Saturday, February 4, 2012


I have been sick this week, sick still while I write this. I have what's "been going around" - a head cold - which I am, at turns, fighting or courting or dancing with, in order to send it on its way before it becomes a chest cold. I am at that stage where there is a pot of clean water boiling all day long, so that I may have tea at all times, so I don't cough even once. And I have spoken very few words for the past 5 days. I hope it works, as I have 2 recitals to sing in the next 2 weeks, not to mention a solo tomorrow morning. So, I rest.

According to the pagan calendar, February 1 is Imbolc, which is the day of new beginnings, and the day to put the plow to the earth for the first time. I have been struck before by the similarity of the planting calendar of the Southwest and that of the British Isles, which holds that "Spring" begins February 1st. In the US, the traditional date for the first day of Spring coincides with the Vernal Equinox. This year, because it is a leap year (!), the Vernal Equinox occurs on March 20. But if Spring is the time to sow seeds into the fertile earth, March 20 is too late, too long to wait, in the Southwest. So we must follow the planting calendar of England and Ireland and Scotland.

This is mystery to me.  In what way would the Sonoran Desert resemble the climate of the British Isles? We are dry, hot and desolate, and brown, while they - as I understand it - are verdant, lush, green. They are much further north of the Equator than are we, and though the days are now getting longer for all inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere, it is difficult for me to imagine a climate far north of ours that is readying itself for planting. And yet, here we are, both areas putting plow to earth, putting seeds in the fertile soil. Where last week the air outside said, rest, relax, it's Winter yet, it now says hurry, hurry, seeds in the ground, ladies, chop chop.

And so we planted, or rather, Larry did; on February 1st, tomato and pepper and tomatillo seeds in the the Godzilla plot, consequently giving up on and pulling the remainder of the Chinese cabbage growing there.
MY LESSON LEARNED: Proximity rules can matter. I had thought that the rules were basically guidelines, and that many crops can be grown much tighter than suggested. And certainly, as an urban farm, this theory would be to our advantage - cramming as many crops as possible into a small footprint.  Chinese cabbage, however, must be separated by about 12 inches apart. Otherwise they foster cabbage worms and aphid infestations of a scale impossible to control without spraying (which we won't do) or just pulling the whole crop. My lessons in insect infestations continue. Ew.

It is Imbolc, Spring. The earth is awakening, the seeds are in the ground, gathering strength from the soil and the water and the warmth of the sun as they prepare to burst forth into the air.

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