Saturday, September 18, 2010

Green Things

In the endless attempt to grow a decent garden, this year's planting is now underway. On time, no less! As our northern neighbors head toward their last harvests, we are just now poking the earth to life down here in the sunny south. Our compost pile this year finally produced some nice-looking soil, and a fat herd of wriggly earthworms, courtesy of the summer rains. Two of the four garden boxes have been topped up and amended with some organic inputs—bone and blood, basically, with fish emulsion to come.  Yes, I know, "Ew."  Our garden may be organic; it's certainly not vegan.  But, I can't deny the power of stinking fish emulsion to produce some happy, healthy plants, so in it will go at a very awkward arm's-length from me.

The other two boxes still need de-rooting from last year, which is a backbreaking task that I will put off as long as possible because I'm just that way about backbreaking tasks. Unfortunately, that means putting it off until the very late date of . . . tomorrow.  After running.  And blueberry pancakes.  And anything else I can think of.

So far, I've put down four types of tomatoes (two of each, how Noahidistic), along with broccoli, an eggplant, the first of the lettuces and some sugar snap peas that seem a little disinclined to participate in the whole "growing" thing.  A quarter of one box and two more total boxes await later rotations of lettuces, more broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and possibly another attempt at Brussels sprouts.  Strawberries will go in the oldest box elsewhere in the yard. And, this year, I'd also like us to build a deep box for carrots.  I figure that if you're going to continue your long history of gardening failures, you might as well go all-in and try everything.  The worst thing that happens is the same thing that happens to most of my gardening every year, but the best thing that happens is tasty.  It's worth a shot.

Clicking on the title of this post will take you to a previous entry that has a rough planting guide, if you're interested in what grows when around here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Busting Out

If you've ever seen Sir David Attenborough's stunning "Planet Earth," you might recall the footage of the Arctic. More specifically, you might remember the sight of a massive, smooth slope of snow unbroken by any trace of life, until, quite unexpectedly, a polar bear pokes out a paw and then a nose and blinks into the light of day. This polar bear has been hibernating, but spring has come at last. It's time to wake to the big, wide world and do those things that polar bears do all day long.

Substitute the flat, heavy, deadening blanket of an overheated Florida summer for that chilly slope, put my lumbering self in the place of that surprisingly agile bear and you have me, this morning, running around Crescent Lake Park. Why, what's this? My shoulders straightened a bit. I breathed in air that didn't stick on the way down. I felt stray, sweaty hairs lift in a slightly cooler breeze and I knew.  It's coming.  IT.  The other half of the year wherein the electricity doesn't come from the too-near lightning of a raging tropical downpour but, rather, from the energizing sparkle of dry-air static and easy breathing and the getting done of things. My whole being blinked.

Now, I've lived here for three decades and have seen more than a few Thanksgivings with temperatures around the 90-degree mark. The heat isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But that little breeze was a reminder that, amidst the chaos of the everyday, our planet is just chugging along on its regular path and is finally—finally!—coming around to what I selfishly esteem The Good Half of the Orbit. All this nonsense about wet and dry seasons; the reality of that orbit 'round these parts is that you have the Doing Season and the Wilting Season, and it is finally time to get up off the fainting couch and get busy.

Perhaps it's no wonder that Florida is an odd place, given that we bust out of the proverbial snowbank just as so much of the nation gets ready to hibernate under it. We have a peskily inconvenient latitude for a northern hemisphere country. We're like the third shift of the nation, always off the regular schedule and wondering why we can't find fried chicken when everyone else is eating breakfast cereal.

For me, I'm just happy that the alarm has gone off and I recognized, as I do every year around now in my own annual processional, that it's time to wake up.  After the long sleep of summer, it's an exciting feeling not only to want to get things done, but also to feel like you can find the energy to do them.