Over the past several weeks, the straw mulch that was stacked on the soil of our raised garden beds has slowly gotten shorter. It is now almost level with the top of the wood sides. In addition, tall patches of grass have begun to grow from the straw, and this makes me wonder if the straw I purchased was completely seedless. I could clip the grass back, though this is where having a goat would come in handy. Unfortunately, tract home associations, close-proximity neighbors and our dog Hiro would not mix well with a goat in a small backyard. Like other suburban households, what will most likely happen is that the lawn maintenance man, my husband, will eventually take his weed-whacker to those rogue blades of grass.
I know some people are braving the weather for vegetables that grow well in the cold, or maybe planting things that can be planted in the cold for a late winter or early spring harvest. But right now I’m taking some time for rejuvenation, and like our garden, hibernation is my current mode. Even in hibernation though, nothing living is completely still; in sleep mode the heart still beats, and underneath the straw mulch the microbes and bacteria and earthworms in the soil are no doubt working away. Likewise, while hibernating, I’m busy either working in the kitchen, reading, writing an upcoming post, or attending to the ever-present duties of the household.
While I linger inside for awhile, I’d like to recommend a couple books, both related to growing your own food. The first book I’m currently working my way through is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. The book details her family’s experience of moving from Tucson, Arizona, to a farm in Virginia, with the intention of living off only food they or their community of neighbors have produced. In addition to Barbara’s narrative, throughout the book are sidebar contributions from her husband Steven on ecology and agriculture. Barbara’s daughter Camille also contributes what is essentially a food blog at the end of nearly every chapter, complete with an introductory narrative and followed by recipes or weekly menu lists.
The second book, The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love, is about journalist Kristin Kimball’s journey from city dweller to farm builder alongside her husband Mark, whom she met while interviewing for a story. Together Kristin and Mark run Essex Farm, with a mission to provide food and improve the land and community around them.
I hope you’ll remember to take some respite from the cold this winter, find a warm place to rest, and feed your soul and spirit. That’s where I’ll be, while my garden gently sleeps.