I suppose it is premature to start imagining the scent of fresh bread in the oven, baking the flour we have ground from our own wheat from the garden; but one can always hope. This week, with the help of friends, sections 1 and 4 of the garden were cleared, forked, and replanted with winter wheat. “Hard Red” winter wheat to be exact. If the cultivation goes as planned, the broadcasted seeds will germinate in the next few weeks, get established through the fall, go dormant through the winter while serving as a beneficial cover crop, revive and flourish through the spring until ready to harvest in early June. And then find its way into a few loaves of homemade bread.
As I say, that's the working premise.
So, we ordered the organic regional seeds, waited around until the season moved past the garlic, then the corn and finally the potatoes, making available those planting areas for next use, then turned the trenches around. Focusing the wheat in sections 1 and 4 will leave 2 and 3 free for vegetable planting in mid-May. Once the wheat is out in early summer we can follow up in those areas with more vegetables. You know, “staging.”
At the risk of sounding repetitive, that's the idea.
There still remains some tidying up and final sowing in this grand and grainy experiment. Section 1 continues to cradle two partial rows of sweet potatoes, and section 4 has unfinished business with two rows of okra and one divided between peppers and sorghum; all of which should have finished their runs by the middle of October – barely inside the closing window of wheat planting opportunity, but hopefully time enough to recycle those emptied rows into grain. And then we cross our fingers and wait.
Meanwhile, a half-inch of rain fell this morning which should jump-start the seeds into germination, and the greenhouse surprised me this morning with sprouting in the containers from the cold-weather lettuce seeds planted earlier this week with winter salads in mind.
And so it is that we find ourselves looking ahead -- to fresh greens in early winter and fresh bread in early summer, with seed catalogs, soil blocking, and transplanting in between.
I confess to some awkwardness regarding this business of living so much in the future. Every religious tradition, after all, places an encouraging premium on mindfulness -- paying full attention to life in the present moment. And I understand that one can expend so much consciousness on yesterday and tomorrow that today simply implodes for lack of air. There are, to be sure, tomatoes still on the vine that I refuse to squander; peppers to pick before they turn to squish and okra to pull before they turn to wood. The present, indeed, makes demands of its own.
But the schoolhouse of this gardening business has taught me that if I have any hope of picking something today I better have thought about it long enough some weeks or months ago to have sown the seeds and pulled the weeds. Which is to say that the garden seems to be that mystical place where the past and the present and the future join hands in wondrous celebration.
And we are ones who get to sing along as we pull up a chair to the table, lift a fork and, with a satisfied, anticipatory smile...