Category Archives: The Garden

The Fly-By Summer

IMG_0140IMG_0101It’s a strange summer. Slow in getting here, fast in passing. The tomatoes have barely started to ripen and already it is time to pull the onions out of the ground. The weather is confused—dripping hot one day, New England chilly the next night. It’s like summer and fall all at once. But I’m okay with that. I like fall, and I feel a bit disconnected from summer this year.

I can’t complain. Grace and magic and kindness and opportunity have conspired to give me a new farmette business with a little farm stand plunked fortuitously close to the road.

IMG_0127My fencing and irrigation and weed controls are working as planned, so everything (well, most everything) is thriving, and the whole darn thing is actually manageable.

IMG_0133The soil still needs a lot of improvement, so my yields are not what they could be. But the real conundrum is space. The 4000 square feet I carved out this year isn’t enough for the little business to really thrive. 10,000 square feet is a quarter acre, and that would be great, but I can’t necessarily get to that here. I might be able to carve out 2000 more feet, but first I’m going to figure out a way to get a small hoop house built (and hopefully a chicken coop and pen, too). Then perhaps I will lease an extra little bit of land somewhere else next year, and grow more flowers on it. All things to consider this fall!

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I did finally break down and buy a new camera, as my old one died and I’ve been borrowing from friends. I went with the cheapest DSLR I could buy and still get good quality—an older Canon Rebel T5—and I just took it out of the box yesterday.

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IMG_0145So of course the first pictures I took were of tomatoes and flowers–probably my two favorite things about the late summer garden. Fortunately, with our warm fall out here, I’ll have tomatoes and flowers until late October of even early November.

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IMG_0130But I hope I can find some good tomatoes and flowers to enter in the Fair, which is–yikes!–next week! I did say summer was flying by.

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And the last bittersweet sign of changing seasons: The President and First Family arrived for their vacation last weekend. It still thrills me to see the motorcade whiz by, and I will always be grateful that they’ve chosen to come here for their vacations. Now if they’d just stop at the farmstand…

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Building the Market Garden(s)

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This is very cool, I promise, and constitutes the best possible excuse for the delay (again!) in blog posts: We have plowed, tilled, composted, dug, fenced, planted, mulched, and irrigated 4500 square feet of market garden space in exactly two months. During that time, we’ve also harvested from the earliest plantings and even turned a few beds over. (And opened a little farmstand.) I say “we” because I’ve had help from all over in this endeavor, and I feel proud that I set this challenge for myself, made a plan, and then reached out for help at every step of the way.

If you’re interested in a brief overview of how it went, read the timeline below. But life is short, so if you’re like me and in a rush, just take a quick glimpse at the photos (which are a mixed bag, considering I’m still short a camera lens and using an old phone, too!), and you’ll get an idea of the progress.

And then, please come visit the farm stand if (or when) you’re on the Island. I’ll be open every day now, from about 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. (Self-serve.) Many folks don’t realize that I’m not at the old farm and that I’m starting up a new business, so I can use your kind word of mouth to let Islanders and visitors know of my new location. I still have mostly just greens (chard, kale, salad mix, etc.), but peas and squash (and much more) are coming.

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Directions: I’m in West Tisbury on State Road, on the left just past Island Farms Road (a little bit up the road from Vineyard Gardens) if you’re coming from Vineyard Haven. The property has a long stone wall along State Road and two driveways. Take the first driveway (if coming from VH) or the second (if coming from West Tis.). The farm stand is right behind the stone wall. You will see my chalkboard sign on the road. We don’t have a farm name yet, but you’ll see “Sixburnersue” on the farm stand!

The Timeline:

In early April, property owner Trip Barnes and I walked around and decided where the gardens would go. We chose three areas that had enough sunlight (LOTs of trees here) and that could be reached from a water source. There wasn’t just one area big enough for me, so we staked out three. All were covered with sod/grass, meaning they would need a lot of work to become garden beds. There was also a fourth, very small area, that had been a vegetable garden, which I immediately pounced on to get started since it didn’t need to be plowed.

