Green (sometimes) Thumb-Chapter Nine-Fall is Approaching

It’s always easier to look back than it is to look ahead.  I just had a quick peek at the bits I wrote about our garden earlier this year.  There were 3-4 blogs about gardening before we put a seed in the ground and now, here we are, technically it’s still summer but everybody knows what comes next.  Fall.  Although the season isn’t over and we have yet to sit down and conduct an objective “lessons learned” review of our community garden plot-here’s some initial observations (objective or not).

Gardening by the numbers:

  • 102-number of days between the day we started planning and today.  That’s days for germination to harvest to date (some plants were supposed to have been started weeks before we got seeds into the ground….sounds like I am rationalizing-and I am)
  • 2448-number of hours in the 102 days for rain, sun, wind, humidity and other forces of nature to embrace our bit of dirt
  • 1000-square feet in our plot
  • 2-number of friends who have dug, planted, bent over, cut, pruned, weeded, tenderly handled, hoed, covered, perspired, commiserated and enjoyed the past 102 days
  • 1,298-at a minimum-the number of potato beetles we sent to their just reward

Gardening by the adjectives

  • Beautiful-the few flowers that graced our land.  There were Shasta daisies earlier in the year and now sunflowers.  Those sunflowers ended up being robust plants-to the point that they provided too much shade in some areas. We know that now for next year and we will adjust.

  • Marginal (economists love the term)-the overall yield we harvested this year compared to our hopes.  If I remember correctly we had dreams of bountiful crops-lots for us, lots for friends.  Don’t get me wrong it’s not that we haven’t enjoyed produce along the way.  A recent article in the Globe and Mail “Cashing in on an Urban Garden” mirrors our experience to some degree-except her yield was bountiful.
  • Adequate-our yield-enough for several meals but not a winter’s keep-recently we dug up carrots, onions, potatoes and took home more swiss chard.  But fair to say compared to some neighbours our harvest was meagre.  There are more vegetables yet to be harvested -this gives you an idea of our “take”.

Gardening accident-what are the chances

  • After digging up the vegetables you see above I took the fork and shoved it into the ground and took off my gardening gloves.  There-we got that done!  I need a statistics expert to help me to put the accident in context.  Now there are 144,000 square inches in our 1,000 square foot plot.  There are 4 tines on the garden fork-each no longer than 1 inch wide.  Our garden hose is 3/4 of an inch wide.  What are the chances then, that when I plunged the fork into the straw and the ground that one tine would go straight through our garden hose!! Excellent…that’s what the chances were-excellent.  We are starting our list of purchases for next year-a garden hose is on the list.

Gardening  wisdom (learned this year so far)

  • Gardening takes time….lots of time.  Don’t take on a 1,000 square foot garden unless you will be able to dedicate time to keep on top of things.   
  • Next year holds great promise.  Next year we’ll start sooner.  Next year we’ll do this differently, next year we’ll do that instead of this.  Next year the weather will be different. Next year.
  • It is about the experience.  Time with a friend, time to chat (while hunched over a row picking weeds and bugs).  Meeting gardening neighbours and learning from their experience and their wisdom.  It’s the smell of the dirt, the joy of watching things grow and the discussion about why they aren’t (usually we pin the lack of success on the soil and the weather this year-not on the two of us who are tending the soil).  
  • And from our neighbour Kahlil who has tended the same plot for 30 years.  He is there day after day convening with nature and visiting with neighbours.  From him came perhaps the wisest of statements.  “Every year I put in $1,000 and I take out $500!”  

For those of you who have gardened, who garden now or know things about gardening, we welcome all advice and commiseration.  Are there great references or on-line forums we should be checking out?  We are all ears and we didn’t even try to grow corn.

Green Thumb-Chapter Eight-Gardening is a Team Sport

Lone Responsibility Albeit Temporarily

My gardening friend went away for three weeks.  I was on my own in the garden and found my relationship with the patch of dirt changed.  It was similar to the way a home feels different when those who usually live there with you are absent.  It’s just not the same.  I know now that for me gardening is a team sport.

