Where the tomatoes are good.

It never fails we are sick over Thanksgiving—at least some of us, if not all of us. I actually appreciate this foreknowledge because it goes right along with my approach to life: don’t plan things. Planned things tend to pack their bags with expectations, all of them quite lofty. We are better off when pleasantly surprised rather than outrageously disappointed. Once I planned a trip to Hawaii and within weeks of our flight, Covid-19 happened. Never again! I am convinced now that my planning must be conservative and only ever whispered, if ever born.

But. I am planning to have a thousand tulips pop up in April, something dependable on Honey Creek. The effort of planting is minimal and the effect is so maximal. I see it more as an investment. I am deciding on the top flowers I love (not roses or things that are woody, thorny or burr-y) and only putting those in the ground. Things that burst up and out in hoards. GK and I need more flowers. More!

I am slowly cleaning up the garden—much easier after it all dies, freezes and thaws a couple times. The hugelkultur system we made with mounding the beds worked like a dream this past growing season, but we need to add some nutrients rather than letting it all sit. I’d bought straw bales last February or March with the intention of planting in them. They were not quite broken down enough to do really well—I got tomatoes and cucumbers to grow in straw bales, but it wasn’t a smashing success. If I had let them sit for a whole year before planting, it would’ve been better.

Straw bale growing was developed more for folks who don’t have great soil or space or lack other resources. (In some countries, poor farmers are encouraged to urinate on the straw bales to add nitrogen!) We first saw people growing successfully in bales (not urinating on them, btw) when we lived in southwest Colorado. I wanted to give it a go just to experiment, but our soil and climate is so suited for growing that there’s really no reason to rely on it.

So I’ve been forking the partly-decomposed straw bales over the hugelkultur mounds, layering it with leaves and newspaper. Our resident 5th grader gets the local paper at school and usually brings me home three or four copies a week (“I know how much you love to read the newspaper, Mom,” lol). We will see how this lasagna method works for composting and enriching the soil. It should break down quickly.
*This gardener, who freely bashes every method of gardening, is resentfully tolerant, so it’s a go for me.

The most beautiful people live where the tomatoes taste good. I have thought about this for much time. I am telling you, it is the only philosophy. Vivi dove i pomodori sono buoni… once you have learned this, you cannot go back. It is the ultimate truth.

A Waiter in Paris, Edward Chisholm (2022)

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