growing greens… and letting go

i love to grow food.  admittedly i am a bit lazy sometimes about watering or tending, but i generally am stoked to play in the soil, talk to the plants, give them goodies like compost tea and worm castings, and generally nurture something besides my kitty and my boyfriend.

collard greens!

the problem is, i have always lived in rental houses!  i don’t think this is a problem itself- i do like houses and all– but it comes to be an issue when you have plants like avocado trees, citrus trees, and edible greens that live for years… but i only have six month leases!   i recently moved from oahu to maui; not a huge jump geographically… but definitely a journey.  moving houses repeatedly (three times by the end of this year!) means that i am donating established gardens to others (like i did twice on oahu) which is pretty cool, but i would very much like a little piece of land of my own.
on maui there was a possibility of such a place, at the big farmhouse on the hill.  but, after only one month  we chose to leave (for a myriad of reasons).  after weeks of searching we found a cute house closer to civilization- but still only for six months.  i’m certainly not complaining- the house is great; there is a big garage for my mechanically-gifted man and gardening space for both of us, including fruiting banana trees and a lemon tree.  soon after moving in we realized that the soil was in bad shape and that the plants (and soil) were all suffering from an overdose of miracle-gro (and bad landscaping…).  but we got to work!

big basils

we set about trimming, pruning, uprooting, watering, and loving the yard; and i began on the two small raised beds in the front.  i uprooted and transplanted all the ugly ‘ornamentals’ and transplanted in some basil, collards, pole beans, squashes, and lots of marigolds.   the squashes did not make it, nor did the beans, but other plants really took off.  after the initial weeding and clearing we added in worm castings (poop), humic acid (concentrated compost), and other soil amendments from the local eco garden shop.  about a month ago we added in some homemade compost tea and then things really started to pop!  the collards went from ok to oh-ma-gawd.  super healthy, big and bright- i have three plants to harvest from now.  the basil plants are also going crazy- i have never seen a basil this big!  i am also growing marigolds throughout the beds, and they are already re-populating the soil with the prolific seeds.

small red ursa kales

having run out of room in the beds (there are weird sun patterns and two strange dying palms taking up lots of space), i decided to use some planter boxes.  i think movable gardens are great, but the difference between plants grown in pots compared to the soil is pretty remarkable, and i like to keep them in the ground if i can.  but, the pots definitely work when one has only limited amount of space. so, i’ve planted a (rare, heirloom) red ursa kale and some beautiful purple choi sum.  the kales are still a bit small, but the choi sum is really amazing: beautiful green leaves with bright purple stems- makes your stir fry that much more colorful!

purple choi sum

so, that is my garden… for now.  but we have to move in just a few months and this will all be left behind.  at this point in my life  i very much want to find a place and really settle into it.  the past year of my life has been full of big changes and i am ready to be done (saturn returns… are you listening! i’m done!).

i want to be a (semi-) homesteader, growing and cooking my own foods, nurturing my partner, and caring for the land.   i would like to plant trees, grow greens and let them seed, and know that i can continue learning in one spot, nurturing the soil with organic practices and love.  and i would really like some chickens.  and maybe a goat too.

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