“Moreover, he used to tell the brother gardener that he should always make a beautiful flower bed in some part of the garden, planting and cultivating every variety of fragrant plants and those producing beautiful flowers. Thus, in their time they would invite all who saw those herbs and flowers to the praise of God. For every creature says and exclaims: ‘God made me for you, O mortal!'”
-Day by Day with Saint Francis, A Franciscan Breviary
In looking at the space created so far, I’ve realized just how much the garden has metamorphosed; but also, how much I have changed along with it. We’ve read each other I think, and in that reading the garden and I have both changed and grown together. The space that exists continues to be a tranquil place of contemplation, work, and relaxation as well as a place to grow peas to keep Dave happy while he’s working on the house. The sweet peas are beginning to climb up through the dying English peas, so where there was once sweet and tasty eatable pods are now the delicate vines with deep purple and mauve flower of the Campanini sweet peas, the fuzzy little seed pods that will give me more of the same ancient flowers next year. These are the descendants of the original flowers growing in a Sicilian monastery, collected and sent all the way across Europe to the shores of England. By my desk is a bowl of dried English peas that will make their way into my square foot garden space next year, and the most amazing climber beans that bloomed scarlet, almost lipstick red and produced sweet pods of young beans, and iridescent violet and beans that dried deep purple, now an almost black with just a streak of white. Next years crop laying in wait. Likewise, the strange octagonal pods of the asparagus peas grow tighter and tighter around their seeds, drying and waiting to be planted into strange fingers of stem and leaf that bloom into a deep grape purple flower. The pods themselves have a rather earthy taste that end with a drying, almost base effect on the tongue.
A week ago I got a tumble compost accelerator in the mail. I traded in my points on my credit card and got a rain barrel, composter, and a clock for the new house. Saturday I went out to the yard to assemble the composter. Little did I realize that this marvel of technology was not only assemble in so many easy steps as the Chinese who made it will never have to do, but the parts that are all hard black plastic don’t assemble as easily as the instructions suggest! So, like any man in this situation, I didn’t follow the instructions, and attempted to put it together to no avail. Compound that with the swatting of mosquitos, wiping of sweat, and the frustration of trying to put a square peg into a round hole and viola! You’ve got a recipe for curse words. I put it back in the garage, incomplete, and left for work.
While I was at work it dawned on me. Black plastic in direct sunlight has to heat up, and if it does heat up, it has to become more flexible. So back to the house a couple of days ago, half an hour in the sun while I mow the front lawn, back to the composter and yes, the part that wasn’t able to bend will bend. If I had another pair of hands I’d be able to bend it in place while holding each end of the composter together. I’m sure it was quite the site, me bracing two halves of a very large, very warm plastic barrel between my legs while trying to get the bottom half to line up with the holes the screws that hold the barrel together will require, then trying to line up the opening of the cover so that the holes that will be the lip the door to the composter will support also line up…
…then my neighbour and his friends light up a bowl. Mosquitos, sweat, heat, and the putrid smell of cheap dope and the cackling of what can only be described as male versions of MacBeth’s witches high on cheap clove.
The things I go through to keep the garden looking it’s best. I’ll need a pair of hands to help with the composter, and I know my brother will probably be able to spare half an hour to help. Or an hour. Or maybe two hours.
Then yesterday, another miracle. I’m walking back to the compost pile before I leave and I notice that an amaryllis bulb has shot up, along with thick fleshy green leaves, a flower stalk! The bulbs that haven’t bloomed for three years, that are sitting in pots in my back garden gaining strength so they can flower over Christmas, have decided that Christmas is coming early this year.
The tomatoes are multiplying beyond my ability to use them; but there are plenty of people in need of fresh tomatoes and I’m not afraid to have a cherry tomato or two while I work in the garden. The corn is filling out really nicely, only going to be three or four cobs but I am certain they will be delicious. Beets are getting fatter, and I’m about ready to try my hand at making kale chips. Keep everyone posted at how that turns out!