I heard a story on National Public Radio yesterday about how cannon balls have become a potential problem in Charleston, S.C.
Alexandra Olgin reported that these possibly dangerous relics from the Revolutionary and Civil wars become unearthed during construction projects, after hurricanes and sometimes randomly in someone’s backyard. Some of the artifacts contain black powder and need to be detonated.
Digging in the dirt at the community garden, I often wonder what else has happened in my spot. Did settlers centuries ago try to grow a garden in the same location? What conversations have taken place on the land where I now discuss where to plant my corn and beans? Did anyone ever build a house on the property? Did someone famous like President George Washington ever step through my garden? Maybe he slept there.
Every spot has a history. My dad used to talk about looking for native American arrowheads in fields near his house when he was a boy.
In our rented garden, mostly I find plastic garden tags, zip ties and pieces of string that surface from previous growing seasons. One summer I unearthed a tomato juice can, and I’ve removed buckets of pebbles and rocks. But I’ve never found anything historic such as an arrowhead and thankfully nothing remotely as dramatic as a cannon ball.
Each year, I try to keep our plot clear of debris, not only for my present-day neighbors, but also for those who might pass through my spot in the future. Inevitably I’ll probably lose a button or drop a coin in the soil without knowing. If I do, I wonder who will find them.
Last week, snow and ice glazed the local ground and trees after a Nor’easter rolled through, reminding antsy gardeners like me that winter wasn’t over.
After town crews cleared the roads, I drove by the community garden to look at the plots. Snow roughly blanketed the flat vacant fields. Statues looked like someone had dipped them in ice. Fringed sleeves of clear frozen water dangled from the brittle tree branches and bushes.
A few days later, conditions improved. The sun emerged and melted away the winter scene. I drove by the community garden again on my way to rent a space for 2017. St. Patrick’s Day with its promise of green seemed like a great time to sign up. The ground remained frozen, but the outdoor scene free of snow radiated with simplicity and sunshine.
Tonight, the Green Thumbs are getting together to make plans for this year’s garden. I envision growing rows of beans and flowers, maybe an old-seed patch, and staples such as peppers, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini.
Whatever we decide to plant, the ground can start to thaw now and temperatures can warm up. The calendar says spring, and we’re ready to garden.
In addition to growing our own vegetables each summer, my family likes to join a CSA. A medium share each week from the Community Supported Agriculture complements our harvest and insures that if our novice efforts at the community garden fail, we will still sit down at the end of the day to a meal made from fresh, locally-grown food.
The Green Thumbs have had success each year with the familiar crops of cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, beans, squash, and zucchini. Our onions and lettuce have had good years and bad. Our corn quality was phenomenal last year. But our potato quantity fizzled.
I like the security of knowing that a professional farmer is backing us up with the basics and growing vegetables less familiar to our garden such as broccoli rabe, beets and Bok choy.
The weekly surprise of the CSA menu also interests me. Whereas I know what our family plants and how far along the vegetables are growing, someone else tends to the CSA farm. The grower sends us an advanced email of what to expect, but on busy weeks my first glance of our share is what’s written on the board in the barn at pickup.
My youngest son likes to experiment in the kitchen, so the mix of vegetables from two different places offers him a creative challenge. He turns kale from the CSA into chips, and strawberries from the community garden into dessert. In between, he mixes vegetables from both places to create a tasteful stir-fry dish.
A notice came this week that registration has opened for the community garden. In addition, my local CSA is accepting members. Our family plans to sign up for both.