I made my treks out to the garden.  There was weeding, watering and some produce to harvested.  I didn’t feel drawn there in the same way as when my partner in gardening was there.  But then I thought about the responsibility and how things would look if I didn’t put in some time in care and tending.  The weeds have never given up, never abated at any time in the season.  The place would look terrible upon her return and that would never do after the sweat equity we’ve put into the patch of clay.

August Trials and Tribulations

Our friends are very kind.  They ask ‘how is the garden’.  They seem truly interested when they ask.  Often, though, after a description of the ups and downs and the time spent, they talk about the ease and relatively low-cost of shopping at the local outdoor markets.  Yes, yes I think they have a point.  But we’ve had such a good time-watching the garden grow, replanting/coaxing those things that didn’t grow, and relishing the consumption of vegetables from our own garden.  Not exactly a bounty but we have served our vegetables at a few family dinners.

  • The Disappearing Squash Family: we have grown a number of members of the squash plant family such as pumpkin, butternut squash, zucchini and patty-pan squash.  Some of the plants grew well initially, some were outright attacked by some insects that kept eating at them and hindering their development.  Through covering them up and pampering them we got them going and things looked good-until about three weeks ago. (about the time my friend left).   The leaves started turning milky/white and then they would die off…wither away.  We think it is white powdery mildew.  Help!!  The squash family is disappearing before our eyes.  We have one pumpkin-it seems to have no mother plant any longer.  We have had three zucchini-three!  Aren’t those the things that people grow in great abundance?  The patty pan squash was our pride and joy-then half of one plant fell over-maybe it was too heavy and along came powdery mildew and the plant began to dissolve before my eyes.
  • Potato Bug Life Cycle: I figure that the multitude of potato bugs in our garden missed the lecture on life cycle.  That would be the lecture that tells them that after week upon week of trying to eat all the leaves off the plants and having hundreds of their kin squashed by the resident gardeners they should just give up and move to the next portion of their life cycle.  That would be the portion where they lie dormant in the soil for 100 years.
  • The Promise of Yield:  It occurred to me during one of my weeding sessions that perhaps after all the bug murder Mother Nature might have a trick up her sleeve.  What if, after all the care of the potato plants, there were no potatoes!  It’s possible.  Our soil is mostly clay, it is hard to hill, weeds are very difficult to pull…and maybe the bug assault has been just too much for them.  I started scratching around to find potatoes…thought I found one or two and they turned out to be a smooth clump of dirt down inside more dirt.  Don’t tell me!  I quit looking for a while.
  • Last week I thought, that’s it.  Before I spend more weeks of bug squashing, watering and weeding, possibly to no avail, I got out the garden fork.  And there they were-there is something about digging vegetables out of the garden, smelling the fresh dirt and paying some attention to just what it takes to produce food.  While digging around I turned up our one resident earth worm again.  

More Fun Than Vegetables

A dear friend who reads this blog said it looks like our garden is more fun than vegetables.  What do you think?  My spouse and I were in a grocery store yesterday and there was a special on vegetables grown locally.  For five dollars, you can purchase four 5 lb. bags of an assortment of vegetables-20lbs in total.  The assortment included carrots, beets, onion and turnips.  

And yet, I am quite sure we will do this again next year.  We have plans to improve the soil and try different crops and use raised beds and maybe we’ll get to sit a bit more and weed a bit less.  We have yet to see the end of this season.

I am very happy to have my partner in gardening back in town. Game on!


Green Thumb Chapter Seven-Some Things Never Change

When you are out in the garden, particularly when you are alone, your mind tends to wander.   I have always marvelled at how things are connected, whether it be people or events and how you can take what you observe in one area of life and compare and contrast it to another area or event in another part of life.  

People ask “how is your garden”.

Here we are in early August and well, we continue to work away.  We are starting to enjoy some bounty.  There is swiss chard and lettuce (things that the long-term wellprepared gardeners in some parts around here enjoyed 6 weeks ago).  The Sunburst or patty pan squash are prolific little guys and they need to be monitored every couple of days or they grow too big.  Aren’t they cute?

