Earlier, I wrote about my garden journal as an essential garden tool. It is, especially as the seasons continue and I go back and compare notes. Let's see: when did I plant those peas last year? What varieties? When did they start to bear? When were they finished? What went into that bed when the peas were done?
But for me, an equally essential tool is my garden plan. I've set up a basic template on my computer, outlining the beds. (This could be done with pencil/pen just as easily.) I've numbered each bed and dated the plan. Then I go to work with my pencil, figuring out what goes where and when. Some crops need to be rotated, always a juggling act because my garden is currently fairly small (about 400 square feet of raised beds). I also have to take into account the fact that I live in a climate that permits a two-season garden. I do a lot of interplanting, as well: okra grows up, sweet potatoes grow down--they're good bedmates. I do a lot of erasing on my plan, and it evolves as the season goes on. But that sure beats planting and pulling up. A little pencil work saves a lot of time and energy. Do you make a plan for your garden? How does it work for you?
Book report. I'm taking a breather from writing this week. Cat's Claw flew off to New York, along with a proposal for the next three books in the China Bayles series--#21, 22, and 23, a fact that takes my breath away. China and I have been working on her projecct for a looong time. I also finished the copyedit of The Tale of Castle Cottage (the final book in the Beatrix Potter series); the page proofs for the hardcover edition (also available as an ebook) of The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies, due out on July 5; and the page proofs for the paperback edition of The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree also July 5. Whew.
Next up on the writing desk: The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose. This book's backstory involves the "real" Confederate rose: Rose O'Neal Greenhow, who spied for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Don't know how that's going to work out just yet. It'll be fun to find out.
Coming events. But my writing time will be limited, because April is travel month, with the publication of Mourning Gloria on April 5. I'm no longer doing national tours (just takes too much time, energy, and gasoline--and you know how I feel about saving energy!). But I'm still doing some Texas travel: Beaumont, Houston, Rockport, Victoria, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas/Lewisville. You can check out the complete calendar here.
This morning, I'm heading out to the garden. It's time to take the plastic wind sleeves off the tomato cages and transplant the broccoli, pepper, and eggplant seedlings I've been raising under lights. Time to plant the sweet corn, too--altho that's as much a testament to gardening faith as it is to gardening savvy. We never get enough sweet corn to justify the space I give it. But I always hope that another variety will do better, that the weather will be more cooperative, and that the raccoons won't climb that fence.
Hope. Faith. That's what gardening is all about.
Reading note. We need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine. True, this is easier said than done — fossil fuel is deeply implicated in everything about the way we currently grow food and feed ourselves. To put the food system back on sunlight will require policies to change how things work at every link in the food chain: in the farm field [and the garden], in the way food is processed and sold and even in the American kitchen and at the American dinner table. Yet the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does. If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food.--Michael Pollan