Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Blue tomatoes!

That’s right, blue. And beautiful as ever.

Helsing Junction Blues

We’re growing a cherry tomato in our garden this year called Helsing Junction Blues. It’s a newer tomato variety, bred by Tom Wagner, a professional tomato breeder who owns New World Seeds & Tubers. The name is in honor of Helsing Junction Farm, a certified organic farm in Washington. I purchased the seedling from Norsejenta’s Seedlings in Duluth, Minnesota.

The leaves of the plant have a slightly bluish tint and tend to curl up on the edges a bit. So far we’ve harvested about a dozen and a half of these two-tone tomatoes. They start off part purple and part green, ripening to red and indigo blue. Roughly the size of a ping-pong ball, they aren’t sweet to speak of, but have a well-rounded full flavor. The plant is incredibly prolific and the tomatoes grow in bunches, as can be seen in the picture.

I will continue to highlight a number of things we are growing in our garden throughout the remainder of the summer. It’s been great growing so far!

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July 30, 2012 at 12:08 am 1 comment

Dirt Therapy – Part 2

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I find gardening to be very therapeutic. But, life isn’t perfect, and sometimes therapy isn’t very uplifting or enjoyable – though it often remains enlightening. What I didn’t write about then was the reality that sometimes gardening can make you want to pull your hair out. Tonight was one of those nights.

I arrived at the community garden around 7 o’clock and immediately noticed something was wrong. The gate was mangled and the four beautiful eggplants I had showed my mom on Sunday were gone. As I investigated further, I realized most of the tomatillos had been removed from their stems and the few pepper plants that had survived the last bit of vandalism had not escaped destruction this go ’round. Soon a few kids came over and offered names of culprits and suggestions of motives, and we learned a neighbor had seen the damage taking place and took photos of those responsible, but little was to be done tonight except to clean up the mess. Fortunately the beans had been ignored and a couple kids went home with enough to make for dinner.

Vandalism, especially of community things, has never been something I’ve understood. Maybe I’m naive, but this kind of destruction just never added up in the “making sense” category of life. So, when it happens in a place I feel directly connected to, it is hard to not take it personally. But I must also remind myself that this garden is about the community and not me as an individual, so I find I am only sad, not angry. I think one of many things influencing my disappointment is that there is a person, or persons, who doesn’t see the value of the garden and the opportunities it can provide. The chance to learn more about our food, how to cook it, how it grows and how to have patience while the fruits mature.

Unfortunately, I don’t think patience is something many people have these days. We have little patience in traffic – road rage anyone? We have little patience with slow internet or lines at the store. And we have very little patience for being told we cannot do what we want. Some times I think if we all learned how to garden as kids that we might have a little more patience. It is impossible to grow beets well without the patience to thin them, and leaving an almost ripe tomato on the vine requires the restraint of a saint.

So, how do we learn to be patient? How do we learn to leave anger and frustration at the garden gate and move at the pace of an earthworm? I believe it is really a community effort – requiring all – and until we realize that, it will be very difficult. We have a very me-centric society and it is hurting our ability to function. We may think we are “self made” and “independent,” but when was the last time you did anything that didn’t involve another human being?  If you wore clothing, ate food or used any sort of transportation today, you will realize that we cannot do it alone. And if we look in the garden, we know that the tomatoes know this too. They cannot fruit without healthy soil, abundant water and sun, motivated pollinators and a whole host of microfauna and flora doing their job underground. Similarly, the kids at our garden need guidance, nurturing and positive examples. And they especially need our patience and listening ears.

See, I told you therapy was at least enlightening.

August 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm 2 comments

Dirt therapy

I think gardening is the best form of therapy. It gives a person a chance to create and destroy, express both frustration and care and experience the consequences of our actions, which, fortunately for all of us, does includes forgiveness. And of course, there is always time to smile, give high fives and laugh. After a hard day at work, there is nothing like putting your hands in the soil.

Tonight I spent over two wonderful hours at a community garden I helped start this year. The Cottageville Park Neighborhood Garden is truly an amazing place. In the middle of the Blake Road Corridor, it is the intersection of many different communities of people. A lot of work has been done by several individuals from across these communities to make this garden happen, and it is exciting to see it bloom (yes, pun intended, thank you).

One of the best parts about this garden is the kids. They have so much energy and excitement. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, trying to answer ten questions at once, but though they say that Patience is a Virtue, so is enthusiasm, or at least I think it should be. The youth in the neighborhood are excited to see – and eat – the end product, but they haven’t been afraid to put in the time to help make it happen either. Several weeks ago, they planted seedlings and seeds in the freshly tilled soil. This was a brand new experience for many of them and they were eager to participate. Today they learned to carefully weed around those very plants they helped create, and each left with a bag of greens to take home and share with their family.

Harvest from my garden tonight

After biking home from the community garden, I stopped by my own garden, which my husband and I share with a friend. The tomatoes plants are growing strong and have started to fruit, the potatoes have overcome their attack by flea beetles and the first beets are ready for harvest. As I pulled a few carrots, I was reminded of gardening with my parents when I was a child. The lessons I learned in the garden may not have been obvious then, but they have planted themselves deep in my memory and have helped form who I am today. I can only hope that I am able to pass them on to some of the youth at the community garden this summer.

As a parting thought, I’ll say this: The thing about gardening is, it’s a universal and timeless language. If we’re willing to listen, it can speak across ethnicity, class, gender and age. Sure, some of us like to grow things that are a little spicier (I’m an arugula fan myself) and others prefer things on the milder side (Black Seeded Simpson has a very nice and delicate flavor), but put us all together and you get a fantastic salad. Cheesy analogy aside, however, it is important to keep this in mind when gardening. There are always chances to provide guidance to new gardeners – like the reason we stay on the paths, instead of walking through the beets – but there is a lot of time for experienced gardeners to learn as well.  I may have a few years of gardening under my belt, but it only takes a few minutes gardening with youth to know that carrots will grow just fine, even if they’re not in a straight line.

July 12, 2011 at 11:26 pm 1 comment


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