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Merry Moon Garden

By WILL CONWAY

Mmmmm! A forkful of earth I lift in early May has a rich scent, teeming with micro-life and promise. Every tree seems to be swaying with fresh blooms.

The primal sense of smell is often a catalyst for an early memory. I have vivid recall of the creamy volatiles exuding from fat blossoms of Magnolia grandiflora on my grandmother’s mirrored lazy Susan. I compensate with smaller flowers, but magnificently fragrant cousins, like Royal Star magnolia with its raucous wheels of white petals. Our Galaxy magnolia shows upright deep rose against a blue sky. This is the month of maypole celebrations of renewed growth, our deep connection to trees and the presumed harvest of bounty. Sweet odors lead us back to the garden to rediscover it.

First-time vegetable growing will increase by 20 percent for American homeowners this year, predicts National Gardening Association researcher Bruce Butterfield. The recession’s revival of husbandry is a default adaptation to green mindfulness. Planetary and personal concerns have coincided to encourage gardeners to use their backyards for produce. In the garden, a body moves toward its own wellbeing and that of the soil that sustains plants. Gardening is regarded as a form of prayer, because of its ability to relax the mind and engage it with the living world.

The world climate is changing abruptly. The USDA has found that lilacs bloom two to four days earlier per decade than they did 40 years ago. Honeysuckle blooms four days sooner and white clover seven days.

“Historically, climate works to constrain the distribution of species,” notes ecologist Amy Seidl in Early Spring. “‚Ķspecies are moving on average three and a half miles per decade northward and 20 feet per decade upward in elevation.” Practical gardeners will adapt with patience, continuing to feed their soils from organic sources. These offer the best buffer to various environmental stresses. The second way to strengthen garden adaptability is to enhance diversity with plantings of hardier native and heirloom varieties.

This spring, I shared in a seed exchange, adding edible safflowers, a Canary Tongue and a Red Romaine lettuce. Also, less mowing allows native weeds to flower, feeding and attracting more local pollinators.

Now that first leaves have sprouted, a successive seeding can be planted. Cloches work overtime, protecting young plants from weather and birds. I’m thrilled and stunned to discover a few Yugoslavian Red lettuce crowns thriving after a winter under an A-frame of windows. Peas are coming up and will shortly climb onto string or twig supports. Thinning seedlings is as easy as selecting a handful for salad. Weeding is eased by conversation, or music.

We steamed some delicious wild garlic and nettle greens, which are prolific weeds here. A ring around the moon warns of coming rain, as do cows lying down, or leaves inverting. Continental landmasses rise two to three feet with the passage of the moon. During the last quarter, water tables drop, making it the best time for turning over the soil. Plant root crops from the full to the dark of the moon, and above ground crops from the new to the full moon.

News

April 30, 2009
Funding available for agricultural conservation
March 12, 2009
Food producers invited to enroll in Pure Catskills Guide

Columns

May 7, 2009
Back to the Garden by Will Conway: Merry moon garden
April 30, 2009
Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Owl pellets
April 23, 2009
Rivertalk by Scott Rando: Spring is here - and so are the eaglets
April 16, 2009
The Complete Tangler by Clem Fullerton: You sing trout, I sing sand bass
April 16, 2009
Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Swiping: unique bird behavior
April 9, 2009
The Complete Tangler by Clem Fullerton: Opening day and Delaware flows
April 9, 2009
Rivertalk by Scott Rando: Walking on the wild side
April 2, 2009
Rivertalk by Tina Spangler: On the lookout for Sharpies
April 2, 2009
Back to the Garden by Will Conway: Hare moon garden
March 26, 2009
Rivertalk by Scott Rando: Harbingers of spring
March 19, 2009
Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Beavers, burls and more
March 12, 2009
The Complete Tangler by Clem Fullerton: Reading, writing and tying
March 12, 2009
Rivertalk by Scott Rando: In like a lion, out like a lamb
March 5, 2009
Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Ice is (still) nice
March 5, 2009
Back to the Garden by Will Conway: Wind moon garden
 
News & columns provided by The River Reporter