Tag Archives: community garden

Coming Home

All the lessons of my life
Come out in song and sung and rhyme,
The trick is hearing what you sing
And dancing to it all in time.

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A note of hope all through the art,
A time to tell and time to start,
Feelings felt through voice and strings –
Each time, a lullaby for the heart.

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These stanzas may or may not make it into a future song, but they’re true.

I wrote the first one a few weeks ago in a five-minute bit of inspiration, and the second one came a few days later on my bike ride home from work. Exercising and not driving is good for that, songwriting and soul-rising and half-rhyming ¬†ūüôā

I actually gave a small preview of the song below in a post a few months ago, Orlando in words and pictures – Part I. I was singing it then, I was singing it a year ago when I wrote it, and I’m singing it today.

The difference today is that today I’m sharing it with you. I’ve written several¬†songs in the past close-to-two years since I started playing the guitar, and I’ve only played a few of them, in a few instances, for other people. They’ve mostly been mine and for me, and they’ve served a purpose, but I’ve been feeling a little more ready to be a little less selfish ūüôā

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The flowers are blooming all the hours, the rivers are running on, and it’s time to share a song. The lyrics are below, and the voice and the guitar, me singing and playing, are in the link. Enjoy! ūüôā

Coming Home (mp3)

On the road and I’m a
Coming home and I’m a
Thinking how I’m gonna
Rock and roll again and
When the stars turn in and
Wake the sun again I’m
Gonna see the light in your eyes

Once upon a time I
Had a dream and I was
Flying high up in the
Amber sky and I was
Trying to find a piece of
Pie and ice cream and I
Found it when I woke in your arms

Clouds are passing by and
Here the sun is shining
On the path that leads to your heart,

Rivers running on and
I’m a swimming, coming
To the grand parade for my part

Steps and notes and fanfare
On the road and my hair
Mussed and tussled wildly
Worldly I must go there
Cares are there behind me
Like a run that’s finally
One touch closer to my old home

Memories come and go and
Stir the love that’s flowing
Like a spring that rises and falls

Water ever pure and
Nourishing the thirst for
More of what’s to come and recall

Images of learning
How to ride and turning
This and that way wildly
On my hands and scraped knees
Tears are falling and I’m
Up again and rolling
On my way to where the heart is

***************************

Rolling on and I’m a
Walking on and I’m a
Talking to the sun a-
bove and down below the
View I’m coming to and
Once again I’m choosing
Going to the hills with my dear

Daylight coming and I’m
Waking up and moving
With July and August
Days that heat us up and
Meet us where we’re at and
Bring the joy and laughter
Of the road right into our hearts

Hundred miles and counting
Down to the old fountain
Where we shared a drink and long kiss

First of many more and
Then I went out touring
Looking for what I thought I’d missed

Wishing wells and daisies
Pushing through the hazy
Skies to find the light and
Shine it on the fields and
Feeling like it’s time to
Greet the rushing tide and
When it comes I know I’ll be there

Everywhere the day is
Singing our good graces,
Feel the breeze upon your soft cheek

And there comes the sunrise,
Morning dew and our eyes,
Misty with all that we do seek

Open to the wind and
Going through with vintage
Shades that let the light come
In like joy from children
Laughing and all playing
And I know I’m making
My way back to where the love is

**************************

On the road and I’m a
Coming home and I’m a
Thinking how I’m gonna
Rock and roll again and
When the stars turn in and
Wake the sun again I’m
Gonna see the light in your eyes

Wandering far and wide and
Pondering on the time and
Watching mountains rising
And the eagles flying
All a part of life and
Loving the reminder
To look round and call you my dear

Clouds are passing by and
Birds are fast supplying
Melodies that sing of one love

Rivers running on and
Shaping stunning canyons
To behold from my view above

Lovely trees are swaying
In the breeze and saying
Come with me, we’re playing,
And the leaves displaying
Green right now and later
Red and orange and oh how
Like the sun they love the big stage

Colors come and go and
All along they’re showing
Spring and fall and all the new days

And I see the flowers
Blooming all the hours
Pedals ready and now awake

Steady was the dream and
Towards the love and gleaming
Did I go believing
In the wonders weaving
And now I can see the
Sun and clouds and streams and
With the light I’m shining my way

Shine the light and shine it
Nice and bright,
I’m coming

Shine the light and shine it
Nice and bright,
I’m feeling

Shine the light and shine it
Day and night,
I’m coming

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In the garden, looking back, looking now

I got the call about two and half weeks ago. It was the Recreation Department, letting me know the community garden season would be ending soon. It was time to clean up my plot so they could rototill and prepare the garden for the winter and next year.

Listening to the message, one of my initial thoughts was, I could have planted more, weeded more…written more. There was the basil to cook with and write about, the tomatoes to see ripen, and the sunflowers to watch grow and bloom.¬†But that’s okay. I’m writing now, and right now I’m thinking about the pictures and words that will follow here, from my recent last¬†visits to the garden. I’m also thinking about how later on, should a thought or recipe bring a garden moment to mind, I can¬†revisit the garden at those times, too.

