How Our Gardens Grow – 6/4/12

Easing into June this week, I found myself wondering where exactly May had gone, but then remembered that I seem to always feel that way this time of year. Taking time for one’s self is an essential skill that doesn’t come easily to all of us. So many visitors, guests, and friends to meet and spend time with, so many gatherings and events going on every day—it is easy to feel stretched thin. On the other hand, those of us who can’t get enough of village life are rarely bored.

The garden is one of the most calming places for me at the moment. More so than in any previous year, and thanks to the energies of our work exchangers and DR visitors helping out, Ironweed garden is almost completely planted, and more weed-free and immaculately tended than ever. Volunteers like milkweed, mullein, sunflowers and ironweed, which we allow space for each year, rub shoulders with rapidly growing tomatoes, head lettuce, broccoli, beets, carrots and all the rest. Even the rabbit or two that we can’t seem to flush out of the garden can’t do any serious damage to the abundant growth.

Ted here from Dancing Rabbit with this week’s update.

The three sisters bed of sweet corn, pole beans, and butternut squash vibrates with mutually supportive green growth this early June. The beans’ roots fix nitrogen for the heavy-feeding corn, which in turn offers the beans perfect scaffolding to grow on; meanwhile the squash also benefits from the extra nitrogen, and contributes a natural herbicide when rain washes over its leaves, minimizing competition for the trio. Given that all three were domesticated in Mesoamerica and grown together by native Americans for millennia, I feel deeply connected to this place and the long human tradition of agriculture when I renew the association every year. The corn will be knee-high within a week or two.

The recent spell of dry weather has made clear that some of our garlic is very nearly ready for harvest as well. That means gearing up for the several-weeks-long process of harvest, cleaning, sorting, bundling, drying, storing, and selling some of the crop. It also means we’ll have plenty of fresh garlic to stick in the jars of dilly beans and okra we’ll be canning later in the summer, for which heads of dill seed are also currently forming. The pittance of rain we got last week wasn’t quite enough, though. Time for another rain dance.

Speaking of dancing, Ziggy and April hosted a wedding-themed dance party Friday evening. There was no wedding to celebrate, but in anticipation of the timber-framing and straw bale workshops they’ll soon be hosting for the building of their new house Strawtron, they’ve recently acquired the sort of enormous white tent with windows that is sometimes employed for weddings. Given how hard they’ve been working lately on the framing of the floor with massive beams and joists, perhaps they just needed an evening to relax a little. In any case, it was well attended with plenty of dancing, general revelry, sharp suits and shimmering dresses. Nani and Dave did it up with the bride and groom finery from their wedding last year, now with baby Abigail in arms. Just another Friday night at Dancing Rabbit.

Thomas has lately been heading up the process of tree planting on the land trust in connection with a new CRP contract, hosting work parties three days a week to get the 600 native trees from the state nursery into the ground. The hot, dry weather has made for extra work hauling water from the pond to first soften the ground for planting and then bathe the seedlings’ roots. These trees bring the number planted on various parts of the land trust to something over 13,000 since we bought the land in 1997. Some of the earliest ones planted are now turning the once-bare Mullein Hill, over on the border with Red Earth Farms, into a forested expanse bridging two water courses. I often look forward to the years down the road when I’ll walk under these trees and rest in their shade.

We’re rapidly approaching the 10-new-residents threshold we set back in winter at retreat for a check-in on how it’s feeling in terms of integration, availability of common space, and so on. Those 10 are in addition to the more than 10 newly-arrived residents this spring who were accepted last year.

The current level of growth, and its continuance from last year to this, exceeds anything I’ve seen in my almost 10 years in residence here. More interviews scheduled this week, as well as current residents making the transition to membership. Busy times!

The addition we’re adding to our house down at Ironweed reached a new milestone last week when we closed up the last gap in the shell with a bit of clay-straw insulation. The latest clutches having fledged recently, it is now possible to dissuade the house sparrows from nesting inside. With the ceiling and its wool insulation nearly finished now, we’ll soon turn to earthen floors. Meanwhile we’ve stripped the old exterior walls, now inside, in preparation for putting some doors through them– the old insulation came out of the walls and went straight into the ceiling to supplement the wool. We’ll soon have our wind turbine up next to the kitchen. We also bid farewell to our Australian friend and work exchanger Leah, headed on to new adventures, and welcomed former Lobelia work exchanger Sequoia back to the village to join our crew for the summer.

On a sad note, Sharon lost her dog and good friend Quila this week. She was 15 and a half, or 97 in dog time, and Sharon expressed joy that Quila had been able to roam free in our green village these last several years of her life. A dozen folks joined Sharon and Dennis to lay their friend to rest under a tree right next to their future home. She is already missed.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit in Rutledge, northeast Missouri, focused on sustainable living. We offer free tours to the public twice monthly on 2nd and 4th Saturdays at 1pm. The next will be June 9th. Meanwhile, for more information you can visit our website www.dancingrabbit.org or give us a call at (660) 883-5511.

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