When I look back in my photos to May and see that the vegetable garden was still mostly bare—small plants and rows where we had planted seeds—now feels unlikely or miraculous. We have had probably ten kilos of beans this summer, two pumpkins (one truly enormous, one just normally large), three butternut squash, two charentais melons (four more on the vine), literal hundreds of zucchini and tomatillos (the latter all processed into green salsa), peas, herbs (dill, rosemary, oregano, mint, chamomile, calendula, lavender all dried for later use), pickling cucumbers, jalapeños, carrots, raspberries, plums (about 3 kg), now the first apples are coming from the trees, and sweetcorn. I have made almost a liter of raspberry jam. There are things I strongly dislike about living in Belgium (and someday soon I will write about them, but not today) but I love this garden and I love having people to stay in and use the things from it.
- Gardening makes me feel extremely capable and happy.
- I only realized today I could really do this anywhere; it’s not some magical function of living on this particular piece of land. That felt very liberating and exciting.
- I love that there is almost everything I need to make a really good garden, right here: willow trees, hedges whose trimmings become paths, grass which grows long to become hay to feed the ponies whose manure feeds the garden.
- Chickens are necessary but do I want more beings to be responsible for?
- The sheep are kind of molting (they apparently don’t have to be shorn) and look pathetic.
- The apple trees and plum tree are full of fruit.
- I have harvested more than 60—maybe close to 80—zucchini.
- And about 6 kilograms of green beans. Good thing I like green beans.
- First tomatoes (‘Sweety’ and ‘Mattina’) this week.
- We gave some friends a box of produce and I remembered that one of the very best things about gardening is being able to offer people food.
- I’ve been thinking a lot about Flanders and sharing, and Minnesota and sharing.
- Today I pickled 500 grams of green tomatoes (from plants we had to remove due to plague) and some cucumbers. Our cucumbers aren’t great for eating but make good pickles.
- The peas are almost done; hope I planted the next round soon enough.
- This year we will actually get eggplants, jalapeños, and peppers. Credit to planting early enough.
- Waiting to be processed: lots of tomatillos. More on the plants.
- Our melon plant is exuberant but non-productive. Oops on the trimming back.
- But pumpkins, butternut squash both producing.
- Began a long embroidery project earlier this month, very relaxing.
- All I want to do is have people here to do their work so we can all realize how possible it is to make a life that is centered on art: and to grow food for them, cook for them, talk with and listen to them. And to make my own work too.
It is about four hours from here including the train under the Channel. We went in December and went back on April 30 with a pair of Jonathan’s classmates.
This return reminded me how much I enjoy learning things, studying things, and in particular how pleasing looking at and thinking about plants is for me. And how that has fed my other interests—making me want to make clothes, write, make music, make spaces, etc.
When we were here in December there were rosehips and other berries in the vases. I took home an information sheet with the names of all the bulbs (planted in containers) blooming that week.
I loved this primrose.
And of course the fritillaries. A long time ago I made friends with someone by accident and she taught me many things about plants. She loved these flowers and now I do too, and when I see them I think of her. Even though our friendship ended and ended imperfectly, I am grateful for the ways she enlivened me to art and plants.