Planting Perennials

I’ve been wanting to plant perennials for years. Ever since I realized that so many of the most delicious fruits and veggies–asparagus, rhubarb, tree fruit, figs, and berries–all require a 3-5 year lead time, I’ve been tapping my foot anxiously, waiting for the chance to put down roots (pun intended). Of course, the catch of perennials is that you can’t bring them with you. If we are going to plant trees, bushes, or other permanent crops, we didn’t want to leave them before they had even begun to bear. So I’ve been (relatively) patient. We moved from year to year and I contented myself with books on perennial culture: The Organic Apple Grower and the super exciting Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden (I’m still looking for that ideal spot for my future jujube tree).

When we moved in here on Rum Springs, we contracted with our landlords for an 18 month lease. We wanted to test the waters before making any long term plants. This spring, after a successful fall and winter, we spoke to our landlords about extending our lease. We now have a 12 year lease, albeit with provisions that allow us to break the contract with 12 months’ notice or our landlords with 2 years’ notice. It seems that we are finally in a place where we can plant perennials!

This summer, we took stock of our position, and we decided it was time to plant a different sort of perennial: the two-legged kind. As with tree fruit, we reasoned, if you never plant something (plant or child), you’ll never reap the benefits (be they apples or harvesting help). All of my research indicates that two-legged perennials require quite a bit of front-end work–frankly, they seem shockingly helpless at first. But we’re excited about our future here on the farm. We hope that this little perennial will be the first of many (though the majority, we hope, will be of the vegetative sort) and that in time our farm will grow to accommodate a great many new things.

There are ramifications of our new direction, of course. I, MK, will need to take a step back in the near term. I’ve been asking around over the past few years about how one can be both a full time mother and a full time farmer, and the response I’ve most often heard is that between mothering, farming, and remaining mentally stable, you must choose two. The first is a given, and for the second I chose sanity. So next year the face of our farm will shift–we’ll still raise livestock (and more of it), and we’ll still offer on-farm sales through the meat CSAs and individual purchases. But the summer veggie CSA will take a back seat while we work to sell meat and a very limited range of high tunnel veg through a yet-to-be-determined farmers market. Our winter CSA will remain as it has been, both this year and next.

So yes, big changes are afoot.  It might mean I have more time to write, or knit, or do any of those other hobbies I used to have before my life contracted to farm-farm-farm-eat-farm-sleep.   I have a sneaking suspicion that there may come a point when it becomes baby-baby-baby-eat-baby-sleep.  In the meantime, Andrew and I are finishing out the season, thinking about the next, and looking forward to a winter with lots of pickles and ice cream.

ps: in case you were slightly confused by my roundabout language: yes, I’m pregnant 🙂

12 responses to “Planting Perennials

  1. My excitement for both of you and all the extended families is incredible. Good luck and God bless!

  2. Oh, so wonderful! Your landlords are good friends of ours and I know they totally support you! Please let me know if we can help in any way. We are right down the mountain.

  3. Congratulations!!!

  4. Congratulations!!! Yay!!!

  5. Fantastic! You both are so blessed and also a blessing to others.

  6. This little sprout will be the joy of your lives, no doubt! Congratulations on the beginning of this marvelous adventure. God bless.

  7. Very exciting news. When is the “perennial” due?

  8. Elaine Christopher

    Mary Kathryn: Such wonderful news, you all will be wonderful parents!! We love how you blogged about it, so creative!! Blessings to you all. The Christophers from Atlanta

  9. Stephanie Pearce

    Mazel Tov!! 🙂

  10. I loved your latest post, Please be sure to keep me on your list even though I do not have a farm or even a garden, I love reading your reports.. Hugs to you both, Nini

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