Category Archives: gardens by the sea

#622: Garden Tour

For those of you who don’t live on Nantucket
but wanted to tour our garden,
here you go:

Last March it looked like this.
A few leeks hanging on.
Mostly cleaned out by the chickens.
August. Come on in.
This Sweet100 tomato vine is at the garden’s entry.
In theory, tiny tomatoes are ready-to-eat.
In reality, if I don’t get this plant tied up soon,
the ants are going to get all the tomatoes.

The source of our fertile soil, the henhouse.
The 6-week old chickens are allowed in the popcorn garden.
They eat all the weeds and leave the corn alone.
Milkcrates cover the sweet potatoes.
No way they’ll leave those alone.
We do let them have whatever escapes the crate.

Interlaken grapes. 
Safe from the chicks but not the crows.
 We might have to cover with deer netting
to keep them out.
This has been our best grape year yet,
due to some expert help in the spring.

Little Finger eggplant, ready to pick.
Stir-fry here we come.

Butternut squash, a favorite.
Mostly because vine-borers leave them alone.
Cutting out vine-borer grubs is my least favorite garden chore.

Kale. And more kale.
No such thing as too much kale.

Pumpkins on the chicken yard fence.
This one will have to go in a net bag to hold its weight.

Lots of cukes this year.
Also lots of cucumber beetles.
Every morning, after breakfast, it’s bug squashing time.

Lavender along the path releases its scent.

Zinnias, red, orange, then yellow.
The grayest rainy day can’t overpower zinnias.

Echinacea attracts bumblebees.
If the plants survive this winter,
we’ll harvest buds next year to make an immune-boosting tea.

Onion tops tipping, Ready to pull.
Potatoes, mostly Yukon gold, are in the process of being dug.
It’s a bit like a treasure hunt.

Garlic already harvested, fourth of July.

The garden in full production:
food, flowers,
and two chairs for sitting and chatting.
The perfect spot to listen for the Lord’s voice.

#546: Colorado Potato Beetles, part two

Ahh, for the good old days on Nantucket.
Not the windswept moors and Sankaty Lighthouse,

nor the patriotic monument on Main Street,

nor even the Sconset walk,
no these are the same as always.
No need for nostalgia here.
What I miss are the days before Colorado potato beetles.
This is one of two egg masses I discovered this morning.
Before last year we had never seen this, ever.

And we’e been growing potatoes for over a decade.

Not only do they attack our potatoes,
they’re on the tomato plants

See? Jabba the Hutt wannabees.

And what’s that on the eggplant?
More. The battlefield expands.
How I long for the good old days of plant potatoes,
hill up potatoes, harvest potatoes.
Eat potatoes.
And no sharing with Jabba wannabees.

#545: Gardening on Nantucket: Colorado Potato Beetles

A garden on Nantucket is a battlefield.
Oh, it looks lush and abundant:
Dozens of potato plants,
planted in last year’s chicken yard.
But close up, the Colorado potato beetle attacks:
This is the second year we’ve had them.
Only 1/4 long and only four so far but
the battle rages:
Each beetle lays at least 300 eggs,
I destroyed one egg mass but obviously missed another.
These tiny guys can defoliate a plant in a day.
We garden organically so they have to be hand-picked.

And not fed to the chickens.
See the beetle larva between the hen’s feet?
Chickens don’t eat Colorado Potato beetles.
Phooey.
They hide under leaves,
but I’m a relentless hunter.
Yesterday alone I squashed 105 larvae.
Including this one, inside a potato flower.
I don’t mind killing them,
they reduce yield and look like Jabba the Hutt.

#541: Russell Morash’s Garden

Our go-to reference book
for gardening has always been
Russell Morash’s Victory Garden.
Who knew we’d get to visit his home version
on Nantucket?
Of course, it helps that Marian Morash buys
her fish from us, Glidden’s Island Seafood.
We headed over on a rainy day.
The Morash garden began with Nantucket’s typical 1/4″ topsoil,
in other words, none. It’s all sand.
The Morashes bring in loads of free compost from the dump,
I mean, Environmental Park.

