Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Slight oversight

Er, hi. Sorry for the lapse in posting. A friend and I went to Savannah for the weekend (we had a great time--even spent some quality time on the beach on Tybee Island!), and I didn't manage to check in before I left.

Allow me to vent. I'm absolutely grinding my teeth over my new farmers' market project. Basically, my problem has to do with culture. When we northerners come down here and experience the massive freedom and potential of Georgia's growing season, we tend to respond by gardening year-round. We constantly succession-plant throughout the year for maximum output. That's how most of the organic market gardeners I met at the Georgia Organics conference do it, that's how I do it, and that's how I assumed everyone with a big garden did it. I mean, it makes sense.

Now I've come to find out that most gardeners in this area--even the ones who grow six or seven acres of vegetables--divide the year sharply into two big plantings. There's one in August for the winter greens, and there's one that occurs right about now for tomatoes and corn and okra and squash.

I was sheltered and knew only the Georgia Organics crowd. So not fully appreciating the local culture, I decided that April 11 would make a great opening day for the farmers' market. Now I find that all my new backyard gardening friends (the ones I'm trying to encourage to get in on the action) have pulled up their winter vegetables all at once (!) and have nothing but bare earth and flats of tiny seedlings. They won't have any more vegetables ready until July. Gaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.

Why on earth would people do that? When you plant everything simultaneously in this climate, it encourages bugs and diseases to wipe out your crops. And you get one big glob instead of a sustained flow. It makes absolutely no sense, but that's what everyone seems to do. Am I missing something?

I can't see how I could be. My garden is really productive at this time of year. I'm not trying to be a smartass or to act superior. The last thing I want to do is be That Yankee who thinks she has all the answers. (I actually have a lot fewer of them than I'm comfortable with!) But at the same time, I do think the results speak for themselves. It's what our few sustainable market gardeners--who are perhaps not coincidentally mostly from other parts of the country--do in order to ensure constant production.

So we will be opening with a very few vegetables, some live plants, some homemade soaps, some crafts. I hope the damn thing survives. It's a long time until July.

*slaps forehead*