Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Ruckus in the Bracken

Columbus day weekend we finally got a break in the weather; some warm, sunny weather each day, so I headed up to the beach with a book and my knitting to enjoy the sand and the Atlantic while it wasn't too windy yet. By November it will be rainy and windy and chilly, so this was a real blessing. On Saturday it was so still that there were plenty of birds and it was really quiet. I took a different path down the back side of the hill towards the upriver side of the beach, and enjoyed walking through the saltmarsh. Low tide, I found a spot on a nice sandbar with a little slope, wandered around looking at funny footprints of various critters (not only seagulls, but other birds, as well as lizards, snakes and marks made by the dune grasses as they twirled in the breezes, making faint circles in the sand). Read a Murakami book, "After Dark" - a nice break from the other stuff I've been reading lately. Purely fictional and speculative, thoughtful and slow-paced.

On the walk back up the path, near sunset, I managed to startle a group of deer in the underbrush - I couldn't see them but the sound of their hooves in retreat and all the crashing through the thick bracken was unmistakable.

Returned on Sunday, a little earlier in the day - got a fair amount of knitting done and finished the Murakami, but had to retreat a little further up the beach: there was a wedding going on at the Castle Hill estate, and the party was impressively loud for 1pm - I couldn't believe the sound of their voices alone would carry that far, and they were only a bunch of twenty-somethings playing volleyball on the beach! - still, it was scaring away the usual wildlife. No deer today, clearly. Just to clarify based on earlier discussions...: Deer in the woodlands and the saltmarsh are wildlife; deer in my garden (or yours) are edible pests.

Monday was a little overcast, so I declared it domestic catch-up day. Laundry and gardening, mostly gardening. Lots of weeding to do, as I'd neglected the garden plot once the rains, lightning storms, and various family and personal commitments had conspired to keep me away from the garden...okay I just plain neglected it: what with one thing and another, week by week, I'm realizing it really isn't that easy to get over to the garden plot, as it's > 1mile away from where I live, and if I don't take the longer commute-route home...or if it's dark when I leave the office...I've been learning how many things can be obstacles to getting in decent garden time. Including forgetting to bring jeans & a tee shirt (can't garden in heels and slacks. not so much anyway.) And then past a certain point, there's no point planting hot-weather crops in...early August! Plant biology is flexible, but not that flexible.

Instead, on Monday I opted to weed, put some of the garden to bed, prepping the beds for next spring, and transplanting some of my tender plants to a location where I reconstructed my haphazard little cold frame made of lots of scrap windows. Hurray for junk-day! I have so many stones, that I've started constructing a wall of stones to retain heat and it's leaning against a pair of scrap screen-windows. In theory, this will provide both thermal insulation and a little necessary ventilation. We'll see - it's all an experiment, but hopefully I'll get away with it.

In the process of digging up the various beds, weeding, and general maintenance, I was excited to find not only vigorous earthworms, but a tiny garlic bulb, a cucumber, 7 red onions, and a whole bucketful of various types of potatoes! The Peruvian blues (purple potatoes) and also red potatoes, and some white fingerling looking potatoes, but for all I know they could be russets, but the skins on these look too thin. At any rate I found so many that I was able to bring home a bunch, gift some to mum, and plant a bed for next year as well. Very exciting stuff, for me at least. Plus my herb garden has largely soldiered on bravely through the weed invasion. That bodes well, as next year I plan on planting more herbs and leaf-bearing plants, and fewer veggies, the better to avoid the temptation of the jerks who've broken into our garden plot this year to rifle through the Duchess' tupperware tool bin and steal fertilizer and other easily portable goods, leaving big footprints in her planting beds along the way. Unbelievable, when you think about it, but apparently quite common (!) that people would break in through a fence just to steal vegetables. And mind you, Belmont is not, repeat NOT, a low-rent district, so it's not as though anyone in the neighborhood has any trouble putting food on the table. So, there's my little rant. Apparently though, it's been going on a long time, and happens to community gardeners the world over, according to some of the books I've read.

Still, I'm excited about the potatoes, and finally feeling enthused about gardening again - the rain for some reason had really discouraged me this summer. I like cool weather gardening though, and I enjoy meeting people at the community garden. Monday I met a woman who's focused her garden on medicinal herbs; she teaches about herbalism in Boston and we had a great conversation about uses and misunderstandings of herbal remedies, lichens, plants, mushrooms, bees, western and eastern medicine, and so on. So, I'll be back at the community garden plot in the spring, and maintaining it off & on through the cold season, in spite of my frustrations this summer.


Gaby said...

You should totally get a cutting of Lemon Verbena from Cynthia. It's a fantastic herb. Makes great teas and will withstand much ignoring during the summer. It isn't invasive like mint but given a good home it will grow quickly (in Peru they are 6 feet tall, on Cynthia's porch less than a foot) Not sure how it will fare in the winter though. Generally I would take it inside but after a couple of years it gets woody so maybe in one of your cool window-stone frame thingy it would live happily.

Your trip to the beach sounds heavenly!


Margo said...

Lemon verbena's great, you're right. I'm trying to protect my rosemary and my scented geraniums (hmm, going to take cuttings to transplant...just in case) so that's another to try in the cold frame. I have so many things I should be doing *inside* right now and I'd rather grab any chance to be outside...while the weather is still a little warm. Thanks for the tip/inspiration! :)