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My lettuce seedlings accuse me. I skitter past the trays under the grow light where limp green straggles out over the  edges of a plastic pot, overcrowded and desperate for soil and sun. Or more water, to be honest. More water would do it.

“Soon,” I think to them. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

I love this crazy slightly manic time of year, with more and more sunlit hours per day, and the incredible energy of the sun feeding gardener and plants alike. I didn’t know until recently that I (like so many modern folks) am “low for vitamin D.” Maybe this is why my gardening hours leave me energized, even if my back hurts from overdoing.  My back recovers easily over night, ready for more the next day. (Shout out to Edward here, since my spinal health is largely due to my kind husband, who gives a great deep tissue massage even as he is falling asleep.)  I am sorry not to keep up with my writing up as I do in the colder seasons. But being outside is tonic for the soul, mind, and body. My chiropractor sees more of me the more hours I spend at a desk. Lack of varied activity seems far more injurious than the strain from pushing wheelbarrows, hammering stakes, yanking weeds, or hoisting clumps of heavy Maryland soil.

My lettuce seedlings may not look too great but the lettuce and kale garden is going gangbusters! These were plants I couldn’t resist buying way back in March. The bugs and snails haven’t found them in this new location. Yet. The chickens have been resentful but prevented. And the evil bunny rabbits can’t get in either. My kale leaves are yet un-chewed. Very satisfying. Two salads so far from these luscious leaves.

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This success has made me bold. I put the  broccoli sprouts out in the back kitchen garden, surrounded by an army of marigolds. However, now that I think about it, last season that bed of baby broccolis had kale in it… kale that was completely skeletonized by unknown forces. Marauding hordes of slugs, snails, chickens??? We never got a bite.  Broccoli is kale’s cousin – so these poor broccolis are far less likely to thrive. The attackers will be back for more. Damn. EVERYTHING – except humans – LOVES TO EAT KALE AND BROCCOLI.  AND CABBAGE. Maybe I can pull them out today, and stick them in the middle of the garlic bed, where the chickens got in and pillaged and made a space….

I am trying to learn more about grouping my plants, companion planting they call it, the way nature does it. I will have to check that kale and garlic are friends.  (They are.) Fascinating that some plant species like each other, and grow better in each other’s company.  And that other plants actually inhibit each other’s growth. Just like people — didn’t I hear somewhere that plants and humans share more DNA than they don’t?

But the really big news from the Simons Gardens is the new chicks under our broody golden Maran. Yesterday I went with daughter Freya and picked out five one day old chicks at Gambrills Feed Store, three of a new breed, blue hens from the Czech Republic. The little gals are a beautiful blue gray fuzz for now. They are supposed to lay lots of blue eggs. And then two good old Buff Orpingtons. I am a sucker for Buff Orpingtons, sweet tempered, good layers, and excellent mamas.

I wish I had captured a photo of the five chicks last night, but now you will have to wait, since once those chicks go under mama (stealthily traded for the eggs she sits on, in the dark of night), that hen keeps them close to her until they are all bonded and she feels all is well. Chicks have to kept 95 degrees warm. My other adoptive mothers have known just how to manage letting the chicks go, calling them back to get warm, teaching them to forage for bugs – so I am hoping for another success. Photos soon!

For now, it’s time to dig! Out into the gardens this beautiful cool morning, to set some lettuces free.

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Kale, artichoke, cabbage and arugula seedlings – yearning to breathe free