Monday, May 23, 2011

What A Beautiful Day For Some "Mistakes"

"I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward"
- Thomas A Edison


As the soil continues to warm and the spring rains pour down, each clear day on the farm shines with an incredible wild, colorful beauty unlike anything I've experienced in the city.  This drastic change in climate propels the growth of a lush, green, unkempt pasture whose call to lie down is rivaled only by the extreme comfort of your bed in the morning when you have to get up way before you are ready.  What a beautiful day for some...

"mistakes."  Mistakes, not in the traditional negative connotation, but in the "oh shit, I've never done this before, I must be doing it wrong, but there's only one way to find out" type of mistakes.  Either way, my fellow farm apprentices Rachel, Ryan and I got right to work on Saturday morning.  Rachel, a terrace apprentice was given with the task of planting Dahlia's, a gorgeous tuberous root flower whose storage root most closely resembles a sweet potato.  As a perennial, the tuberous root (shown below) stores nutrients through the cold months until revitalizing the following summer.

Storage root - Dahlia

Dahlia's storage root prefers to be planted in trenches over lose soil.  The more give in the soil, the easier the journey for the root straight down into the ground as it matures and grabs hold of the earth.

Prior to digging out these trenches, Rachel and Ryan, a field apprentice who came down to help as well, sprinkled a few quarts of kelp and sulfur over the raw earth to provide nutrients that will aid in the Dahlia's growth and strength.

Using teamwork and a couple of rakes, we loosened the soil in each of the trenches while blending in the kelp and sulfur.  

In these dark chocolate like trenches, we transplanted about 5 different Dahlia varieties including such gems as Karma Corona, Tequila Sunrise, Powder Puff and yes my favorite and yours, named after the man who after mistake after mistake perfected the first lightbulb and motion picture viewer...

Thomas Edison, or Tom E as his friends liked to call him.

For a few weeks, the tuber roots were kept in pete moss, which holds enough moisture for the plant to sprout, but not enough nutrients for long term growth.  Once the shoots began to form it was time to transplant these babies to their new home on the terrace.

Spacing each Dahlia about two feet apart, we transplanted each tuber root horizontally in the trenches with the shoot sticking out of the soil, straight up towards the sun.  Now as far as I understood, neither of these two ladies had ever worked with Dahlias before and I couldn't even spell it properly for 3 quarters of this post, so clearly there was some big question marks over our work.  Were we doing it properly?  Were these going to survive?  Without the Captain there with us, it seemed uncertain at this point.

This reminded me of the time I tried to seed my first mache bed a few weeks ago.  The entire time, I had no idea if I was doing it right and although a simple concept, it's the minor details of angle and flow that determine how successful a seeding will be.  Turns out, as you can see below, my first attempt was a bit of a failure, with barely half of the seeds sprouting.  Nevertheless, by studying what went wrong, what was missing and getting feedback and what to try next time a lot of knowledge and understanding was gained.

Most success stories begin with mistakes.  Thomas Edison was known to have failed thousands of times and yet is still named after a flower (oh yea and all those other incredible inventions he is remembered for).  It's definitely tough to accept uncertainty, but with logical reasoning, trust and a willingness to accept responsibility, mistakes must be made in order to learn.  Let's just hope these Dahlia's hold up better than the mache.  If all goes well, I will be reporting back with some ridiculously cool pictures.  The shapes and colors of these flowers are outrageous.  For those who can't wait, take a look here.

A view from the terrace


Post a Comment