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This is not how the garden looked this past weekend, one week into November. But before getting to the present, I wanted to share a little warmth from the past.

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The morning glories had a good time with the sun, too. These pictures were all from early September.

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The interesting thing about my last visits to the garden Рthere was a brief stop during a morning run, the day after the call; a longer visit a few days later, to look in again; and two final trips last weekend, for the final clean-up Рis that even though it was a more muted scene, with browns and fleeting greens before the final frost, there was still a lot to see and think about.

A week and a half ago, from a few yards away, this is what I saw:

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The exterior scene matched my expectations – I knew it would look a little overgrown and tired, and take on a subdued palette –¬†but then, upon walking around, and in, the garden, I realized there was more. It wasn’t from seeing up close the morning glory seeds that I knew I was¬†going to collect, or from considering¬†the collard greens¬†that had leaves yet to¬†harvest. It was the flowers. There¬†were a few persistent flowers yet. There were a few morning glories and some radish flowers.

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How often do you get to see a radish flower?

I must have seen some radish flowers¬†earlier in the year, but now¬†in November, with fewer distractions, it felt like I was seeing them for the first time.¬†The¬†novelty reminded me of the obvious – when you let plants grow, whether by accident or design, they know how to take care of themselves. They do what they’re made to do – they flower, produce seeds, and foster the next generation.¬†The radish is no dummy.

In this case, it was a¬†combination of luck and purpose from which the radish flowers bloomed. I didn’t¬†harvest all the radishes initially, and then later when the remaining ones were past their, shall we say, salad days, I had the thought, ‘The plants aren’t taking up too much room…Why don’t I leave them there and see what happens?’

For the radish-uninitiated, what happens is the following: the radish bulb sitting at ground level gets¬†a little bigger, while the rest of the plant above ground grows a lot. In the garden¬†this year, it was as if the radish plants were playing and ultimately winning a¬†game of, ‘Let’s see how many branches and seed pods we can produce by the fall, to make sure there are more radishes next year and to impress curious onlookers.’

The following pictures are all from November, but they convey a sense of the progression. 

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Flowers,
Green pods,
Dried pods,
Seedlings, and
More seedlings.

I felt a little bad that these little ones wouldn’t make it much longer with colder weather and rototiller to come, but their presence was also reassuring. The radish plants,¬†left¬†to themselves, had produced some good¬†seeds. As I was cleaning up the garden, I collected all of the dried pods.¬†They¬†filled up more than half of a quart-size bag – a decent¬†yield from the four or so radish plants that had been left to grow.

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If you’re curious as to how many radish seeds are in this many dried pods, I have an easy three-step process you can¬†use.

1. Consider the yield from a smaller number of pods:

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2. Consider the number of pods in the bag. As an aid, I’ll also give you the profile.

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3. Use your best math skills to determine the number of seeds.

This actually worked for me in my eighth grade German class when my guess was within 10 and I won the approximately 243 Gummi B√§ers in the jar. At a summer picnic this year¬†though, when I tried to guess the number of candy bars in a large jar, I was way off.¬†But radish seeds.¬†And seed pods.¬†And a quart bag. Now there’s a contest!

To be honest, the idea of¬†inaugurating a radish seed contest was not in my head when I started writing this post. But now that we’re here — Let’s do it!


The Ultimate Radish Seed Contest

These will be the rules, and the prizes:

  1. Guess the number of seeds by leaving a comment below.
  2. For a tie-breaker and the second prize, also guess for the number of seed pods.
  3. All seed-guesses must be at least 5 numbers apart.
  4. It’s okay for guesses to go over or under the actual number.
  5. The guess closest to the actual number of seeds wins. 

First prize: A packet of radish seeds, plus a small original hand-drawn radish sketch
Second prize: A packet of radish seeds

The last day to guess will be Friday, November 21, 2014 – a week from today. Then I’ll open the bag and start counting. I’ll also draw a few pictures and then announce the results.


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This is going to be fun. In¬†fact, it¬†already is. It also brings me back to the garden, thinking of the many different yields and everything¬†the garden¬†has to offer. There are vegetable yields, when you plant vegetables. There are flower yields, when you plant flowers. And along the way, there’s always more. There is a little help from a garden neighbor one day. There is¬†trading extra plants another week. And there is practicing Spanish with some of the gardeners during the year. There are also sunflowers to enjoy. There are volunteer collards to appreciate. And there seeds¬†to collect and play games with.

In addition to the radish seeds, I also collected basil, cilantro, and morning glory seeds during my last visit to the garden. The morning glory seeds are in another quart-size bag, and the basil and cilantro, clipped as dried stalks from the garden, are for now providing household decoration.

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And so the garden ends for the year, but it also continues along with everything else. There are stories to write, pictures to draw, and future gardens to plan. And there are also, I will add, seeds to count.

A good start in the garden

I got the call from the Recreation Department in mid-April. I was officially off the wait-list! I’d be rejoining the community garden this year.

