March 30, 2021

In the Early Spring Vegetable Garden

Egyptian Onions, aka Walking Onions

I love seasons: with each change comes the excitement of the new. Even though spring is the same year after year, it feels as though it's never happened before. As soon as the garden is dry enough to walk through without sinking into mud, my first chore is to go out with a bucket of small stakes and a tape measure and mark out the rows. I am thrilled to watch the new growth, and especially gratifying with food crops. One of the first plants I can harvest are Egyptian onions, which I snip and add to salads and other dishes. Today I added some to my lunchtime coleslaw, using a cabbage that I harvested last fall. 


Garlic bulbs are planted in the fall, and I cover them with a hay mulch. In early spring, I gently move aside the mulch to see if the shoots have emerged. It's an announcement of the start of garden season when those green leaves rise up.


The tiny leaves of sorrel have begun to grow. There are several recipes that I love that use sorrel; I'm fond of its tart flavor. There's a sorrel/onion tart, cream of sorrel soup, potato-sorrel soup.


Chives are another handy herb to have in the garden.

Cold Frame

My hand-made cold frame is rather rickety and crude, but it does the job asked of it. When the soil dries enough to plant, my first sowing of seed is arugula and lettuce in the cold frame. They are very hardy, and the structure keeps it warmer inside to encourage growth during these cool days.

Arugula seedlings

And today I was so happy to see some tiny new arugula seedlings popping up, from a March 24th planting. 

Pea Stakes

I'm getting ready to plant peas: the stakes are placed, and next I'll put up the fencing, for which I use chicken wire. The three taller stakes––with added height from taped-on broom handles––are for snap peas, which are vigorous climbersl. I love the description for planting peas and spinach: "as soon as the ground can be worked". A handful of soil, squeezed between the fingers, should break apart when your hand is opened and not stick together in a muddy clump. A too-wet soil will rot the seeds. 


Rhubarb plants grow to an enormous size so are situated outside the perimeter of the garden. Although we treat rhubarb as a fruit, it's actually a vegetable, so is appropriately included in this post.  What I most love to make with rhubarb is jam, deliciously tart and sweet. 

The first spring vegetable that will appear will be perennial asparagus, but I have to be patient until early to mid May before that tasty treat appears. I have to admit that I've let my flower gardens go to rack and ruin, letting the plants fight it out with the weeds, but my vegetable garden gives me such deep satisfaction that I hope I never have to give it up. 

March 27, 2021

A Renewal


It's been several years since I've posted on this blog, but some reading I've been doing lately has got me thinking that I might enjoy writing again. It's early spring here in northern Vermont, the ice is receding from the edges of the pond, green leaves are visible under the shallow pond water: a time to start afresh. 

The poems of Alberto Caeiro, a heteronym of Fernando Pessoa are making me aware again of the value of looking closely at the world around me: 
The astonishing reality of things
Is my daily discovery.
Each thing is what it is,
And it's hard to explain to someone how much joy this gives me,
And how much that joy suffices me. 
In my gaze, everything is clear as a sunflower,
I'm in the habit of going for walks along the roads,
Looking to the right and to the left,
And now and then looking back...
And what I see at each moment Is something I've never seen before,
And I'm very good at that...
I know how to feel the profound astonishment 
A child would feel if, on being born, 
He realized that he truly had been born...
I feel newborn with every moment
To the complete newness of the world...

Caeiro asks us to look, to truly see, with no preconceptions, no thought. I've also been reading several modernist French writers, such as Jean Frémon, Pierre Reverdy, Franck André Jamme, and Philippe Jaccottet whose prose styles are inspiring. It is Jaccottet's Seedtime, selections from his notebooks, that also made me think about making notebook-like entries in my blog, along with photographs. Although the blog is titled Studio and Garden, I don't think I'll post my artwork here, but will leave that to Facebook and Instagram. But I do hope to write about art that I see in museums and galleries, once I'm back to visiting those wonderful, much-missed places.

In the woods, the mosses have been refreshed by yesterday's rain, and their intense greens can't be matched in the natural world. Their shapes vary, from tiny tree-like forms to soft cushiony shapes, some that make resting on a moss-covered rock inviting. 

In the first entry in Jaccottet's Seedtime, he urges us towards a "complete forgetting": 
Attachment to the self renders life more opaque. One moment of complete forgetting and all the screens, one behind the other, become transparent so that you can perceive clarity to its very depths, as far as the eye can see, and at the same time everything becomes weightless. Thus does the soul truly become a bird.