With garden season well underway, we’ve crossed into the time of the dirty fingernails and the frequent use of a hard-bristled brush by the sink for intense hand-scrubbing. Many of you will be familiar with a particular spot on the thumb-side of the top knuckle of the index finger. Somewhere in the mechanics of gardening, this spot has a particular tendency to attract – and hold on to – dirt. Some call it a farmer tattoo. Once it’s there, good luck scrubbing it out. It’s with you for the season and it’s a subtle reminder that your life involves having hands in the soil. I like it.
One of my morning routines is a visit to our indoor table of seedlings – the ones that aren’t quite ready yet to move out to the sometimes-too-chilly propagation house. My morning visits to the seedlings are something like Christmas morning – every day. Andy will be stirring the breakfast porridge and I’ll be shouting over to him “the first broccoli is up!” or “look how much this zucchini grew overnight!”. I love helping seeds turn into plants that we can eat. Or that look beautiful. Or that bring more bees to us. Or that will improve our soil health. It feels like a real privilege to get to be a part of the process.
In a mere 13 days, we’re leaving for a two-week stint in the Brisbane area. The timing, of course, means that we’ll be leaving the garden at a pretty critical moment! Which means that we’re doing a lot of planning to try to make sure that the garden can work away independently in our absence and that we won’t come back to find areas too dried out and overtaken by weeds. We’re into a concentrated period of weeding and planting. And watering and mulching. And wind sheltering and plant pep-talking. Hopefully, the result will be returning from Brisbane to find the garden thriving.
In between garden work/play, our weeks also involve Monday morning tai chi with a fine group of ladies in Glentunnel. It’s a great start to the week and we’re starting to get it down well enough to do little bits of tai chi at home in between our weekly group sessions. I’ve also been volunteering once a week at the SPCA – it’s a chance to do something a bit outside my regular routine…and to play with kittens.
On the program side at Toi Toi Manawa – we’ve got a soap-making workshop coming up, more documentary screenings, an exhibit in the Sustainable Living area of the upcoming Wine and Food Festival in Christchurch (our chickens are going to be superstars there!) and more workshops in the line up for 2013 – they’ll include herbs, soil health, companion planting, and bee keeping…for a start! We’ve also registered as WWOOF hosts now and are looking forward to hosting our first official WWOOFers.
On the topic of hosting wonderful visitors – I had a huge treat last week when my dear friend Kate came to visit. I met Kate in El Salvador and was over the moon to hear that she was getting a one-way ticket to New Zealand. There was a huge wave of happiness for me to be picking up a friendly, familiar face at the airport and to have her company on the farm for a little while. As luck would have it, we were contacted by another Kate around the same time – a lovely English woman who had caught wind of Toi Toi Manawa and wanted to come and volunteer for a bit. So all of a sudden we went from 0 Kates to 2 Kates! The two of them were an amazing help to us last week as we blasted through our garden list. It’s incredible what a jolt of energy comes from having a couple more positive and enthusiastic helpers around. And best of all, Kate and Kate found travel companions in one another and are now on the road together in a camper van exploring the South Island. So nice!
I’ll leave you with a few photos and say so long for now. But just before I do, if you’ve got a couple of minutes extra, I’d encourage you to vote for Dream Weavers Collective here. It’s a great initiative offering support for young adults on the autism spectrum in Toronto – and co-spearheaded by my good friend, Amanda.
Happy almost-November everyone!