There’s a late breaking development with the pumpkin.  That’s the pumpkin that we thought would mature by Christmas.  It started off like gangbusters.  There were flowers and vines everywhere-it’s like the plant in the movie “Little Shop of Horrors”.  But then things started looking not so great-white powdery mildew has set in and the poor pumpkin doesn’t look long for this world.  There is one pumpkin that’s trying to grow.  I don’t know if it will have sustenance on the dwindling vines.  If the plant continues at this rate there could be a bare patch in that part of the garden in the near future and we will have an orphaned little pumpkin. 

Why did we buy those umbrellas and camp chairs?

When my gardening buddy and I started to set up our shop…late as it was this year…we looked around and saw that many gardeners seemed to ‘nest’ as well as garden.  There were little plastic picnic tables and umbrellas in some of the gardens.  Some gardens have those gazebos with netting.  Well, we thought, isn’t that great!  In addition to growing things we can sit here and watch the world go by.  We can have wonderful discussions while watching Mother Nature do her thing.  We each purchased a camp chair and one of those little beach umbrellas to sit underneath.  We have used the chairs once.  

The rest of the time it’s hoeing and digging and weeding and planting and watering.  And the weeds, there is one particularly some nasty type of grass.  I thought this morning as I dug and pulled and uprooted them that my cousin Steve in Australia might be wondering if there were earth tremors.  No Steve, no tremors, just your cousin pulling weeds here in Central Canada and their roots come up by your front door.

When does the part about sitting on your rear and admiring things start.  Actually I am exaggerating a bit.  We admire and tour the garden every time we go out there.  It’s the sort of thing other gardeners might understand.  If you haven’t gardened I imagine, it’s hard to see the beauty in it.   This is the current state of affairs.

And there are some lovely flowers

Some things never change

And so to the things that are linked in life and such.  I met another neighbour today. Gardeners are a friendly lot.  He was telling me since he’s isn’t able to weed as much as he’d like he hires people to weed for him.  It costs him $300 per year.  I suppose we can think about that as we weed away.  It might come in handy as a sideline business if the Standard and Poors rating of the USA sinks our investments.  I don’t think I’ll look at the newspaper tomorrow…but that’s another story.  Nonetheless, the garden at this point is about 9 parts weeding and watering and 1 part produce.  We’ve already paid for the seeds and fertilizer and peat moss and garden gloves and of course the chairs and the umbrellas.  

In the position I left as I moved to life beyond full-time work, I worked in the not for profit sector.  And here I am, just months later, working in another not for profit sector.

Green Thumb-ninety five bugs, no worms and two babies

How did we get to this point on “the farm”

We embarked upon this community gardening project about three months ago…well we fell into it actually, it wasn’t a planned-for-a-long-time thing.  It was more a crime of opportunity.  We saw the ad for community garden plots one day and the next day we signed up.  Then we waited and waited and waited for it to be dry enough to turn over the soil so we could plant.  When that finally happened we went to town and put seeds in the ground.  While it’s only mid-July, we are beginning to reflect on what’s grown, or not, and what we might do next year.  Why didn’t the lettuce come up?  Just what is eating the zucchini?  Did we really plant spinach-there’s no spinach?  Why did the Detroit Red beets come up but not the Golden Beets?  Next year we will do some things differently.  

Farming is always “next year” country

Growing up on a farm, there was the saying “next year country”.   You would hear :

