I’m salivating already…contemplating the harvest. Nothing can motivate us more to get out in the heat and put seeds in the ground than the idea of eating that luscious melon or stringbeans bursting with flavor, straight from the garden! Ah, anticipation! Thinking about what taste treats and nutritional benefits we might harvest a few months later can inspire us now to prep soil, browse seed racks, and get busy planting with the monsoon!
Tia Marta here to share garden-to-table thoughts and ideas. Necessary ingredients and skills to bring: some stooped labor, lots of time, rain, patience, and perhaps songs will be needed for assisting plants into their food-giving maturity. I like to think of “companion planting” as the partnership we commit ourselves to when we garden– just me and the plant, a dynamic duo. We so need each other. In this era of instant gratification (like fast money in exchange for something to stuff in the belly), we lose sight of the plant “companions” who are really growing our food. What “companions” can we trust as well as ourselves?
Gardening provides new interactive games, new pets, beings to care for, a lively antidote to self-centered life.
We at NativeSeeds/SEARCH and Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace’s Mission Garden are planting –and planning– right now for a harvest feast in October: the right Native American teparies, the most delicious heirloom squash, the best free-range local beef, the sweetest Southwestern heirloom GMO-free corn, the most pungent local chiles, the most flavorful melons, combined with the rich white Sonora wheat harvested from the winter garden. Put the NSS/Mission Garden local foods feast on your calendar for October 18, and plan to join fellow locavores and food aficionados for a special down-home Farm-to-Table Picnic— very little distance between the farm where the food was grown and the table where we will break bread together and sip local sangria.
If you are looking for ideas for planting, there are wonderful helpers at the NativeSeeds/SEARCH store at 3061 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, ready to share their monsoon gardening experiences and tested tricks. Every Thursday 2-4pm expert gardener Chad Borseth will be there to give a timely demo and to answer questions. Bring your queries to him–doubtless your questions and the answers will be of help to other fellow gardeners as well. ALSO for those new to the gardening game, and for veteran gardeners who want a head-start, try planting starts for a leg-up. They can be so much more dependable than planting seeds. You can find a diversity of summer plant starts at the NativeSeeds/SEARCH MONSOON PLANT SALE coming up soon–next Friday thru Sunday, July 17-19, at the Campbell Avenue store. There will be many varieties of chile pepper including our native chiltepin, tomatoes, okra, heirloom squashes and pumpkins, melons, corn, beans, even summer wildflowers…. Come early, as they get snapped up fast.
Vulnerable and a little fragile at first, these Southwest heirlooms actually hold in their genes the ability to produce quantities of good food, abiding the unpredictable ups and downs of rainfall and temperature in the desert monsoon season. With tending, they can be little powerhouses. Their genes, selected by desert farmers over many centuries, are truly to be respected and preserved–and the way to save them ultimately is not necessarily in a seed bank nor by engineering. To save them we must GROW them! Then enjoy positive reinforcement at the harvest.
These summer-active black-eyes, introduced by early missionaries and adopted by the Tohono O’odham, are well-adapted to hot weather and will provide a prolific feast in the fall. (U’us mu:n, pronounced “moo0nya”, means spotted or patched.) Some of their pods will reach a foot long. If you can “catch” them in the fat, mature and still green-pod-phase in your garden, you might get close to Nirvana eating fresh black-eyes–a treat very few have ever experienced.
Slow knowledge–a term coined by philosopher/farmer Wendell Berry–is what we can gain as we patiently watch the transformation of life in the garden. They say it even builds new neurological pathways. At the very least it can help young people learn what the word patience means!
Happy monsoon gardening! See you at the NativeSeeds/SEARCH Monsoon Plant Sale next weekend at the NSS Store. Or come visit our Flor de Mayo booth at Sunday’s St Phillips Farmers Market under the mesquites and sycamores, for gardening tips and a variety of beans to eat and plant.