THE GREEN WOMAN'S GARDEN 413-225-2144
Through the Year
February - my least favorite month of the year. Right now, I am tired of winter and looking for spring. February 1 was also known as imbolc, or belly of the mother. It was halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. One of the fire festivals of ancient beliefs, it is the beginning of spring and the stirring of seeds that will bring forth life.
We have had a light frost twice already - so the basils and tomatoes have become history. However, there are still herbs that are going strong - salad burnet, tarragon, sage, thyme, oregano, calendula, and even the borage and lemon mint! I harvested all the holy basil before the first frost and it is hanging in the shed drying. Ditto for the white sage which grew to enormous proportions this year in the compost rich beds. I did not cut the white sage fully, and it has survived the light frosts. I hope to make smudge sticks with the harvest, along with some of the wormwood and rosemary.
It's September, and even though much of the garden is still producing, signs of the winding down of the growing season abound. The nights are getting cooler, the day length is shortening, and the trees and other plants are beginning to take on their autumnal color, though slowly. I have planted some kale, broccoli, and even cukes for a later harvest. But, the best thing to plant now for harvest next year is garlic.
The work in the greenhouse continues - each day I try to plant or pot up some seedlings. I estimate that I handle the plants at least three times, at a minimum, before they are sold. Such a close connection to the plants really gives me insight into how they grow, what they look like at various stages, and provides a tactile experience that gives me joy. Playing in the dirt is such fun! As the plants get larger, I move them from under the grow lights to the greenhouse, where the additional filtered light gives them a spurt of growth.
With thoughts of spring amidst the swirling snow, I am busily planting seeds. The stratified, native seeds have been brought into the warmth with the hopes that they will break dormancy and push through the soil. This year, I used the cold frames that were one of the first "shipments" we made from Mendon to ensure that I had something in which to grow plants at my new farm in NH. Due to the fact that I had no knowledge of what, if any, critters might be lurking to chomp on seeds, I used open, but closely woven trays to protect the flats set out in them.
My dream of "living in the woods" has finally become a reality. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to have a home in the woods, where nature was close and the sounds of civilization were far away. I remember my dad telling me stories of a hermit he met while he was out tramping the woods (he called it hunting, but it really wasn't). I was fascinated that someone would be willing to live far away from everyone and be alone, not expecting anyone to stop by, and living off the land.
June is already slipping away. The weather has been rainy, humid, cold, and hot, though not all at the same time. I spent the second weekend of the month at the Mother Earth News Fair in Vermont. This was my first time as a vendor - selling plants. Due to the low turnout and high costs associated with a booth and travel costs, I did not do as well as I had hoped. But, hopefully I inspired a few folks with some different herbs and also to try some native plants. I am leaning towards growing more natives, especially those that are not easily procured.
The rains have finally arrived. Too late for many of the crops - most of my fruit is diminshed in size and/or quantity. Almost no plums, apples, pears, and the paw paws are smaller. The persimmons are great, falling at a rapid rate. A couple of days ago I saw a coyote in the back yard. He stopped, as I did, and we had a bit of a stand-off until he decided to lope off. I guess that would account for the scat I found in the yard. It was full of persimmon seeds! Last year I saw a pheasant taking advantage of the dropped fruit.
I have not written for some time now, as things have become even more complicated in my life. Trips - to HSA and IHA conferences, NE District Gathering - have pushed my plans back. Add to that spending time out the property in Royalston that I am developing, planning a home, working with the excavator, putting in a well - these are things that are running my life these days. The harvest has begun, and now I am trying to figure out what to do with all the extra produce. The plants are not quite as hearty as they usually are due to the extreme drought we have had this summer.
At this time of year, there are several signs of spring. I've noticed that the pussy willows have already appeared, and yesterday, I saw the first tentative tightly furled spath of the skunk cabbage. Another sign, along with the appearance of red-winged blackbirds, is the blooming of witch hazel.