Celebrating the Growing of Food in Ajo, as well as the community spirit behind it all
Betsy Wirt is a brave and adventurous gardener. We have all been wondering if sweet potatoes would do well in Ajo. So Betsy took a couple of organic sweet potatoes, cut them into eye pieces, and planted them in one half of a Loma Bonita bed.
The vines have flourished so vigorously this summer that we cannot walk between the beds. It is a sweet potato jungle! The vines are dark green, with beautiful blue flowers, but now we are all wondering, “Are there any potatoes down there under all those vines?”
Betsy is waiting until the leaves turn brown before she digs, and believe me, we will all be watching her!
Our friends Elmer and Dolly Decinal have also planted sweet potatoes in Ajo, but they did so in large containers. They harvest only the leaves, which Dolly steams (no stems), adding chopped tomatoes, onion, lemon juice and soy sauce. This dish, called camote tops, is used as a salad or appetizer. Wonder if there are any potatoes lurking in the bottom of Elmer’s containers?
Next May, I will be ordering 1,000 sweet potato plants from a North Carolina grower. They will cost only $50, plus $20 postage. If you would like to try growing them, please send me an email to reserve your seedlings, let’s say $7.00 per 100 and $3.50 per 50 plants.
Of course you all know why potatoes make good detectives, don’t you… because they keep their eyes peeled!
"I think," said the sweet potato, "therefore, I yam."
Click here to see other Kitchen Garden columns by Gayle
From Coyote Gardens:
Today, I am giving thanks for you all. Your support of the community farm and the network in general is breathtaking. You responded in such numbers to my call for help, I was speachless. You shared the sorrow, you offered consolation, advice, big picture view. You offered new plants, you brought new plants, you offered food from your gardens to replenish the CSA shares, you offered to waive your CSA shares. You offered to spend the night in the garden, you offered to dig a roasting hole for the pig, to find stew recipes. You gently replanted the damaged plants, patted the soil to smooth out javelina marks around the survivors, retied and retrained the nibbled pea plants. You found the first pea flower! You gave hugs, smiles, encouragement; you teased, you shared jokes and deep philosophical thoughts. You redid the ENTIRE fence, offered advice on how to secure the gates with springs, what signs to put on the gates to remind us all of hungry piggies. You came by just to check on us. You told your friends, and they checked on us, too. You made the incident look like nothing. You show how EASY it is when our hearts, minds and hands work TOGETHER. You make my heart swell. Today, I am giving thanks for you all.
Despite the javelina's feast, your shares, as they are, are ready for the pickup in the fridge. Sadly, I could not substitute the lettuce this week, and the Chinese cabbage share is smaller, but you are receiving everything else on the list.
Knowing that all of you listed broccoli and lettuce as your favorite items, we staggered succesive plantings to grow enough of them to put in your shares weekly during the growing window we have here. We lost about 3 weekly shares of head lettuce, and at least 2 shares of broccoli - all scheduled for February. At this point I do not know whether the peas will recover (planned to be in the share by the middle of February, and since the frost killed two of the other plantings, and damaged two more, these were the star performers), and whether the turnips and beets will recover (scheduled to be in the shares in March).
Looking on the bright side, the distributed agriculture model really works! Other gardens did not get damaged, and further on, several people, including shareholders, stepped forward and offered food to stuff your shares!
This has been an emotional rollercoster for me and Peter, and I am sure for you, too. I am coming out on the other end, with garden replanted and reinforced, deeply touched by everyone's response and grateful to be a part of such community.
This morning a sad sight was waiting for us in the Courtyard: javelinas got in over the night, and destroyed our large plantings of the spring crops: broccoli, Chinese cabbages, lettuces - all ready to be harvested tomorrow morning for the CSA shares, all are gone. Beets, turnips, spinach, mustards - gone. Onions were uprooted, and so were some potatoes. Peas, just about to flower, look haggered, we will see if they recover.
At this point I do not know yet the extent of all the damage. A lot of work invested is gone, meals are gone. Staggered planting assures staggered harvest, and we have no time now to replace weeks of mature plants. Several hundred dollars worth of food was destroyed. We will feel it all in the weeks to come - the CSA shares will be smaller, and much less food will be availabe for sale at the 2nd Saturday Farmers Market.
PLEASE: if you enter any of our gardens, always make sure you close the gate when you leave.
Instead of having a pickup/food talk at the Dolce garden, we will have a work session in the Courtyard, 10 am, fortifying the fence.
Click here to see other Coyote Gardens columns by Nina
Rob and Mary Broussard are installing a major new garden at 700 Lyons! Click on the thumbnails to enlarge:
Rototilling in flip-flops - don't try this at home!
The planned layout - beautiful!
Three feet deep!
The GGGG crew after finishing Morgana Cooper's new garden - Peter, Antonio, Sylvia, Sonia, Wayne and Miriam