Autumn New Year

Yesterday was the equinox.  I planted lettuce mix in the shadiest corner of the new vegetable bed I built next to the deck, with Chris’ help.  We dismantled the ziggurat on the top of the hill I constructed out of railroad ties to get additional materials for this and the two additional beds I’ll put in just below it.  Doing this physical work is an antidote for my growing sense of personal futility stemming from:

  • the less than erratic progress of the Cal Poly sustainability projects I’m involved with
  • my inability to get adequate mastery of SC accounting and fundraising
  • the demands of Jan’s electoral campaign, even though I’m not taking any real responsibility and just doing support work
  • several weeks of computer foulups
  • the impending doom of one more stage of takeover of the country by a syndicate of mafiosi–this time the Wall Street crooks commanded by Paulson and Bernanke. What’s been going on this week is a sequel to the hair-raising horror story by Naomi Klein I’ve been reading for the last month: The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Days to germination: 7-10

Days to Harvest: 40-60

This planting is about hope and the illusion that I can do something to provide for our needs outside the collapsing system.

The terrace for the beds next to the front deck is the only place on this north-facing lot that gets enough sun to grow any vegetables.  I put in the first bed to grow cherry tomatoes when I took out the ivy and first built the ziggurat. Here’s Ian getting into them six years ago:

Basil and lettuce and snow peas and chard have done fine.  Pole beans and squash and peppers not very well because of the lack of sun.  I put in another bed after extending the terrace with fill from the excavation of Jan’s office extension two years ago. But I never properly leveled or fastened the railroad ties, and lately they started separating as a result of the ground settling and soil expansion with watering. I pounded in fence posts to stabilize them temporarily, but that fix didnt work and looked terrible.  I got sloppy about planting and watering and harvesting, so for the last few months, all that remained was a patch of chard that I wouldnt even bother to harvest.  I also refused to water the gardens all summer to see how far they could be stressed.  The front didnt look that bad, a range of dry colors and textures offset by the brilliance of the California Fuschia.  But the back hill looks wasted, in the side yard the fifteen foot redwood died, and cobwebs covered plants and every nook and cranny of the house, many of them around the front door. While precinct walking I’ve noticed how sad those cobwebs look on other people’s places.

So cleaning them up and reviving the garden and planting vegetables is serving as my bailout. Today I put in spinach and trimmed the carex in the side yard and started watering it and the strawberries and the remaining redwood and the dried up Fremont Iris and the Yerba Buena.  Tomorrow I’ll complete the planting with Arugula.  I’m heartened by the survival of the chard.  I’d transplanted it to the lower bed while demolishing the top one and then two weeks later retransplanted it back.  With regular watering during the interval, it produced enough fresh leaves to supply the main dish for supper last night.

I wanted to stay focussed on the pure pleasure of placing those seeds in the soil–this activity being the goal of much preparation–but it wasnt easy to stay in the present.  I tried to revere those little bundles of promise and and ask for their blessing.

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