We then set about finding a farmer who could come with a plow and turn the soil over in each of the three spots. (Farmers are pretty short on time in the springtime.)

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On April 24 and 25, farmer Andrew Woodruff of Whippoorwill Farm came out and plowed and tilled each garden area to break the sod apart and loosen the soil to a good depth. (Yay Andrew!)

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Andrew left me with two good-sized piles of compost, which I then shoveled over each garden area. Next I called my friend Jim Costello to come with his powerful rototiller and turn the soil once more. We then had soil that looked plantable. (Yay Jim!)

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The next and biggest challenge was fencing. I quickly erected some temporary fencing around the two smallest gardens so that I could get started on making beds and pathways. (And do things like get an asparagus bed started and onions in the ground!)

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Then I made my fencing plan. I wanted tall (7- to 8-foot) deer fencing around the two bigger gardens and medium-height fencing around the flower garden (the third area). And I wanted to double up on the bottom with 3-foot chicken wire buried 6 to 8 inches (rabbits and rodents).

Trying to balance time and budget (shipping heavy rolls of fencing and fence posts to the Island can get very expensive), I finally ordered the mesh fencing online from a reasonable source. (I measured about 16 times to make sure that the 330-foot rolls were going to do the trick.)

But I still needed to find 40 heavy duty fence posts—that I could afford and also manage to get in the ground. This took a while, but through another farmer friend, I found out that another farmer on the Island, Mitchell Posin, was the Island dealer for a fencing company.

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I talked to Mitch and we settled on 9-foot galvanized metal T posts. I would need to sink them 2 feet, so that would work with my 7.5-foot high deer fencing. Mitch put the order in and also told me that he’d be happy to give me some of his round wooden posts (9-footers) for the corners of my gardens. (Yay Mitch!)

The fence posts missed their first ride to the island but managed to hitch a ride in the back of Andy the Sheep Shearer’s truck the next week. (Andy comes from New Hampshire to the Island twice a year to shear most of the Island’s sheep and to do demonstrations as well.) I was sure glad to hear that he had arrived. We piled in Trip’s truck one foggy morning and ran up to Allen Sheep Farm to pick up the posts from Mitch.

Now I had posts and fencing, but I had to figure out how to build this fence (and include a gate for each garden). In the end, I wound up going back to Allen Sheep Farm and borrowing a tool called a T-post driver from Mitch. It’s a heavy metal sleeve, or tube, with handles, that you place over the stake. Then you pull (more like bang—it is very loud) the driver down on the stake several times until the stake is far enough in the ground.

Help came next from my next door neighbor, Lena (who used to have a horse farm), and a woman visiting from Canada named Elizabeth (who still lives on a horse farm). Both of these brave women helped me figure out how to get the heavy driver onto the heavy (tall) stake before raising it up, and each volunteered to hold the stake in place while I stood on the ladder and banged the darn thing in. It was exciting when the first post went in, and even more exciting when the 40th post went in—thanks to help from two more ladies, Terra, and Helen.

Helen is the young woman helping me out on the farm this summer, and I have nicknamed her Super Farm Chick, because she is one hard worker. Together we did the rest of the hard work to get those fences done. The most tedious part was digging the trench around each area to bury the chicken wire (another friend, Ann, joined us for the last of it). Actually hanging and zip-tieing the deer fencing and chicken wire went pretty smoothly. Helen and I got so good at this by the end that we decided we could hire ourselves out as fence builders (ha!). And we had fun with the fact that the fence was almost entirely built by women. (Yay girls!) (I wish I had photos of all this.)

I had wanted to do something fun for the garden gates—I had my eye on two old screen doors—but I had to improvise for the short term and make the gates (or doors) out of the fencing material, some dowels, and some bungee cords for closing. Not pretty, but functional.

