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January 27th, 2011

how to see a zucchini

2010 found me shooting more photos for Organic Gardening. In the Feb/March 2011 issue, you’ll find a photo that I consider to be a personal victory.  Meet the ‘Cavili’ zucchini.

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Most of the test garden photos come very easily for me. I try to get to the garden at 6:30 or 7 once a week when the sun is low and both the plants and I are fresh and un-wilty. It’s quiet there, and (after I chatter with Brad, Josh, and Lisa) I’m quiet, too, and settle in to find my angles and frames. Kneeling in the dirt, away from in box and voice mail and office distractions, taking photos is a meditation. Moving the camera even half an inch can completely change the composition for me, and I can get lost in seeing the same thing in so many different ways.

Sometimes I get stuck.

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The zucchini and I were at a standoff for 3 straight days. Some would say this is because in the past, zucchini (and all squash) have rated very low on my “likeable foods” scale. I would like those people to know that thanks to the delicata and other gateway winter squashes, I’m getting over my low opinion of this vegetable. For whatever reason, I just had trouble seeing this plant. I walked around the plant and looked at it from all sides.

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When that didn’t work, I looked to the beans and took a break to hang out with my farm-friendly Domino Cat.
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I returned to the garden on different mornings, in different moods, and I tried. I looked at dark green zucchini varieties and pale green zucchini varieties and baby zucchinis and full-grown zucchinis and bees in blossoms.

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Domino’s expression says it all. Clearly, I was making this harder than it needed to be.

By the third day, this was seriously turning into a case of, “Kid, shoot your vegetables.” It was 7 a.m. and no one was in the office. The sun was getting higher. When I went to my car to get screens and a giant umbrella, I found a brown paper bag. I decided to play.

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After a couple of shots of “too plain, too crowded, needs something more,” I finally got the shot that was just right. Feeling victorious, I zoomed back here to the office, excited to show Gavin and Ethne my work. The zucchini didn’t beat me. And I have to confess, it tasted pretty good in a curry.

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January 12th, 2011

Snow Day at the Office

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January 10th, 2011

Out on the Web: the Layered Approach

The Layered Approach

Our no-dig Organic Gardening slide show is live on The Huffington Post.

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January 6th, 2011

Grouchy Photo Person Escapes to Farm

Yesterday I got a little (okay, A LOT) grouchy from sitting at my computer and at my desk—just ask Gavin and Nancy.  This morning on the way to work I made a side trip to the Rodale farm for some fresh air. The same old cold chilly January greeted me when I got out of the car, but I grudgingly admit the frost looked very pretty on the lawn.

The dirt/potting mix/growing/life/soil smell inside the greenhouse brought me, well, back to earth. I took off my wool coat and scarf and wandered a slow loop. Ah, moist air and sunlight!

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This place will be jam packed in a couple of months, but right now the flats are full of lettuce, microgreens, chard, and coleus cuttings–a mix of purple and green.

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This mini field trip got me thinking about other winter escapes I could make—the Fernery at Morris Arboretum, a trip to Longwood Gardens—but this morning’s detour on the way to work was a good break. Even the outdoors looked more sunny and cheerful when I left to head to the office.

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