It was a good feeling to get the good news – I’d moved in the past year and so couldn’t have a front yard garden as before. I was ready to go! The only problem (but not really, in the big picture) was the Recreation Department’s¬†follow-up detail that the garden wasn’t ready for planting yet. They said¬†it might be ready in a few weeks – maybe by Mother’s Day – after the annual roto-tilling and plot-marking was done. In the end, they bested¬†their Mother’s Day mark by about a week,¬†so come the first week in May, everything was¬†set. We were¬†underway.

The garden area, ready for planting: a 4 x 6 grid of plots, so space for 24. My plot: center bottom here.

The community garden in early May, ready for planting. Overall: a 4 x 6 grid of plots, so space for 24. My plot: center bottom here.

And then so what to plant? To the farmers’ market! The market!…For some plugs to transplant. And to the box! The box! …For the collection of seeds I’d accumulated over time by purchase (most of them), by gift (a few), or¬†by end-of-season collecting (a handful).

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Curious to know what was inside? So was I!

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The view upon opening

The box certainly contained an assortment of seeds. Here are a few stats and a look at the contents:

  • Total number of seed packets/bags/containers: 109
  • Greatest amount¬†of any one kind: ¬†Sunflowers – 11
  • Second place: ¬†Tomatoes – 8
  • Oldest packet: ¬†Peppermint – 1999
  • Second oldest: ¬†Chinese Cabbage – 2001 (two packets) (also a Hot Pepper packet and a Sweet Pepper packet – 2001)
  • Newest packet: Zucchini – 2014 (from the NOFA-NJ conference – free)
  • Second¬†newest: Sunflowers and Carrots – 2013 (from Johnny’s – purchased)
  • Packets that pack a story: Three flower packets from The Page Seed Company (Marigolds, Snapdragons, Pansies) that have the Hartford Courant imprimatur on the back

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I got these seeds for free over ten years ago, so now they're not so much Hartford Courant as Hartford Old seeds. Maybe one day there'll also be a Princeton Packet promotion -- and then I could get a pack of Packet seed packets.

I got these seeds for free over ten years ago while working in Connecticut, so now¬†they’re not so much Hartford Courant¬†as Hartford Old seeds. I have a feeling that the Courant germination rate may be¬†similar to¬†an Old germination rate now. I’m going to plant some and see what happens.

Maybe one day there’ll also be a Princeton Packet seed promotion, and¬†then I could say I got a pack of Packet seed packets.

The box also contained some interesting odds and ends, like a ziploc bag full of marigold seeds, a bent spoon container with sunflower seeds, a small folded paper with some chives seeds, and a medicine bottle with Grandpa Ott Morning Glory seeds.

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IMG_3921 Grandpa Ott¬†in a bottle. I don’t actually have a Grandpa Ott, but my aunt’s handwriting had me thinking¬†for a minute¬†that maybe I did.

I always liked morning glories – as a kid I can remember them¬†climbing the strings on¬†the side of the house all the way up to the attic fan, and I can also remember being¬†inside the attic looking out, seeing the morning glories¬†almost trying to come in¬†– so it was an easy¬†decision to plant some of these. Plus, there’s the awesome medicine bottle storage! I definitely wouldn’t have to¬†worry about little kids eating the seeds and then having morning glories sprout in the their stomachs. (To be honest, morning glories probably wouldn’t sprout in their¬†stomachs, but I heard it might be a different story with watermelon seeds, which¬†kids could consume¬†with a greater frequency).*

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First I planted some morning glories the garden. This is how they look in mid-June, a few weeks after sprouting.

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I also planted some in a planter by my house. My next step here will be to talk with my neighbor about some strategic planter placement to see how Grandpa Ott feels about climbing a fire escape.

Of the other interesting odds and ends above, I also tried planting the marigold and sunflower seeds in the garden, but apparently they didn’t share the same vigor as the morning glory seeds and¬†decided not to come up.

No matter though, at least for the sunflowers. I dipped into my multitude of other seed packets and found success there.

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A little baby sunflower in mid-June. Now imagine about 30 of these in close proximity, and then imagine all of them all grown up and with lots of beautiful flowers. And then remember to check back here in a few months to see if your imagination matches how this portion (about a quarter) of the garden plot turns out.

As for the rest of the plot, I have about¬†4/5 of it planted now after a month and a half. I¬†transplanted about 10¬†tomatoes (mostly of the sauce and paste variety), 4 hot peppers (of the some degree of hot variety), and¬†6 basil plants (of the traditional Genovese, goes well with tomatoes and other things variety). Thank you by the way local community farmers’ markets and New Jersey farmers for the seedlings.¬†In terms of what came up from the seeds I planted, I also have¬†radishes, cilantro, cucumbers, and zucchini growing in the garden.

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One of the tomatoes, shortly after its mid-May transplant

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The same tomato, now in mid-June

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Radishes, harvested this week

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Same bunch

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Nothing says instant garden gratification like a bunch of radishes

cilantro

Then again, cIlantro’s also a quick pleaser

 

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And another look at the garden, mid-June. The sunflowers will likely feature more prominently in future looks, hugging the bottom corner and all along the right side.

Overall, so far so good, and more to come.