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After the fencing was done, Helen and I got going on the serious planting. I had already (with help from a friend’s son, Oliver), dug the paths and raised beds for the first garden so that I could get all my greens in . (I grew a very successful crop of baby bok choy in this garden, and I was happy to sell some of it and some beautiful Japanese turnips to State Road Restaurant. I’ve been harvesting lettuce, kale, chard and spinach from that garden, too.)

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Oliver and I had also gotten the potatoes in the ground out in the biggest garden. (Yay Oliver!) I knew deer didn’t like potatoes so I wasn’t worried about planting them without the fence up. Interestingly, not long after the potatoes sprouted, we saw deer tracks right through the bed. So I knew I was doing the right thing in planning on tall fencing—especially for that garden, where the tomatoes would go.corner

But now Helen and I were staring at 75 tomato plants, 60 eggplants, 60 squash plants, 30 cuke seedlings, and untold numbers of flowers (about 300 maybe?) that needed to get in the ground. In my zeal, I had started everything (both under lights inside and in my little mini tunnel outside) about the same time I always start, not thinking about how delayed I’d be in getting everything in. So all my plants were leggy and busting out of their pots (and needing to be watered twice a day). To get those plants in, there would be more shoveling to make raised beds, a lot of weed mat barrier and plastic to staple down, stakes to pound in, and lots of drip hoses (a whole other story) to set up.

It sounds so easy to just “get the plants in the ground” but there are dozens of things that need to happen before that little hole is dug and the seedling popped out of its pot.

But now I am happy to say that as of this afternoon, it is pretty much all done.

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All but a couple random flats of seedlings (and some extra tomatoes, which have been moved to bigger pots for the farm stand) are in the ground. Weed mat barrier is down in every path in each garden. Drip hoses are down and the irrigation, though jury-rigged, is functioning. Sunflower and nasturtium and cilantro seeds planted around everywhere to attract the good bugs and bees.

Whew. Now we just have to go back to the first garden and do some weeding and thinning and turn some beds over. Bok choy out, yellow beans in.

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Ready, Set, Go: Put Yourself in the Way of Beauty

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I have been reading a little book by Cheryl Strayed called Brave Enough. It’s a collection of quotes. I like it. Them. Many of them. All of it.

But my favorite is this very simple thought: “Put yourself in the way of beauty.”

This is really just another way of saying do something joyful. But beauty is (in my view) a very specific kind of joy. It is sensual and tactile, visual and aromatic. Calming in its distraction.

For me, beauty is almost entirely owned by the natural world.

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So I have been doing this—putting myself in the way of beauty. On our foggy morning walks in the woods across the way, Farmer and I are deliberately pausing (he to sniff, granted) to watch the limey-green ferns seemingly unfurl before our eyes. Blueberry blossoms—at our feet on the wild scrubby plants that hug the foot path and up in the sky on decades-old highbush plants—are everywhere. I am noticing the little white clusters of flowers on the bare-branched shadbush and the soft pink apple blossoms on our way back down the driveway.

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DSC_0096On the wooden steps outside my back door, I have set up a little mini potted-plant garden of fresh herbs and annual flowers and things that smell good and look pretty. Lemon thyme and scented geraniums. Dwarf dahlias and pink dianthus. A little piece of beauty.DSC_0078

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Lilacs. A big, fragrant, fresh-picked bouquet from my friend Judy is now on my kitchen counter and everything is right with the world.

DSC_0089My biggest pleasure, though, is unpinning the fabric row cover over the greens I’ve planted in my new market garden. The baby kale and mizuna and ruby streaks mustard with their toothy leaves look like puzzle pieces nestled together.

DSC_0109 DSC_0111The new pea plants are sending tendrils out to grab on and start climbing.

DSC_0101The ruby chard I transplanted has settled in and taken off.

