Monday, May 4, 2009

April showers bring May...rain?

It's raining--perfectly lovely spring rain; the kind that drizzles slowly from the sky, occasionally picking up the pace, but never reaching enough fortitude to pound the earth and turn the streets into concrete walled rivers. (Edit: In the time since I started this, I hear word that the situation has indeed changed...)

Rain like this is good for the garden...unless you are waaay behind schedule and missed your few brief windows of opportunity to get the tiller in and mix up all that nice new soil and compost, so snug in their beds.

M and I went out to the Urban Gardener on Saturday to check out their offerings and pick up some Seeds of Change seeds (and soil test kits!). We also dropped in at KMart because they carry Burpee and Martha Stewart seeds. Neither is a first choice, but I do give them props for expanding their organic and heirloom offerings. I'm not a purist when it comes to organic seeds; really, the weirdness factor is always the winner--I like to grow things I cannot buy in any farmer's market, let alone supermarket. That's the beauty of the home garden--you don't need to grow tomatoes that have been bred to have thick, icky skins so that they don't break as they are mechanically harvested and dumped onto trucks that will let them ripen in a fresh flow of ethylene gas on their thousands of miles long road trip to your supermarket. You can grow all the veggies that don't fit nicely into packaging and that don't store well on long road trips.

In this case, I was hoping to get some seeds that I should have ordered months ago, and stuck in the ground a few weeks ago. For now, I wait for a break between the raindrops so I can turn the soil.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Why is this place called Rough Branch?

Rough Branch is a reference to Wendell Berry's "mad farmer" poems. Berry is an agrarian populist poet, and advocate for sustainable agricultural practices. I don't agree with every position he takes, but his reverence for the beauty and balance of the natural world, for the preciousness of the life that runs through it (including our own), and of the community that sustains both the land and each other, speaks to my heart.

Over the past few years, I have sunk myself into the soil in my back yard, and into the community of neighbors that surrounds it, and it has begun to restore me. My garden is not just a plot of dirt providing vegetables for the salad bowl, it is an act of love, a place of profundity and awe. If you knew about the ecosystem that lives in but one gram of good earth, you would be humbled, literally, to the ground.

Berry's poems are passionate calls to live--deeply, profoundly, fearlessly. To step out of narrow-minded egotism, to secede "[f]rom the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation, [to] secede into care for one another, and for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth."

And so I have made my own nation small enough to walk across. I have named the small corner of the earth I steward Rough Branch. I have declared myself free of ignorant love, and I secede...

From the union of power and money,
from the union of power and secrecy,
from the union of government and art,
from the union of science and money,
from the union of ambition and ignorance,
from the union of genius and war,
from the union of outer space and inner vacuity,
the Mad Farmer walks quietly away.

There is only one of him, but he goes.
He returns to the small country he calls home,
his own nation small enough to walk across.
(From "The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union")
The Mad Farmer challenges us to reconnect, to resurrect our land, our communities, and our souls.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
(From "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front")
All quotes from Wendell Berry.