Friday, March 19, 2010

Green Dreams

Our early burst of spring weather has gone a long way to lift spirits around here. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and little green things are poking up through the soil. For a gardener, this time is sacred. For me, this time is a much needed tonic.

Last fall, before we gathered the leaves for mulch, I planted a few bulbs. Daffodils, grape hyacinths, tulips, gladiolas... and a few more that have escaped my memory. I am awaiting the results with a mixture of reserved anticipation and wiggly-puppy delight.

My seedlings are behind schedule already; Tuesday I finally sent in my Veseys order. I laid out the vegetable garden on paper a few months back, but with everything that has happened since then I've been unable to work on it until now. This year I'm planning more variety, a more complex layout, higher yields and some special attention to the beautiful details.

2009 was my first year out in the homeowner/gardener category. I tried to grow quite a few different things; some worked, some did not. Some vegetables, such as corn and squash, I planted just so I could say "I grew that". This year's plan is a bit different...

The tomatoes (both beefsteak and cherry/grape) were a big success. I plan to continue that this year, expanding the tomato crop to include both vine and roma tomatoes. With one plant per square foot, this summer's layout will be two beefsteak plants, two vine tomato plants and three roma for sauce/canning. I'm also going to try my hanging baskets again, this time with vine tomatoes that will (hopefully) be less weighty than the beefsteak and allow the plants to develop better. I also read the instructions (harrumph!) this time around and will use the proper soil mix for the hangers. From Veseys, I chose Roma VF and Sweet Cluster to add to my tomatofest. I will also be growing leftover Tiny Tim and Ildi Cherry and Grape tomatoes in planters. Those were fantastic.

Other leftovers that will reappear this year include Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce (3 squares), Fat n' Sassy Peppers (4 squares), Sweetness III carrots (5 squares), Parade onions (2 end pieces and interspersed amongst the larger plants) and Salad Bush Cucumbers (2 squares). All did pretty well for such an awful growing season. I want to try them again in a hot dry summer... which I am convinced this year will be. I've added Stonewall cucumbers (3 squares) which I plan to use in salads and for homemade relish (yum!).

The next purchase was completely on a whim. Red Zepplin onions. Seriously? How could I not?? Those 2 squares will be strategically placed amongst the more tastier greens to keep the bunnies over the hills and far away.

My layout is a bit different this year as well. Since the physical garden is slightly larger than two feet wide, instead of making over sized squares and leaving a lot of (potentially) wasted space, I will instead ring the outside of the 12"x12" squares with a strip a few inches wide. In this space I will plant my aromatic herbs; not only a welcome addition to my kitchen but they will also aid in animal control. On the list this year are cilantro, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme and dill.

The rest of the yard will also benefit from my recent splurge. To delight the eye, I've indulged in my weakness for dahlias. For the various pots that I plan to strew about the place, I've chosen Karma "Prospero" and a very unique variety named Edge of Joy. They are both very striking.

Karma "Prospero"

Edge of Joy

I've also ordered some calla lilies. Two varieties, both lovely in their own way. Crystal Blush is a classic white calla with a kiss of pink, while Majestic Red is a rich burgundy which will add a lovely splash of colour for the years to come.

To finish the order (ostensibly to get my $25 discount, but also to add some colour to my front garden) I purchased some Begonias. Lovely, ruffly, shade loving and (supposedly!) dirt-simple to grow begonias. Of course, I chose red from the Non-Stop variety.

Non-Stop Begonias

I won't forget some old friends either... Once the bulbs have bloomed and I am working the soil, you'll find me flitting about the yard sprinkling lobelia, nicotiana, mirabilis, sunflower and morning glory seeds into any bare spots. Sometimes the best results are totally unplanned.

We will see what happens this summer, but it will prove an interesting journey. With a little bit of luck and some half decent weather, it should create the oasis of calm that it is intended to be, while providing some much needed nourishment for the soul.

"Garden writing is often very tame, a real waste when you think how opinionated, inquisitive, irreverent and lascivious gardeners themselves tend to be. Nobody talks much about the muscular limbs, dark, swollen buds, strip-tease trees and unholy beauty that have made us all slaves of the Goddess Flora." ~Ketzel Levine's

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Once again, I find myself overcoming a long stretch between blogs. It's now March and I've been staring at my Christmas cookies on both Blogger and Facebook for far too long now. (They were delicious, btw).

It's not from lack of trying... I simply have not been able to put my thoughts in order for some time now. The usual winter fatigue, in itself, has not been solely to blame for this; how can it after a winter as mild as the one we have just experienced? There have been a lot of little things and a lot of big things as of late. I guess it's just taken me this long to process them all.

Work, well, is just that. Work. It challenges me daily and can lift me to the stars and throw me back down to earth within minutes. I honestly can say that I am in the right place. It is tiring and I've been trying to take some time off for a while now. That in itself is a bit tricky as it is such a small place to begin with, there just isn't oodles of staff to choose from. The politics and the workings of the corporate machine I can also do without... but we'll put that on a Post-it and come back to it later.

I guess the biggest thing to come my way lately (if not ever) is my Dad's illness. For those of you that don't know already, he was diagnosed with lymphoma recently. Diffuse Large B cell, for those of you keeping score. He has already been through two surgeries and a barrage of tests in the last month and a half; he starts chemo next week. We still do not have an idea of what stage he is at, so we do not have a prognosis, a timeline, etc. It's been so very frustrating for all of us. This nasty disease has managed to permeate every aspect of our life. Every waking hour, even when I'm not thinking about it, I'm thinking about it. I've gone through the grieving spectrum at least twice now and am currently flipping back and forth between acceptance and anger. It has thinned my skin, yet still brought me closer to my parents. We'll write "lymphoma" on several lime green Post its. Maybe draw a little ribbon...

The problem really with all of this is the amount of mental post-its that I've been accumulating lately. I'm at that point again where I feel like they are stuck all over me, flapping in the breeze as I walk. A few come off on the sheets at night and get found, all folded up and dirty, on the bottom of my foot later on. Mental clutter. With the mental clutter comes the physical symptoms, the IBS, the aches and pains, the PVC's, the headaches...

This past weekend, I turtled. I chose not to go visit my parents and instead stayed home and did a few things around the house. I organized my pantry. I cleaned the kitchen and living room and sorted out all the toys. I fixed loose cupboard doors. I also drank a lot of wine and Jack Daniels while listening to good music. That managed to rinse off a lot of the residue.

So, dear readers, if I haven't been rabbiting on about the various things in my life, this is why. I talk when I need to those in my immediate circles. I haven't been inspired to write, photograph, create, do a craft or anything like that in some time. My gardening is also behind schedule, but I have some grandiose plans that will come to fruition.

I am very thankful for many things and for the wonderful people I have in my life. Please be patient...