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These beautiful vegetables are gifts to me from my own hard-working self. Every year I have a fear that I am going to suddenly forget how to grow things. Or that all the inherent risks will conspire to prevent anything from growing. This year especially, when I didn’t know where I was going to be growing until a few months ago, I am so relieved and grateful to have this beauty to turn to. Sometimes I think I grow vegetables as much for their looks as their taste.

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Right now, with the help of friends and fellow farmers, I am building the pieces of my new little market gardening operation. It is exhilarating and exhausting and full of beauty. It is tempting to get fixated on making progress, on getting enough beds planted and the fencing done, to get to the point where there is enough to harvest and sell.

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But I realized this morning, during a beautiful, misty ride up to Allen Sheep Farm (the grey, the green, and then the unexpected blue of the sea) to pick up my fence posts, that what I like best about this whole thing is the process, not the destination.

Maybe today you can find three or fours ways to put yourself in the way of beauty. Ready, set, go.

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And So It Begins: The Curse of the Impatient Gardener’s DNA

DSC_0091DSC_0100There are grow-lights in my bedroom, a sack of soil in my living room, and a shovel next to my sofa. This week’s newspaper is spread across my kitchen counter, catching crumbs of soil as I make a colossal mess transplanting and dividing tiny seedlings.

Just getting inside my front door means tripping over a pile of garden tools.

It’s not pretty. But it is exciting. I can’t wait to start growing things again this spring, because gardening is stuck in my DNA like a tenacious weed in a sidewalk crack.

DSC_0083I am so much my father’s daughter that it is scary. Yesterday, I looked down at the spading fork in my hands and the craters of dirt all around my feet (and all over me), and I thought instantly of him. I intend to call him (though he will read this first) and tell him that it is all his fault, this passion I have.

As a little girl, I trailed around behind him in his gardens (I wasn’t actually any help), watching him bring to life the drawings he made first with pencil and paper. Brick walkways and courtyards, perennial borders, rose gardens, grass berms. Camellias, dogwoods, Japanese maples, London planetrees, boxwood, peonies, asters, blueberries, beefsteak tomatoes, pole beans, parsley, portulaca, pansies, phlox. Miscanthus Sinensis Gracillimus. Rudbeckia Fulgida “Goldsturm.” I loved the names as much as the plants.

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And then there were endless trips to the plant nursery and the hardware store. I wish I had been paying better attention–especially at the hardware store. I stood in one yesterday contemplating a wall of gizmos with which I had no earthly acquaintance, wishing my interpreter was by my side. But my five-year-old and ten-year-old self couldn’t have seen into the future, wouldn’t have known that the gardening gene would lie latent for years only to bust out half way through adulthood with a particularly grueling obsession—growing food. (Or that I might someday also have to tap into the carpentry gene.)

DSC_0115This will be my eighth year with a market garden. While I’m waiting for a tractor to turn over the soil in a new plot for me, I’ve been able to do a little work on a small plot so that I can get some peas and greens going. (Hence the indecision at the hardware store: I am working on fabricating a bunny-proof fence, with my limited carpentry skills.) While working outside, I found some forgotten strawberry seedlings, left behind by another gardener in an area soon to be tilled. I had to save them, of course, so I dug them and and potted them up–like my Dad would. He’s never been afraid to move plants around, and it didn’t feel like home unless a dozen or so potted plants were hanging around on our patio waiting to get in the ground.

One friend asked me if I thought I might get tired of gardening, if the work would get to be too much. I don’t know how to answer that, because it is like asking me if I will ever get tired of cooking. I am hard-wired to grow things and to cook—fortunately. I really am grateful for these compulsions, since I am not good at sitting still for long periods of time, and I don’t like to spend too much time listening to the voices in my head! In other words, getting outside is essential.

Now if it would only stop snowing or raining every five minutes. Dad, can you do something about that?

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Sunshine update: I wrote this last night, but today the sun is shining. Check! Also forgot to mention that my impatience really got the better of me at the plant nursery the other day and I wound up buying just a few little seedling starts so I’d have something in a pot on my deck. Instant gratification. Happy.

