Urban Farming: On the Threshold....

winter garden

This one of my favorite quotes about a garden:

A garden in the winter, especially in places like D.C. where it snows, is quiet. It's gentle. It looks like it's at rest, as if nothing is happening.

But the roots are down there. Life underneath the soil is down there. The worms, centipedes and mico-life are hard at work keeping our soil alive and ready for the next planting. The winter makes me appreciate the subtleties of the garden.

I appreciate:

  • Watching a lone bird eat from one of our feeders.
  • Seeing ice on our little ceramic bowl that's out as a water source for birds and bees in the summer.
  • Dead lettuce still in the soil. The leaves may be dead but the roots underneath the soil are still providing structure--letting air and microbes find space to move and do their work.
  • How the light of winter creates shadows with the architecture of anything, but especially the trees.
  • Our fig trees covered with a blanket and wrapped tight to keep it from freezing. One of our members did this--took the time to wrap a tree to keep it alive.

A garden in the winter is a tender place with a neutral color palate that makes you want to keep on walking by, maybe claim "that looks kind of boring."

In some ways, a winter garden is kind of boring. It isn't a place of over-stimulation like a summer garden literally buzzing with life above the soil. In the summer the beauty is more apparent---lush greens, red tomatoes, and beautiful native plants fill the garden with color.

In the winter, a garden is a place you wait, your quiet, and your trusting that the soil is doing the work that needs to be done for what is to come next. It's a place where I can be bored and still and slow it way down.


Second hoop bed with mizuna and kale. Front bed with radishes and garlic.
Second hoop bed with mizuna and kale. Front bed with radishes and garlic.

We are on the threshold of spring and Pilgrims garden is covered with snow after our 5 inches on Monday. Sunday after church 5-6 Pilgrims (two of those being new-to-us folks! Woot!) planted seeds for a spring harvest: spinach, kale, arugula, and radish.

We planted garlic in November and it's still at work underneath the soil to be ready in July for a harvest. Folks were turning our winter soil. Dropping down seeds while calling out one of my favorite comments, "I don't really know what I'm doing and I'm doing it anyway!" I checked on the bees--all three hives are dead. Crap. That sucks.

Front bed with spinach, first hoop bed with arugula.
Front bed with spinach, first hoop bed with arugula.

By the end of the farming time, this is what folks had created:

We created community--humans, soil, wood, seeds, and bugs.