When we purchased our home, it was the land I valued as the key asset. Our first soil test brought the stunning news that lead in the soil averaged 480 parts per million, a level classified as “move garden to uncontaminated soil.” We got busy researching, and learned that Helianthus annus, the common sunflower, will draw the lead out of the soil.
With that shot of enthusiasm we got to work amending our land. In the autumn of 2013 we sheet mulched a large space in our sun-drenched front yard; we call this the mandala garden. On top of a thick layer of cardboard, we piled rock dust, aged manure, chopped leaves and perennials, and clean top soil: the pile was about 14″ high.
By the spring of 2014 we tested the soil again and this area – far enough away from our house to be out of reach of lead paint chips – showed a level of 280; better but still too high to grow leafy or root vegetables.
This spring our soil test showed 215 ppm, which is classified as a “slight” contamination but still is a major step forward. We continue to add compost, but we grew fruiting vegetables this summer.
And some sunflowers just for good measure.
This year we grew Good Mother Stallard pole beans for the Seed Temple in Estancia, New Mexico <followthegoldenpath.org>. Our first time growing pole beans, I wasn’t sure how to dry them. While I researched, Ella walked into the garden, plucked from the vine one dried pod, pulled it apart, and…VOILA!…green beans had turned a gorgeous mottled red. Exquisite, fascinating, and a great shared lesson in seed saving.
We planted ten seeds and now have ten x ten x…an abundant cache to send back, to share with friends, and to sow next season.
My daughter was present and engaged during my post surgery recovery in 2011. She worked healing magic on me as well as her dolls and lovies.
Colored tape, bandages, hugs and kisses…bedside with mama for those many days of recovery.
Today my daughter, aged 6 and headed for her own surgery, visited a most wonderful, child oriented surgery center where she was offered a child’s vantage point on what to expect. Once home, we spent the next several hours acting out the new information using whatever props and subjects we had close at hand.
I’ve created a scene using sculpture to reflect the process I often experience when working with children and adults.The giraffes are watching the birth of starfish in varying stages of loss, pain and regrowth. The resilience and determination is often so great that one can only give thanks for being allowed to witness such spirit.
A concise 6-month history of the Chef’s Garden: in January, on the cold grey day of my first visit to Chebeague Island, I stood on a lawn at the Inn and was asked there to create a Chef’s Garden.
In March, enthusiasm was high. The chef offered his list of desired plants and my friends at Frinklepod Farm, Noah Wentworth and Flora Brown, started the vegy, herb and flower seedings; David Buchanan, of Portersfield Cider, shared advice on berries and stone fruits; Nance Klehm, from the Seed Temple in Estancia, New Mexico, sent seeds of the 4 sisters: Corn, Pole Beans, Winter Squash and Sunflowers.
In April, Chuck Varney, of Second Wind Farm on Chebeague Island, plowed and turned the sod, we amended the soil, and then tilled to break the clumps. We had neither time nor materials to sheet mulch; on the island, bulk compost and mulch are available only if barged over in a dump truck, so we have worked with the soil at hand. The ground laid fallow a few weeks and then we worked our way across the field picking out roots and clumps of dried grass.
In late-May, on a rain-drenched day, Noah and I hauled across the bay crates filled with the starts and seeds: japanese eggplants, red and white onions, varieties of tomatoes, peppers, butternut and buttercup squash, bush beans, radishes, carrots, beets, slicing cucumbers, and a potager’s array of herbs and flowers. Some seeds failed to germinate. Some plants have been slow to take root. Overall, the garden is flowering and fruits are forming on the vines.
How wonderful to see an idea coming to fruition, and to know that customers have been fed from our shared efforts.
The giraffes have long awaited the next members to the foil/tape sculpture family.
A single starfish has emerged which seems to sing of loss, hope and rebirth. When an arm is lost a new grows back. Loss is so clearly a point of transition from one state to another.
There is no stagnation only movement towards rebirth. Let the process shine.