The Scoop

Landship Foods is inspired by the conviction that growing and eating healthy food is one of the most important things we can do for both ourselves and the broader communities of which we are a part. The name comes from the language of pre-industrial Europe. Before the enclosure movement and the associated rise in notions of private property swept England, the suffix “-ship” (as in "relationship," or "friendship") referred to an object or an abstraction with collective duties and mutual rights. Thus, the term “landship” suggests that land was an entity through which humans were joined to each other by a set of rights and responsibilities. I advocate for a revival of this awareness.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Collard season or tomato time?

When I first showed up at basecamp, I was anxious to see how the beds fared over the winter; but I was even more interested to see the compost pile. It looked dark, felt fluffy, and smelled sweet; a homeopathic xanax for the young farmer's soul. We immediately got it spread and incorporated into the vegetable beds. Even in the desert, it helps us to retain moisture without getting soggy. A solid foundation for the plantings to come.

Even though things look good, I am never completely confident about the upcoming season's success. "Marginal" is the word that I think best describes conditions for life out here in the high desert. Most things grew well last year, though, so I work on faith and a little experience.

I have previously been tempted to define this time of year in the same way that a climatologist would. Temperamental, possibly "wet," and windy; all this suggests spring. But yesterday morning when I checked the thermometer at 6:30 it read 26 degrees. The mercury then rose 10 degrees every hour so that by noon it was a sizzling 80 in the sun. Even though there is no humidity, 80 can really fry because at 7,500 feet there is so little atmosphere to dampen the intensity of the sunshine. The early morning was ideal weather for cool season crops: carrots, lettuce, collards. By noon it was tomato time. To me, it was like cramming a whole year into one day: winter at night; a brief spring in the mid-morning; grinding summer all afternoon; and a glorious fall about dinner time.

Needless to say, this makes planting choices quite difficult. My conclusion is that one must hedge their bets here. Plant lots of varieties, in several different plots, at staggered times. Be prepared to lose some, but make sure to learn from your mistakes. Constantly tinker.

On that note, I should get back to work...

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