The 6 a.m. Garden

I am not a morning person—anybody who knows me well will tell you that. And yet I was up at 5:30 this morning and by 6 my coffee and I were outside. All the rest of the girls were up, too. Cocoa Bunny was enjoying the cool morning air, and I could hear the hens ruckus-ing inside the coop so I let them out into their yard. They came spilling down the ramp in a whirl of colorful feathers and a buzz of adolescent clucks and clicks. Martha hopped on to my leg while I crouched to position the food and water.

The real reason I beat Roy to the coffee (for once) is that yesterday I got dehydrated working for too long in the heat of the day. Stubborn me. Some things you have to learn over and over in life. Drink a lot of water. Take frequent breaks. Eat stuff. Despite quaffing a liter of water when I came inside at noon, I had a headache all afternoon.

It wasn’t just the threat of the hot midday sun that woke me up early this morning. I have been fretting about most everything in the garden. I just spent two days transplanting 50 tomato plants, and they don’t look so pretty to me. The poor things have been moved around, dried out, and otherwise tortured for two months, and they should have been in the ground by now. There are any number of horrible deaths I have imagined for them, but I can’t bring myself to mention them. Plus, something is eating my basil and my Swiss chard (it looks like Swiss cheese), and despite the row cover, the flea beetles have reached the tat soi and mizuna, too. Sometimes I just wish my gardening IQ were more on par with my cooking IQ. I still have so much to learn about growing vegetables, and it takes years of experience to figure some of this stuff out.

And I will admit that my Achilles heel is watering. I can’t for the life of me get on a consistent schedule of watering. This is mostly because I don’t (usually) get up early enough to do it when it should be done–in the morning. (And despite a cold and grey spring, we really haven’t  had much rain at all on our particular postage stamp.) Roy was kindly explaining to me yesterday that drenching the poor hot dry tomatoes with cold water in the middle of the day was probably not the best idea. Right. Got that. Thankfully, Roy helped solved one issue—the hideous tangle of hoses, drip hoses, and hose connectors at the garden gate—that has not been making the whole thing any easier. I moved the cute little wicker garden table (goodbye to the last hint of charming kitchen garden—we’re all about production, here) and Roy nailed up a board to hang all the hose connectors on (and labeled them with a sharpie!). We eliminated a couple of redundant hoses and streamlined the whole system. No excuses, now.

Getting out to work in the garden early this morning turned out to be both lovely and cheering. I looked around at everything in the morning dew and felt okay again. The potatoes are absolutely thriving—about to bloom. The onion bed is perky, the lettuces look lovely, all my bush beans have germinated, the peas are flowering, and my neat little rows of carrot seedlings are happy and green. (The tomatoes even looked relatively happy this morning.) My project this morning was planting Round Two of carrots and thinning Round One (I gave the thinnings to Cocoa Bunny, who was not happy about the approaching heat.) Then I spread hay on the last path that needed mulching and looked around in amazement – every single bed is planted! Now all we have to do is add on that extra bed for the squash seedlings….oh, and plant a new round of arugula…and…

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