  • It’s dry this year but next year with a little moisture we could get a good crop.  
  • The grasshoppers are bad this year but next year we’ll spray earlier and that should hold them at bay.  
  • The barley (or wheat or oats) didn’t do that well this year but it has been an unusual year and next year should bring us back to a good growing season.
Where do the bugs come from and where did the worms go
Potato bugs: We declared war on the potato bugs.  I went from the YEWWWWW of knocking them on the ground and then grinding them between two hard surfaces to squishing them left and right between my gloved thumbs and forefingers.  I became a two-handed squisher.  My gardening partner squished, she removed their eggs, she left no leaf unturned.  One day last week I squished 95 bugs in one visit!  Now suddenly (if you can say suddenly after you’ve killed hundreds and hundreds of them) their numbers are way down.  Is it too soon to declare victory?  
Earth worms: Earth worms are good for your garden.  When we were planting we found one earthworm.  And it seems he must have just been passing through.  We just didn’t see he had his suitcase with him as he made his way to some other garden plot.  And that’s all we’ve seen.  This is not good.   NEXT YEAR we will advertise in the 2012 earthworm travel guide:  Come and stay at our garden plot. Under new management as of 2011.   Stay rent free!  The dirt is freshly ‘amended’ (the fancy gardening word should attract a good worm base), there will be regular water and robins are banned from the premises.    
We are enjoying our time in the fresh air-bent over pulling at the robust crop of weeds. Why won’t spinach even dare to root in our soil while the grass and untold unwanted plants have roots that go half way to China.  Our garden doesn’ t look as good as many (this year) but we are marvelling at what wondrous things are happening.  Flowers on the potatoes, fennel showing up, cauliflower heads taking shape, cabbage….not tood good .well let’s just say NEXT YEAR we will start many plants indoors.
We thought we would go to the garden once a week but we find ourselves drawn there most mornings.  Once we rein in the weeds, maybe we won’t go there so often…but then how will be able to watch the progress?  And today….today we noticed two babies.  We cooed at them as you would an infant.  There they were in the bright sunshine two little sunburst squash!  Gosh, we may have something THIS YEAR!

Green thumb-Chapter Five-Now, really, who can’t grow lettuce!

Plants we want to nurture and grow in our garden: update

Our garden has been planted for all of three weeks now.  That means most things have reached or exceeded their expected germination time-as far as one can see on the seed packet.  That also means pretty much everything should be showing up above ground.  We’ve had some pretty hot and alternately pretty wet days along the way.  And so, with great anticipation we journeyed to the garden a couple of days ago.  And indeed many things are up…some well up.  Our potatoes are up and it is a true story-these really are our potatoes.We weeded around them and did some hilling.  I won’t tell you how long it’s been since I hilled potatoes but suffice to say many of you who might be glancing at this blog might not have been born when, as a teenager,  I dragged myself out to the potato patch on our family farm on the prairies.

You can take the girl from the farm but can you take the farm from the girl

When you live on a farm there are a number of things that you do that urbanites don’t need or have opportunity to do.  Like mucking out the stalls where cows and pigs and horses do their thing.  Or being part of the assembly line when chickens meet their Waterloo and end up ultimately on the Sunday dinner table.  Or perhaps killing mice with a baseball bat as they scampered around the granary. Shooting gophers and muskrats with a 22 calibre rifle.  And on and on.  It’s what you did.  

I am now, and have been for many years, far removed from the farming milieu.  So do you ever lose what ever it is you became accustomed to during those formative years?  Yes and no.  No, for on some level, the reasoning you learn living on and by the land serves you well all your life.  Yes you lose some things, for the life and death I observed with birds and animals, domestic and wild was just part of the life, I am struck by what a sissy pants I have become.  Case in point: those potatoes in the picture have potato bugs on them.  Hard shelled slow-moving creatures that you can easily squish and kill between your fingers.  And you know what?  I was somewhat grossed out by doing it-rather then just squashing the beggars, I was looking for two surfaces where I could pancake the bugs so I wouldn’t have to touch them.  Honestly, it pains me to even blog about it.  My mother and father, were they alive, would have something to say about this development I’m sure.  I plan to go at it with new resolve (and thicker garden gloves), the next time I am out there.  

Imitation-highest form of flattery

In the book Second Nature by Michael Pollan, he describes how some weeds imitate the crops they are being cosy with.  The example he gives is wild oats-the plant will take on different characteristics when it grows next to different crops.  Just this week I listened to a program that described how some insects imitate plants in order to prey on the plant itself.  For instance, the insect may give off certain fragrances to attract the plant and then eat its little heart out.  Honestly, that’s pretty crafty.  We now have an example of imitation in our garden-is it a desirable vegetable or an undesirable weed.  I’d estimate what you are looking at is 97% weed and 3% carrots.  The weeds are trying to look like carrots.

