said about one third of the trees should be nut bearing and that seems about right. As i walked from tree to tree I thought about how the skill of remembering the placement of food trees and bushes used to be so important for survival, and also reflected that if my food gathering abilities depended on my eyesight, I would have no chance. Examining the acorns, I was lucky enough to find an acorn weevil. They are a lot bigger than I thought, and I watched as she poked one of those annoying holes in the shell. The weevils insert their eggs into the acorn, where they hatch into the worms we find inside, which then eat their way out. It was very interesting.


     Another note on our interests vs. nature's interests: I came home to find that some creature had knocked over my jar of acorns trying to get at them, and it just reinforced the idea that of all the survival instincts at play here, mine isn't of concern to anyone but me. I feel like there is an unconscious thought that crops, trees, animals are ultimately here for human benefit, but in this situation the squirrel got to eat, the oak got its seed spread around, and the only one to lose anything was the clever humans.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 68