GrowGood farmhand Mary MacVean writes on how she's seeing the farm differently:
I’m starting my second season at GrowGood, and it’s startling how differently I’m seeing the farm. Little seedlings I put in the ground have yielded their food and been taken out of their rows. In fact, many of the rows have been completely reorganized into beds. New crops are in the ground or being readied for transplant.
Now, about four months after I arrived, I look at unplanted ground and see potential I didn’t understand then. I’m eager for the carrots, chard, broccoli, kale and other foods that will be picked all fall.
And those tomatoes I found so completely charming as we tied the vines up fences? I’m growing impatient with them and with the melons that still are not ripe – beautiful fruit hanging on tight to vines that are drying out and crinkling up.
The changes to the rows should make the farm more productive, says the farm manager, Corinne McAndrews. We’ve been digging ditches (In all honesty, some of us have done some digging, but it’s James who gets the lion’s share of credit on that.) to create beds that are four feet by 40 feet; significantly wider than the old rows. She says that will give us more space for plantingmore diversely while preserving access for maintenance and harvesting. It might make walking around a bit harder, but the changes will feed our mission of feeding people who need abundant, nutritious food.
The June bugs, which harbor no respect for the actual sixth month, are – at long last -- very rare. But I’m delighted by the dozens of baby lizards scooting everywhere we walk. There are hawks in the air, and the days are growing shorter, though mid-September is leaving us with Southern California’s usual late-summer heat.
That heat seems to have contributed to a sad moment at GrowGood. Germana, one of the four chickens who amuse everyone who comes to the farm -- and provide eggs – died. She was found on a Sunday morning and buried that afternoon. She is missed.
In preparation for next year, we’ve saved seeds for next spring from many plants, but there’s still one tomato plant, a Cherokee purple, that carries a sign not to pick it to preserve the seeds.
We’ve picked the first of the chard, and we’re beginning to send acorn squash, a hard-shell variety, into the kitchen at the Salvation Army Bell Shelter.
McAndrews says she’s always thinking three or four months ahead, so in June she was thinking about our fall harvest. Unlike my backyard garden, GrowGood doesn’t run on a whimsical choice of what seems appealing in the shop. In the summer, she talked about what crops had to be in the ground by early September, what will grow in October, when the temperature may stay high but the light will be diminished – spinaches, chiles, late-season tomatoes.
Also ahead are bunching onions, Chinese cabbages and heat-tolerant lettuces. And of course we will have root vegetables: carrots, beets and radishes. I planted two rows of purple queen garlic recently; it won’t be ready until next summer.