Now really, who can’t grow lettuce

While we surveyed the garden, with the little plants that are growing, we were happy with some things and perplexed by other things.   We squished bugs (yuck) and dug up weeds and hunted for what should have been rows of carrots and beets.  Where are they?  We congratulated those plants that were doing well and talked tough to those things that were faltering: “You can be replaced, you know!”.   We have one embarrassing reality to face.  Our lettuce didn’t come up.  Really, who can’t grow lettuce!  It must be the seed.  Or maybe in the marathon that was our late spring planting weekend, we never actually put the seed in the ground.  That sounds like a true story, doesn ‘t it?  Any advice on growing lettuce would be welcome.

Green Thumb-Chapter Four-Finally Some Action!

Gardening angst and roto-tillers that rule

Our spring has been so wet it’s not been possible to turn over the soil.  Roto-till people (you catch them as they drive by the plots or take their names from the little signs around the place) would tell you it’s too wet. When we contacted them, they said, “Wait, it’s too wet”.  Wait?  Wait?  We’ve waited we said.  Our little plants are getting stringy and tired of being confined to their tiny property in plastic containers.

My sense is if you own a roto-tiller at this time of year, you are the supreme ruler. Everyone wants you-you don’t make appointments-you say you may be by Wednesday or possibly Thursday or maybe next weekend.  Wait, they said, those roto-tiller owners-it’s too wet.  I suggested to my gardening buddy that we might want to buy a roto-tiller.  If we did that, it would make our potatoes worth $300 each, we figured.  She talked me out of it-no roto-tiller for us (at least this year).  I can see it though-a little garden tractor, my International Harvester hat, my smartphone where I can make appointments and keep them “in the cloud” and access them when out on the land.  Agriculture meets leading edge software.   We could have sirius satellite radio in the tractor cab along with a cappuccino maker.

Some of the gardeners have had their plots for several years-the soil has been tended, mulch and other good things have been added.   They have added more soil and they have lovely raised beds.  They don’t need no stinkin’ roto-tiller.  They stand out on the land and turn over their lovely soil without breaking a sweat.  Their land drains well; they planted before the long weekend.

Finally some action and gardening by the numbers!

Mother Nature provided a window for us starting in early June.  The rain held off, the wind blew very hard and finally the roto-tiller person was able to get to our plot.  It was still a bit wet but at this point…we were just happy to have it done.  Within 2 hours of the last tilling, we were out at the plot. And this was our gardening, by the numbers:

  • 29-the total number of person hours we put in planting the garden this past weekend.  Hours of digging and carrying and wheel barrow work, bending and kneeling and stooping and digging, watering and measuring and making rows and planting seeds and seedlings and digging…did I mention digging?  As for sore muscles, well, we took some comfort in the fact that some of our neighbours who are significantly younger were talking about how sore they were after the manual labour.

  • 28-the number of rows we planted.  All measured and marked, using our cute little Lee Valley Tools retractable tape measures.  Rows of carrots, onions, squash, swiss chard, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, fennel, pumpkin as well as, already started and now transplanted, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, sage and rosemary.
  • 110-the number of days it says our pumpkin seeds will take to grow and mature.  Plus we were supposed to start the seeds indoors three weeks before the last frost.  We did none of that.  We figure we may have a pumpkin if the growing season extends to December this year.
  • 1-day one-freshly planted hills of potatoes.  We did extensive research on how to plant potatoes and what to put with them to make them grow quickly.

  • 2-day two.  We came back to continue the planting of the garden and all of our research and effort paid off.  Look at the potatoes today! 
  • Allright-this might be the one time that Barb’s true stories aren’t true.
  • Priceless-the time spent in the garden with a friend.

Score: Mother Nature 10 or more, Man 1.5

There are many reports of disasters in the news these days-nationally and internationally-flash wildfires, tornadoes and floods.  People have lost their homes, been injured and there have been deaths.  Knowing these facts puts one’s little predicaments in perspective….let’s just call it straight.  A second assault of wee little ants is nothing, if not annoying.

