My continuation of Sharon Astyk’s now-completed “Independence Days” project (June-Aug 2022), which offered a framework for recognising how we’re building resiliency, community, and accountability that will make our lives better now and in the future. Many of Sharon’s categories are (or could be) related to gardening, so it seems to fit here on this blog. Equally, none of them has to do with gardening. They’re all multifaceted.

  • Plant something: plant, start something

I planted some things! Lots of things. On Wednesday, we picked up previously ordered native plants from a local nursery and that afternoon in went seven tomatoes (six various cherry tomatoes and one Cherokee Purple ) and three basil starts, plus three early figworts, one New Jersey tea shrub, and another round of scarlet runner beans. Thursday I went to another local nursery/farmstand and when I got home I spent three hours planting three native columbine, five wood sedge (carex blanda), three native bluestem goldenrod, one thalictrum ‘Nimbus Pink,’ three nodding onions, three coleus, and four annual begonias. Friday I planted the last two, a ‘Blue Glitter’ eryngium (replacing one from last year that did not re-emerge) and a native gray dogwood shrub.

Before and after being planted:

Also on Friday, I and a friend who knows something about tuberous begonias planted out another friend’s tuberous yellow begonias (8 or 10 of them, with his permission) in the front planters of his house, accompanied by fresh compost. Hopefully they will look pretty decent by the time he returns home, possibly next week.

On Saturday we switched from the winter comforter to the summer one, i.e., the official start of summer here in the household.

  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

My husband gleaned a Dirt Devil upright vacuum from the dump swap table on Thursday. He cleaned it up and we’ll put it to the test this coming week.

I harvested our chives again on Friday for that penne-asparagus dish I like to make in spring. I need to harvest arugula and kale. The peas have flowers!

  • Preserve something: food or local community resource

Preserved local resources: I bought plants, food, and compost from local farmstand/nursery on Thursday. Friday we ate outside at local bakery. I shopped at the regional co-op on Tuesday.

Preserved sanity: This was a week of catching up with things after being gone the previous week; it felt too busy, with external events each weekday. And it rained quite a bit, or threatened to, so not many walks taken, but we did walk the lake on Sunday, which was relaxing. We also took a few short walks in town. And I spent about 10 hours gardening.

Lake walk:

  • Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage, repair, give away to an actual person

Our neighbours gave us some snowshoes and a book on Monday. A friend lent us a tomato cage.

  • Want Not: food and emergency supplies, increase economic security, reorganize to use/waste less

I once again did a big reorg of the Amazon Subscribe & Save stuff this week, skipping some deliveries and bringing forward others, cancelling one or two altogether.

  • Eating The Food: shop the pantry, new recipes, creative use of leftovers, help feed others

Not at all creative this week, as I often finished gardening around 5 and was not in the mood to cook. Store-bought Indian food on Monday and Tuesday (with samosas and papadums), soy burgers with sautéd asparagus and mac & cheese on Wed., grilled soy hot dogs on Thursday with corn and leftover mac & cheese, that penne-asparagus-pine nut dish on Friday with shrimp and fresh spinach, and then again on Saturday, and grilled hot dogs (soy/beef) with the usual on Sunday. Having the hot dogs (soy for me, beef for husband usually) frequently once they’re opened is “reducing waste” as opened packages need to be used within a week or so. Hopefully this coming week will see more home cooking and more shopping the pantry.

Husband made crumpets on Saturday with the ring set he found at the dump a while ago. They turned out better this time than last with tweaks to the recipe.

  • Caregiving/Mutual Aid: contribute to community support systems, volunteer, mutual aid, advocate

Husband volunteered at local car museum for about 10 hours total on Tues and Thurs.

We’re still watering plants and bringing in mail (and planting begonias) for friend recovering from knee surgery. I’m grateful to my (other) friend for helping me with the begonia planting on Friday.

  • Skill up: particularly if they help us get along, grow, make our new reality better

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week (on the rainy days) transfering and entering data about my garden plants into the database my husband made. I’m hoping it will improve my gardening and my garden in the long run. Also, I learned a little about planting tuberous begonias after they’ve been overwintered.

  • Tend & Maintain: cleaning stuff, replacing supplies, car or bike maintenance, stuff to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line

Nothing I did, but my sister finally got her pacemaker batteries replaced on Friday, which is a relief.

We’ve had an ant infestation in the kitchen (and a bit in a bathroom) for a couple of weeks, only made worse by our being away for several days, so my husband doubled down with not only ant traps but some kind of poison gel laid down on their paths to and from their nest. Knock on wood, the last couple of days have been almost ant-free.

Husband replaced a band saw blade. I washed and dried the winter comforter and shams on Sat. and stored them away for next year (i.e., October). I watered the houseplants, also on Sat., something I often forget to do.

I had a dental cleaning (part two) on Tuesday.

  • Winter is coming: making our relationships, family life, home, community, immediate surroundings, jobs better for a long and hard upcoming year or few years

Chatted with neighbours and others a few times this week while outside in the garden, walking, or at stores. Texted and emailed quite a bit with friends and family.

I participated in Dharma Sunday via Zoom for 2 hours, a meditation session plus teaching on The Five Powers (faith/conviction, dedication/effort, mindfulness/loving awareness, steadiness/concentration, and discernment/wisdom).

Also participated in Zoom permaculture meeting on Thursday (5 of us) and in-person Salon on Friday (5 of us), which was very lively and fun.

At this time of year and for the next few months, I’m actively focusing my energy on improving the yard, my “immediate surroundings,” both for me/us (beauty, food, ease of maintenance) and for the other animals that inhabit it (pollinators, insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals). This year it doesn’t seem like as much work as last year, maybe because I’ve been weeding and pruning and doing the “chores” in smaller doses, starting earlier in the season because we had warmer weather. I’m not trying to grow as varied a vegetable garden this year, because our space is quite limited; I’ve chosen to focus on some crops that are pretty rewarding to grow, like garlic, peas, herbs, beans, edible flowers, and arugula. We can buy cucumbers, squash, and other things that grow on sprawling vines or are more demanding at the local farmstand, supporting them while eating fresh veggies that aren’t taking up space in our garden. That’s the plan, anyway.

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