With a break in the weather a dozen share-holders and volunteers convened on the farm to catch up after several rain delays. Elizabeth provided bagels and juice before we broke up and worked to get the farm ready for harvesting a few weeks from now.

Don, the farmer, suggested various tasks. A mother and her son planted leeks. Several women descended on the two weed-filled herb and flower beds. I pried fennel with a long-handled spade. Fennel is n invasive and aggressive. It’s tap root goes straight down like dandelions.

After an hour, several large piles of weeks needed a trip to the compost pile. I wheel borrowed three loads. Don prepared a bed for planting. This season, Don decided to eliminate grass pathways along the beds. “Insects live there as well as weeds and travel into the beds.”  Behind his roto-tiller, flat,  smooth, velvety, brown, soft soil was to become the home of the roots of one of the dozens of kinds of produce the form will provide.

Soil is the key to growing healthy, organic produce. Lots of compost is applied and worked into it. Just by  thrusting my hand into this fresh soil, full of air, minerals, organic and organic elements, I could tell that any plant put in this soil and watered, is going to grow big and strong.

On my trips to the compost pile, I looked Austrailian Winter Pea cover crop. Don plants cover crops to increase carbon and nitrogen.

Don is particular about the way seedling plugs are planted. He wants the rows straight and the distance between each plant the same. He knows what space the roots of each plant needs. He used a 100 fool long string, measuring tape, and yardstick to plan where each plant will go. Once an entire bed is planted, I imagine a battalion of soldiers marching in place.

On my third trip to the compost pile, I lingered to look for flowers. I decided to make a spring bouquet. When I was finished, I had seven: hark weed, mustard, vetch, red clover, sunflower stalk, Australian Winter Pea, purple sage, and garlic. I used the bouquet to show and name the ones I found

Don showed me one of his projects. Each year he plants some unusual seed. This year it is Skull Cap. I followed him to a flat outside the greenhouse. The plants were still too small to set out. Here is what I found in PERSCRIPTION FOR NUTRITIONAL HEALTH by Balch and Balch:

SKULLCAP “use aerial parts; chemical and nutrient content: fat, glycoside, iron, volatile oils, sugar, tannins, Vitamin E: aids sleep, inhibits circulation, stimulates the appetite. Inhibits the production of dithydrotesterone, a hormone that contributes to enlargement of the prostate.  Good for poor appetite and prostate discorders. May also enhance sexual functioning and desire.”  Page 77

 

Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.

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