Thursday, February 16, 2017

the family persisted

My first reaction on election night was disbelief -- I really didn't think it was possible that that many Americans were that stupid.  But I had a bad feeling when Ohio went.  I went to bed.  I woke up about 3 or 4 and checked the computer.  There it was.  And my first reaction to that was, you just elected Hitler.

I still think that; I still think every action this administration has taken has been in that direction.  I hope our institutions and resistance is strong enough to withstand.  We'll see in this crisis if those founding fathers were smart enough after all.  But like a person who believes that they themselves could never succumb to something, some action or inaction, well, that's the person who is actually most likely to step in that dog pile -- like that, Americans have thought themselves better than Nazi Germany.  I see people who I know to be nice people, good people even, who in a heartbeat will carry out the Fuhrer's orders, accompanied by buzzwords like "national security" and "borders".

The first action I took after the election, though, was to order fava bean seeds (and a few other seeds).  The last few days of November or the first few of December, a daughter and I went down and planted three seeds each of three types of fava beans, and some palm kale.

It is true that really good gardeners would have had winter greens up and riding out the winter.  It is true that any seed, even cold loving seed, planted in that cold a ground will take some time to germinate.  And it is true that we grew fava beans for several years before we actually figured out how to eat the darn things.

These are the favas the day we planted them.  It was the tail end of the drought, it still hadn't rained yet (it's plenty wet now) so watering and water retention was huge, thus the covered seeds.

And this is the palm kale.  That's the bottom of a gallon jug o' water if you can't tell, covering a small "seed bed".
And these are the two beds, littered with the very nice willow leaves.  Because yes, those are willow trees in the garden, started from poles temporarily placed that grew roots.

This winter has been fairly warm, but there have, of course, been cold spells.  After the drought was broken, at least we didn't have to worry about keeping the seeds watered (which is a really sensitive thing -- they cannot dry out or they are dead), but we did have to keep them from freezing.  Well, not so much freezing -- these are cold loving types of plants -- but when it was below 25, and certainly when it was below 20, they needed to be covered and somewhat protected.

This is the kale, under its jug, under an empty feed sack, under some dirt.

And these are the fava beans, under their rocks/boards, under feed sacks, under I don't know it looks like an old sheet.  Old sheets make good frost covers and good shade cloths too.

And so it took awhile.  In the kale, we had the cotyledon leaves and still nothing up top for the favas.  Eventually they all emerged.
The kale is there on the right with the true leaves, ready to be transplanted anytime now.  And yes, this is now, today, I made these photos.  As you can see, the husband has been very diligently starting more types of cold loving plants, and everything is going well.
And these are favas, behind the netting that is used on round bales of hay.  We've found this netting to be useful stuff in thwarting various critters.  It's free, we generally can untangle it until it gets in briars, and it is easy to throw away when it gets too many holes to be useful anymore.  There are three different kinds and thus the plants also look pretty different (size mostly).

This is what the next six rows of fava beans look like -- it's all happening under the ground still!  They will soon be up tho, and then we'll plant the next six or nine or whatever we decide at the time!
 We're excited about this bed -- daikon radishes!  Looking good!
And this cute little thing is a spinach plant.  I love spinach.

I feel like I should say a few more things about the importance of a garden, of growing some food.  Anywhere you are, no matter what.  It is independence.  It is usefulness.  It is not exploitative of anyone or the environment.  I haven't yet come up with a better example of how to live in the world.  It doesn't really matter if it is a freedom garden a la WWII, or a patio tomato and a windowsill basil.  It is always a learning process.  It is always a humbling process (something always fails).  It is a discipline.  It is a practice of living in the here and now.  This is the husband's garden and I am always part stranger in it but I love it and I could not do without it.  It intimidates me some, and always runs ahead of me, mocking that I cannot keep up.  But with Trump in power, I have thought more than once of Anne Frank and those who hid her and fed her, those who broke the law to do what was right instead of following orders, instead of staying safe.  I've long known the over-consumption of our culture 1) is wrong and 2) cannot sustain, but even more, that living smaller is a key not only to physical sustainability but to mental and spiritual peace.  Happiness if you will, if maybe not quite that.  The most important way to undermine a corrupt system is to not participate in it.  Through the years I've seen that same truth through various lenses of how to not participate.  Growing food, to eat, for yourself, is always a way.  This year it is perhaps the most meaningful political statement you can make too.

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