The Prelude to Summer in Black, Green, and Red.

When weary from the computer-driven, big-data world of my workweek, I seek refuge in the soft blackness of garden soil or the ripening sweetness of early crops. The technology-driven stress and pettiness of the modern world all subsides when I visit farms or care for plants.

Monica and I at Southern Belle Farms in McDonough, GA. May 3, 2015.

Monica and I at Southern Belle Farms in McDonough, GA. May 3, 2015.

Summer seemed to have started the first weekend of May, when Monica and I picked strawberries at Southern Belle Farms in McDonough, Georgia. Strawberry season is not quite the sultry days of summer, but the bright sun and enthusiastic families among the rows of plants made it better than a trip to any theme park.

The near-perfect berries of Southern Belle Farms, lovelier than rubies!

The near-perfect berries of Southern Belle Farms, lovelier than rubies! I’m not certain if they are organically-grown in the strictest sense.

Most weekends in early summer, rather than road-tripping to a farm, I tend the raised-bed gardens in back of our house. I maintain the soil in the raised beds with organic materials, combining homemade compost with purchased blood meal, bone meal, and garden lime.

One of two 4' by 8' raised-bed gardens in back of Monica's house.

One of two 4′ by 8′ raised-bed gardens in back of Monica’s house.

By the first weekend of June, the four healthiest, greenest tomato plants at the center of the box each bore over a dozen green tomatoes. Plants at the edge of the box were showing signs of water stress and/or nitrogen deficiency and required amendments of blood meal, bone meal, and mulch. As I’m not yet certain if the sickly tomato plants will last through the intensifying heat of the next month, I planted bell pepper plants to take their place beside them.

Planting a young bell pepper in open soil at the edge of the raised bed, June 7.

Planting a young bell pepper in open soil at the edge of the raised bed, June 7.

Hopefully, I’ll never lose opportunities to connect with the natural world through the crops I eat. Television and internet may conspire to impose the illusion that money, computers, and cars are our sustenance. Yet, neither these technological toys nor humankind itself would exist without the multitudes of plant companions and their humble, yet priceless soil. More thought and reverence should be given to the food-producing plants of our farms and gardens.

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