 

 

 

 

June Surprise: Strawberries To Sell at the Farm Stand

photo-428 June flew by in a frenzy of planting, harvesting, weeding, and watering–Wednesday is July 1 already! We have coined a new word here for how tired we are: “Exhausterated.” Farmer epitomizes the exhausterated look when he passes out on the couch every night with his eyes rolling back in his head; it’s hard work being a farm dog on a busy farm, after all.

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The best thing about this June has been the explosion of strawberries. Remember last year I was all giddy because there were finally enough for me to snack on every day–but not enough to sell? Well, I don’t know if it was the cold winter or the compost I dumped on the patch last year or a little pruning and separating we did, but this year our one little fat row of strawberries yielded hundreds, probably thousands of strawberries. Enough for us to sell some at the farm stand most days, and still have leftover “house” strawberries.

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pink-bowl-300x298Libby and I made our first batch of ice cream for the summer. Both of us rank fresh strawberry ice cream right up at the top of favorite flavors. (In a few weeks, we’ll be able to make black raspberry, too.). We made shortcakes with a lot of whipped cream, and there are still enough strawberries left out there for me to make a batch of Gingery Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Brown Sugar-Pecan Topping, that killer recipe from my cookbook, Fresh From The Farm.

farm_fresh_cover_1Oh, and that reminds me, that recipe is just one of many  that my publisher, The Taunton Press, has put together into a special “bookazine” called Farm Fresh that is now on the newsstands (grocery stores, Barnes & Noble, Costco, etc.) or available by mail from The Taunton Store.

It’s an excerpt of my cookbook and there are, of course(!), a ton of great recipes. So be on the look out for it. (Gorgeous food photos, like the one of the crisp below, by Alexandra Grablewski.)

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Anyway, there’s no time to think about strawberries anymore. Tonight I picked 13 pounds of shell peas (we planted a lot more this year) and Roy has been harvesting lots of summer squash from his early planting on black plastic. The plants started yielding only 30 days after they went into the ground. We’re growing “Zephyr” crookneck summer squash with beautiful green tips; bright yellow “Sunburst” Pattypans; “Jackpot” zucchinis; and “Golden Arrow” yellow zucchini. Here’s an iPhone pic–in fact all my photos today are from the phone. Once again, I have a broken camera on my hands–oh well! Here’s to summer eating, and a happy July 4th week.

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Beautiful Work: Surviving June on a Small Farm

DSC_0241Blink and you will miss the best parts, like these baby apples. There’s just so much to do…

June on a small working farm is a blur of soil (most of it in the form of dirt under your fingernails and dark stains on the knees of your jeans), seedlings (hundreds of root balls and spindly stems), hoses and more hoses, old hand tools that give you splinters, plastic covers and metal staples and wheelbarrows of mulch. And weeds. And ticks. Did I mention we have baby apples?

DSC_0236We are drowning in lettuce. Cutting, washing, packing, salad mix every day.

DSC_0256DSC_0258It’s pretty much lettuce as far as the eye can see. Except for those potato rows…

DSC_0250Roy’s been hilling his potatoes–they’re already a few feet tall and blossoms have started to appear. (So have the Colorado potato beetle, our favorite.) The neat rows look really cool.

DSC_0216The peas are doing that thing they do–climbing the trellises fearlessly.

DSC_0242We’ve planted a 100-foot row of zinnias. Benary’s Giants in all different colors. Can’t wait! Gladiolus and sunflowers, too.

DSC_0212And in the hoop house, the early tomatoes are absolutely thriving–lots of little green Sungolds showing up.  DSC_0190 DSC_0196

And the hoop house basil finally settled in–some really cold nights left the plants feeling a bit queasy, but they’ve recovered, and with a nice boost of fish fertilizer, they’re greening up. DSC_0184DSC_0226

The first rounds of cucumbers (below) and summer squash (above) are in and they look happy. DSC_0228

The hardest thing right now is getting the tomato rows prepped (a LOT of rocks that need to come out), covered, set up with irrigation hoses, etc. But we’re making progress, with 100 or so plants in…and many more to go.

