We’re ready!

Sanguinaria canadense Multi-plex

It has been a busy weekend here at Fernwood! On Saturday, we offered our ‘Early Bloomers and Ephemerals’ class. After a talk and slide show, attendees were able to walk the gardens and view the many early woodland and shade plants gracing the gardens at the moment. So nice to share time with eager gardeners wanting to learn more about those garden gems that are first to bloom here in Maine. Great fun!
The hoop house finally got its new skin. After 5 years, the poly needs replacing and we were happy to have another set of hands to help pull the plastic over and secure it. Thanks, Charles!! It’s looking pretty snazzy…like a kid in their new summer kicks!
We continue to pot up plants for the season, the nursery is well stocked with rows of both new and old selections. Opening day here is Wednesday, May 3rd. Our hours are from 9-5. Regular hours through the season will be Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Visitors can always call or email us for directions and with questions.
It is always exciting (and busy) this time of year. We are putting as many hours into the day as we can fit…”making hay while the sunshines” as they say. Hope to see you this season!
Now, why not a poem…

April Woods: Morning

Birth of color
out of night and the ground.
Luminous the gatherings
of bloodroot
newly risen, green leaf
white flower
in the sun, the dark
grown absent.

by Wendell Berry

Oh, For The Love Of Soil

Over the last couple of days, I have been reseeding areas for the next crop succession. This means pulling some of the spent vegetation of earlier crops, like spinach and tatsoi, and replanting it. The very last of the dark green leaves of spinach are harvested, blanched, and tucked away into the deep freeze. Before the next food crop goes in, however, I amend and loosen the soil. Once again, my hands plunge into the dark silky soil. I work my way up the row, turning and sifting, adding a good measure of well-rotted compost and sheep manure. How many times have I heard myself say ” grow good soil, grow good soil”. As I pull that last bunch of tatsoi, I thank our fine rich garden soil, for I know, it has provided the food for our food. It is the basis for all of what we do here. It should be praised accordingly. And don’t I just love the feel of soil…should I even dare mar this perfect canvas of earth? Does it really need a seed or small seedling to make it more beautiful…no, I don’t think so. I know that down below every display of greenery, the soil is there quietly doing its thing. It’s wonderous and amazing life giving thing…oh, for the love of soil!

And to further praise the endearing qualities of soil, here is a poem written by Wendell Berry…

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”


Picture 998Yesterday I was planting another succession of lettuce and greens in the vegetable garden. We do this throughout the season to ensure an ongoing crop. There I was squatting down in the dirt, after having made another long furrow, and ready to carefully set each tiny seed in its place. Have you ever considered how tiny one lettuce seed is? How about carrot seeds? They’re so tiny they can be annoying. We all know that thinning carrots is a result of how tiny those seeds are, and how difficult it can be to space them far enough apart. Yes, I know you can buy the pelleted form, but I never do. Back to my lettuce planting. I looked carefully at one of the small oblong ‘Bronze Arrowhead Oakleaf’ seeds I was about to put into the ground. Wow! This one tiny seed is going to grow into one harvestable, edible , lettuce plant. This will feed us. This one plant will make a salad for someone. This one tiny seed will be covered with a bit of nutrient rich soil, patted down, watered, and will eventually crack open, sprout, and begin growing into food!!!!! I just want you all to know, I have been growing vegetables for over thirty years now (not counting my childhood farm and gardening years), and I am still in awe of a seed’s amazing and miraculous ability to germinate and grow into a plant. I love this feeling ( even after all these years) of being stunned, of being in awe, of being surprised, and also humbled, by this natural world. I love that after all of these years, as an adult woman with many, many, seasons of lettuce planting under her belt, that I can still be brought to my knees by the potential of a single seed. The power of seeds, truly amazing! Farming, being a grower of plants, may not bring you monetary richness, but it sure does offer up gratitude on a daily basis!

The Man Born to Farming

The Grower of Trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
That the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
Like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
Descending in the dark?
-Wendell Berry