Early this week score-Mother Nature 5, Man 1: The ants coming marching in two by two:  How in the world do ants find their way into a house?  We found another forward party this week-in another place.  Wee little gaffers-after vacuuming and moving things around I saw the tiniest little dark spot in a baseboard and they seemed to be going in and out there.  Outside I searched the foundation and there outside the house at close to the same spot was a little stream of ants going up and down the foundation and slipping under a little ripple of parging.  The parging looks no different from most of the rest along the foundation.  Out came the ant spray, the ant traps, the vacuum and not having a supply of parging material or any idea what it is or how to seal up the hole outside at that moment, I did what many home owners facing this challenge might consider.  As an interim fix, I taped duct tape in that spot.    Duct tape is wonderful.  One day I might swallow my pride and blog about a time when I thought duct tape and balloons might be a temporary fix for a plumbing problems at our cottage.  That initiative was not successful.  We’ll move to what I hope will be a permanent fix on these ants who want to visit, as soon as we figure out what that is.  Anyone got some advice?

P.S.  In one way, we really need to give ants credit.  There can’t be any room for brain in those little bodies but look at how they communicate.  And they do it so well and don’t seem to lose anything in translation.  The message comes through and the march is on.  Compare that our human capabilities-if you’ve ever been part of a teleconference or video conference when things don’t work and we can’t communicate or try to get a message communicated and see how often things don’t come through clearly, well you know what I mean.  Humans could take lessons.

Later this week- score: Mother Nature 10, Man 1.5 : How green is my garden:  We had our first working bee at the garden last weekend.  It remains wet.  Too wet to roto-till say most.  We went at it by hand, picking dandelions and a number of thistles, methinks, Canadian thistles and putting up a little roped off area where we want the (if we ever get dry enough) roto-tiller to stay away.  If you read the link about the Canadian thistle you wonder why Canada got saddled with the thistle-it came from Eurasia.  Why wasn’t it named the Eurasian thistle? Its roots apparently spread 10 feet in every direction each year.  I learned about the root spread from the book Second Nature by Michael Pollan.  My gardening partner has loaned me the book-perhaps to give me an appreciation for what we are up against.  Pollan consulted many field guides and botany books to find a suitable definition of weeds and one he cites is “a weed is an especially aggressive plant that competes successfully against cultivated plants”.  Right now we don’t have any cultivated plants to be competition for the weeds.  As we buy something else to use in the currently bare garden we talk about potential return on investment (outside of the social interaction, the fresh air, the coffee and treat breaks and so on).  We started out talking about the ten-dollar potato-how much each potato would ultimately cost us by the time we harvest it.  We are now up to a fifty-dollar potato-thinking we may only harvest 2-3 potatoes and we haven’t sowed a seed.

We’ve met some of our gardening neighbours including the woman who had our plot previously.  Gardeners are quite a friendly lot-they have advice on lots of things.  Sometimes all you need to do is ask.  It seems sometimes you don’t even need to ask.  They can tell you who they think does a good job of roto-tilling but is too expensive.  Or they don’t believe in roto-tilling, they turn their plot by hand.  Or it’s not too wet to seed. Or yes it is too wet.  We appreciate it all but would really appreciate Mother Nature giving us some sun and wind and a chance to get out on the land on our farm.

Gardening plot unplugged

It’s been a wet and cool spring.  Here it is the long weekend and our new-to-us community garden plot lies un-plowed and un-seeded.  It looks like someone took some care of the plot in the past-there’s a row of mystery flowers, a number of garlic plants, a row of sporadic strawberries and a few raspberry canes.

This is the worst the plot should look-ever

We have a whole bunch of these:

Could we pretend the tens upon tens of these are orchids?

Green Thumb -Chapter Two

Gardener’s weakness-gardening eyes bigger than gardening stomach

My community garden plot partner and I had to exercise some restraint.  She is much more the gardener than I am.  Particularly vegetable gardening.  The last big garden I worked in was on the farm in Saskatchewan a loooooonnngggg time ago.  My Mom would send us out, hoe in hand to hill the potatoes, pull the weeds, pick the peas and beans.  The memory is mostly of dry powdery soil and everyone hoping for rain….obviously the “dry years”.  Hours of weeding and hilling and picking and then eating fresh carrots and beans and new potatoes with dill and beets-it helped diminish the sense of servitude for having to do that work in the garden.  And here we are choosing to do this now and being anxious to get at it.