David had some ideas,

About which Mr. Morash was, um, skeptical.

The man knows what he’s doing–look at this butter lettuce!
We don’t even try bibb, the slugs always get them.
(he gave us this one, bless him–it served 3 meals…)
It starts in the ‘Victory Garden’ greenhouse.
One plant per cell or a bunch in a row planter.

Then to 4″ pots, all in starter soil.
Garden soil would bring bugs and fungus into the greenhouse.
Everything goes into raised beds

in perfect rows.

The bean seedlings are covered to keep the doves and crows
from pulling them up.
We’re going to try these Hakurei turnips next year,
planted May 2nd and ready to harvest already!
They were an inch across and so sweet.

The indeterminate tomatoes are pruned and trained
to two main stems.

Escarole is blanched by a pot on top.
This was an experiment,
worked ok but some has bolted.
It perversely made me happy
that even Russell Morash’s lettuces
get away from him.
The fruit of it all,
summer feasting with anonymous family 
and friends.
Very funny, guys.

#430: Sunflowers

 Oh, glory, sunflowers!
So bright and bloomy.
Some so full of seed they can’t hold their heads up.

And some so tall they tower over us.

 But of all the sunflowers in our yard,
this one wins my heart.
When only a foot tall, its top was chewed off by a deer.
It sent up a sideshoot, which the deer also ate.
It started a new leader which they, somehow, missed.
 And it blossomed.
Small and scraggly but giving glory to God
in every sunny petal.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us.
We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.”

#322: Hubbard Squash

Volunteers.
That’s what they called the squash vines
which grew out of the compost pile at Hummock Pond Farm.
Volunteers are such a fun part of gardening.
All the work we do to grow what we planted
and God says, ‘How about some of these?’
The vines turned out to be Blue Hubbard squash.
This variety came north on a sailing ship to Marblehead
in the late 1700’s.
They grow bigger than your head!
Seeds are baked and lightly salted.
(saving a few to plant in the spring…)
The flesh makes yummy pies and soups and sidedishes.
I bake it then freeze the extra in 2 cup portions.
An unexpected gift for the winter.

#321: Sweet Potato Surprise

We’re cleaning out the compost pile.
Its corner post has rotted:
It’s needed a rebuild since last spring,
nothing pretty here.

Except, maybe:
Growing up inside the rotted stump,
A serendipitous sweet potato.
Fried up with Irish sausage,
a pretty good breakfast.

#302: DIY Mittens and Hats

One of the best Take it or Leave it finds
is a shrunken sweater.
They make excellent hats and mittens.
The hat, made by his sister, is from the body of the sweater.
It has two pockets and folds over for extra warmth.
Or unfolds for a Rasta look,
 which fits under your bike helmet.
I don’t know what he keeps in the pockets.
The gloves are sleeves, reversed, folded over,
 given a few stitches to make a thumb slot.

They can be rolled down for warmth or slid up
for free hands.
Or knelt on when the ground is cold.
Or when you can’t help but sink to your knees 
in thankfulness and praise to God 
for His bounty:
from the dump as well as from the earth.

#282: Sermon Haiku #20: 2 Timothy 3:10-4:8

The doorknob statement
hand on exit, essential
summary of hopes
What’s your life mission?
Paul’s was to finish well
Accomplishing what?
To fight the good fight
To endure whatever came
Proclaiming the faith
Trials, pain, suffering
God’s means of refining us
Learning to trust grace
No matter what comes
Don’t get away from Scripture
Hold tight to the Word.
The King is coming.

#273: Daylight Savings Time

The early light calls me outside.
The summer garden is put to rest:
Winter rye blankets the beds
Kale still grows
The pear tree rests
And the clothesline
The light of winter’s sun glows warm.