DSC_0233And back up at the farm stand, all our purple flowers are in bloom and Roy’s little lupine and hosta corner is looking smart. Pretty little things to rest your eyes on if you remember to stop.

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But about that lettuce…there are certainly worse things to have a lot of–I love this stuff.

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An Evening Stroll Around the Farm

DSC_0173On my way out to the compost pile tonight with my kitchen scraps, I stopped to say hello to the pullets, who are grazing out on one of the nicest spots on the farm. They are just starting to lay in earnest; once a few of them really get going, it’s like the rest get the hint. We collected 24 eggs two days ago, 35 yesterday, 48 today. It will be 150 or so before we know it. That’s good–we’ll certainly need them this summer, if Memorial Day is any indication–over the weekend, we sold more than 100 dozen eggs (from the older hens, of course, not the pullets!), all at the farm stand!

DSC_0222That’s the way it goes around here…I can hardly believe how fast things are moving now. The potatoes are already up. Not just up, but tall enough that Roy did the first “hilling” on them (raking soil up and around the base of the plant).

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I spotted the first pea blossoms yesterday on the sugar snap peas (a particularly early variety) and sure enough, there were dozens this evening.

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It’s lovely to walk around in the evening light and see all our hard work taking shape. We are both exhausted and yes, occasionally cranky, so we have to stop and look around and see how beautiful everything is and also to realize that we’re pretty much on schedule–as much as you can be in a year when everything is late because of the winter. Now if we can just get those tomatoes in the ground …. and more carrots sown, and the brussels sprouts transplanted, and the rest of the squash seedlings started, and…well, you get the idea!

A Reminder to Love Your Lilacs and Eat Your Japanese Turnips

photo-417Well the pace hasn’t gotten any more relaxing around here—no eating of bon-bons while reclining on the chaise happening any time soon. So I’m cheating again on the blog, treating you to a few of this week’s Instagram pics, so at least you’ll know that the colors are changing, and pink and purple (oh my!) have appeared. I swear the lilacs are early (maybe they like cold winters? I think I heard that). And the radishes are right on time.

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I did such a good job with the spring bok choy (that’s the lovely purple variety below) that naturally I had to screw something else up.

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After growing beautiful Japanese turnips last spring, this year I planted them too close together and never thinned them.

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They are pretty small (see above) but still tasty.  I think I may still thin them and see if the rest grow bigger. (In the meantime, if you see them at a proper farmers’ market, you can follow my tips for a yummy stir-fry from last year.) The greens are totally delicious, but kind of a hard sell on their own. (As are mustard greens AGAIN. Apparently I have been wrong about predicting that mustard green trend. Oh well.)

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We have some lovely Ruby Glow romaine lettuce (above) about ready to harvest. There are zillions of strawberry blossoms. And the peas (and everything else) are breathing a mega-sigh of relief today with some long awaited rain. My dear farm helper Laura (more on her another time) helped me plant 16 of our tomato seedlings in the hoop house this morning and transplanted the first of hundreds of basil seedlings in the other hoop house bed. And everywhere you look, there’s something else to do. Why, there goes Roy on his tractor now…heading out to the back field to get the tomato rows ready.

Before you know it, we’ll be grilling eggplant. Just a reminder to stop and smell the lilacs (and eat the baby turnips) while you can!

All’s Well Here at The Magic Kingdom

new chick redAll’s well here at The Magic Kingdom, which is what my friend Judy likes to call this place. Despite chilly temps and a persistent grey tinge to the sky, the grass is green, the daffodils have bloomed and our first asparagus spear has poked up through its compost-y bed. Sure, we’ve had a little drama here and there, but mostly we are working away, planting like crazy, and pinching ourselves to make sure this isn’t a dream, and that three feet of snow isn’t lurking somewhere just around the corner of that chicken coop.