We started with a planning and coffee session.  We pulled out books and charts that tell you which vegetables make good neighbours and which don’t.  We talked about planting things that suit a garden at a distance from your home-not things that need daily attention.  We sketched out what would go where, how far apart they are supposed to be planted and then we sat back and added it up.  Based on our plans, we would fill 20 of the 50 feet in the garden!  Really?  That’s all?

Armed with this ‘information’ (and you will see later, it was not exact information), off we headed to the seed store.  We had to act as seed counsellors to each other….yes that’s on the list, let’s buy it…no, that isn’t on the list and remember we said we’d try our best to stick to our plan.  But it would be fun to try to grow it!  We were like two chocolate lovers who made a trip to Laura Secord or Bernard Callebaut’s stores and tried to keep to a pre-set list.  Red beets, yellow beets, ready in how many days?  Seed this one into the ground, start that one several weeks before the last frost (oh, oh-not this year).

It’s been very wet and mostly very cool and so there’s been no preparation of the ground.  We’re hoping that will happen this May long weekend-if Mother Nature agrees and we can lasso the local roto-tiller man.  Maybe that’s something I should do next year.  Buy a roto-tiller. I could be the local roto-tiller person.  I could figure out how to book things on-line and go techie (right?!).  It would be moderately strenuous but one could take breaks at the local coffee/bakeshop and generally watch the world go by.

Bringing the garden and its friends, indoors

Dear friends gave us some plants to put directly into the garden-broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and much more.  Lovely healthy plants.  With our cold weather I would put the plants out sporadically but bring them in when it looked close to frost.  Finally I left them out for a period of time and then one cold night decided to bring them in-maybe for the last time before they ultimately make their way to the garden plot.  The next day about noon a family member noticed a small army detail of tiny ants marching from the patio door into the kitchen.  I think they were carrying a little flag-a scouting detail no doubt.  Not just a few, not just 10 but likely 10 X 10.  Wee little guys-on the tile, on the carpet, under the carpet.  Fair to say the reaction was not one of “aren’t they cute!”  I went over to the tray of plants and the towel they were sitting on-and thought——–I wonder if the ants hitched a ride in on the plants.  It seems they did.  We must have an ant hill somewhere outside.  I can tell you they will be hunted down and found.  So the plants are outside for good and until they bring forth their bounty this summer.  They were unwitting accomplices.  The ants are gone from inside the house.

Where are we now?

Last night I had a much closer look at how much seed we have, just how much room it should be given to grow and what that leaves fallow.  The bottom line is there is no fallow-in fact-there’s perhaps not enough room for all we’d like to grow.  Gardening eyes big and bigger than gardening plot.  However, we haven’t even broken ground and as such, the story is far from told.

We would welcome any and all advice.  And if the garden is really bountiful, be careful for if we know your address we may be throwing zucchini into your backyard come fall.

Green thumb

At short notice I attended a seminar by a Master Gardener last night. It was titled “Planning Your Garden”. An unnamed member of my family said “What’s to know? Short plants in the front, tall plants in the back.”  Such support!

Hot on the heels of last night’s new-found knowledge I went out this morning and rented a 1000 sq. ft garden plot from the city.  Today was the day that people who didn’t rent last year could vie for a plot.  Little did I know you could find out ahead of time which plots were available and you could have gone and previewed them.  As I waited outside the office with other would be gardeners, they discussed which plots they were hoping for and how some were weed infested and some overgrown and neglected and I thought hmmmmm.  Nonetheless a very pleasant and seemingly knowledgeable women-in-line ahead of us gave a few us of some suggestions about which plots seemed desirable.  So i will garden with my friend…there may be considerable coffee drinking and laughing and perhaps not too much gardening.  Some fresh potatoes and dill from my garden, enough to complement a summer’s meal would be enough of a reward in itself.  Now which is taller -potatoes or dill?