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The new young chickens have all settled in nicely and are learning to explore the world outside their coops. They’re not entirely sure yet what all that green stuff is, but soon they will be devouring it.

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We’ve started to harvest beautiful arugula from the hoop house, packing up and selling just a few bags a day at the farm stand. It won’t be too long before we’ll be harvesting Little Gem lettuces, baby Red Russian kale, and baby Bok choy, too.

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Meanwhile, we’ve started seeding carrots, radishes, and Japanese turnips and transplanting lettuce, kale, and bok choy out to the market garden, so those familiar ghostly white tunnels have sprung up on the horizon!

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Down in the lower fields, the onions are all planted, and the peas are already an inch high.

onion chicken peasThe young apple trees we bought last fall have their first buds. I can’t wait for apple blossoms!

apple budorchardThe five apple trees make up the little orchard that Roy created in his two sister’s memory. I noticed he just moved a bench down there, and last week he planted some plants around the sign he made for them last year. I have to tell you, it is so touching.

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Back up near the market garden, not only has the asparagus appeared, but all three of the rhubarb plants that I’ve been so unkind to managed to scramble to life. Wild black raspberry vines are leafing out, too, despite Roy running over them nonstop with the tractor.

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This afternoon, probably because it was particularly cold and grey, I picked a little posey of the daffodils and grape hyacinths in the yard.

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All’s well here at the Magic Kingdom. And yes, I am repeating myself, because sometimes I have to remind myself to look around when I’m tired and all those “to-dos” seem to clutter my vision. And besides, you have to keep your eyes open around here, because Roy is always up to something. Just the other day I noticed this half of a chair hanging on the farm stand. Sweet.

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It’s Not Too Late to Plan a Veggie Garden

garden_b_0Seems like I keep forgetting to tell you Sixburnersue folks about a really cool article I had a chance to work on for Martha’s Vineyard magazine about starting a vegetable garden. The story, aptly titled “Holy Homegrown!” (this is exciting stuff after all!), begins like this:

“What if the secret to happiness lay right outside your kitchen door? In a pretty little garden, full of delicious things to eat?”

And honestly, having spent the last week digging in the dirt, I think that just might not be such a far-fetched thought. Growing some of your own food is satisfying on so many levels, from physically stretching your body and taking in the sunshine, to watching the tiny miracles of seeds sprouting, to (already) eating some of that arugula you might have thought to plant a few weeks ago (Yes I am; yes I did!).

DSC_0025So I just want to say this. Now is your time. If you’ve always wanted to start a little veggie garden, but are worried that you’ll get overwhelmed, click here and you’ll get all kinds of tips about how to make it as small as you want it and about how to keep it manageable. (Better yet, pick up the magazine on the newsstand if you’re an Islander.)

And if I can’t talk you into it, then just look at the beautiful and tantalizing illustrations of three real Island gardens that artist Fae Kontje Gibbs drew for the story. The designs are all based on classic square and rectangular patterns and almost all of them include several of the veggies that I compiled in a list of “top ten favorite veggies to grow” (Salad greens, kale, basil, cherry tomatoes, etc.).

But each garden also has its own distinct personality, with quirky garden objects and a lesser-known vegetable or two to keep things interesting (lovage or paw-pay anyone?). (That’s Fae’s drawing of my friend and neighbor Katherine Long’s garden, at top.)  I think, in fact, that Fae’s drawings are probably the most inspiring thing about the article, because they invite us to be creative, which is really the most fun part about having your own little garden. No two are alike and each truly is a canvas for you to paint on—though you’ll really have no idea what it is going to look like until it all grows in! A garden has a mind of its own. But you can count on delicious surprises.

And one last cool thing about this Home and Garden issue of Martha’s Vineyard magazine —the photo on the cover (see below) was taken by Susie Middleton! How fun is that? My first ever cover photo. You just never know where this vegetable thing will lead!

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