Saturday, December 31, 2011

December may seem like an unlikely time for a garden post, especially considering I failed to post once on my blog all summer. Unfortunately this wasn’t a summer of much gardening for us. Unlike the rest of the U.S., for those in the Pac NW, spring and much of summer brought rain, low chilly temperatures, rain and more rain.

I wish I could say it was the rain that dampened our gardening spirits, but it wasn’t. My fun and casual plans for gardening with the kids this summer never sprouted. Neglected our garden became, lost, forgotten in the midst of our tragedy. My mom’s sudden diagnosis and horrible death from lung cancer changed the shape of our landscape more than any amount of rain ever could.

Full of things that didn’t belong, our garden was definitely one of surprise this summer, not many of which I can say were welcome. Trimmed lavender bushes without a second bloom, droopy, short broken sunflowers, blueberry bushes stunted in their growth, seeds from a package marked lacinato kale grew dark purple beets instead. Only one broccoli plant bloomed from seeds I haphazardly tossed in the waiting composted soil, and that one eventually became the Ohlin Hostel for Travelling Cabbage Worms – their green blending in perfectly with the lose florets. Peas that grew too small or too big, lots of lettuce – big surprise – onions that hardly grew at all, garlic gone crazy, zucchini covered in aphids and arugula grown and bolted in less than three weeks.

Too much water. And then, not enough.

Strange happenings, odd growth, longing, death and regret. If only I’d planted more kale, why didn’t I build the greenhouse last year? If only I hadn’t been so picky? I would have planted more thank-yous to my mom, more hugs and laughter and appreciation.

Unfortunately I can't change the past, and although I'm still in the fog that settled in upon us this summer, I hope that 2012 will be a better year for all of us. I hope that the desire to garden with Lily and Jasper will return as well as my joy in writing about our garden escapades. I hope you all have a wonderful, healthy new year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Signs of Spring

A COLD, WET, spring has left us and the plants confused, like we're ready to come out of hibernation, but the weather doesn't want us to yet. Many things appear delayed in the garden this year, but others are moving right along - growing and thriving - despite the damp chill and despite all my complaining about there not being enough sunshine and warmth.

Broccoli starts in the rain

Allium blooming

Allium almost blooming

Strawberry blooms going crazy

Jasper blooming

Lily Blooming

Still, a little sunshine would be nice.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Playing with Worms

Lily loves the worms, the worms and the water. Not much has changed from last year in that respect. It seems she will play for eons as long as dirt, worms, and water are involved. The poor worms. She's been making "homes" for them. Which is to say, she takes one of the little expanded peat pellets, finds some worms, (and we have tons) and squishes them into the pellet. She then mashes more good dirt in on top of them and says, "Okay here's your home, wormies." Sometimes we are actually in the garden working or playing side by side in precious quiet for a few moments that I don't quite realize what she's done until after she's done it. Like I said, poor worms. Although she did make hot chocolate for them out of dirt and water, and I can bet these are the first worms in the history of the world that have ever had such a delicious treat as Lily's compost hot chocolate, and all in the comfort of their new home!

Not much actual gardening going on around here as it’s been raining FOREVER. We planted some of our pea starts out, as well as some lettuce, and kale starts and I think I actually shocked them all to death. Yup, once again I started too early, because I am missing an important gene called PATIENCE. Usually Mother Nature looks out for me and somehow my starts make it, but this year, not so much.

The Peas might decide to survive although right now they’re looking pretty pissed off at me, but the lettuce and kale starts, all dead. It is weird and unsettling to see once beautiful, little, bright green seedlings that you and your child nurtured, flopped over, dried up and shriveled. Not fun. Doesn't make for good photography either. Good thing I have more seeds! And good thing the co-op has gorgeous looking starts. So for now we’ll play with the worms and try, try, try to be gentler with our next batch of starts.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Starting Seeds with Lily 2011

Lily and I started our seeds together last week. We have been looking at seed catalogues, garden books, and talking about our garden for weeks now. I bought the Jiffy seed kit with little peat pellets, and later we will start more seeds with some bigger containers and seed starting mix.

I find the little pellets that come with the Jiffy kit, and ones like it, are great for little kids, and they work really well for big seeds. I prefer the seed starting mix for smaller seeds, like those of kale and onion; it’s more efficient, if you will, for tiny seeds. But things like efficiency and practicality don’t necessarily play a roll in my garden at the moment, not with 2 kids and a dog. Fun plays a roll, though and that's really what this is all about for us right now, playing with seeds, dirt, and water, and spending time together. We hope to make some things grow, learn how to take care of our plants, and enjoy our delicious harvest with friends and family. But truly, for me, I hope to make it fun for Lily, (and Jasper too,) and take advantage of each awesome moment of WOW! they experience in the garden.

And Lily sure had fun starting seeds. True to form, her favorite part is the watering. She'll water anything in sight, including the seed pellets, the table, and herself. We got ourselves all set up at the dining room table. We put our seed tray over some newspaper and watered the pellets with warm water so they would grow. Then we planted the seeds and labeled each row. We have a really sunny south-facing window to put our seeds in, and we've been checking them every day. (Right now, I think I'm more excited by that than Lily.)

We started broccoli, two kinds of kale, two kinds of onions, lettuce, spinach and old nasturtium seeds because Lily loves those seeds. They seem to be just the right size for her fingers. (Oh and we started peas, of course.)

This year we are using seeds from Uprising Seeds in Bellingham, Ed Hume seeds, and some Irish Eyes Garden seeds our friend Vanessa gave us. Can’t wait to see how things grow!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Seeds A Plenty

Well January flew by; it went so fast I feel like yesterday was Christmas Eve and here we are in the second week of February. What happened in between is a blurrrrr. As usual I'm ready to start digging in the garden, and so is Lily! Daily she's been asking to go outside and play and she wants her garden tools. Unfortunately it's still damp and chilly and her little fingers get frozen faster than mine. We make a good pair.

While the winter chill hangs around we stay warm inside and dream about our garden. I was able to interest her in the seed catalogues that have been arriving. On Saturday mornings we sit on the bench with our breakfast and page through them. She tries to name each vegetable or fruit, she gets extremely proud of herself, and then we talk about whether or not we want to plant each one. As of now she has us planting everything in the catalogue.

In reality here's what we'll probably plant this year: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale, leeks, lettuce - lots of lettuce - spinach, onions, scallions, snap peas, radishes, zucchini, patty pan, lemon thyme, parsley, mint, basil and lots of strawberries. I want to do more, but my gardening eyes are always living in a different reality than I am. Our blueberry plants are looking good. And after growing the GORGEOUS Black Swan Poppies from seed last year, I'm excited to add some new flowers to the yard, but I have no idea which ones just yet.

Some of the seeds I'll buy; I'll use a few from last year, (the ones that still germinate like my sugar snap peas - yippee!) and a friend just gave me a bunch of heirloom seeds to add to our collection. Oh I can't wait to get started. Hopefully Lily and I will start seeds this weekend, but in the meantime we'll put some flowers in our hair and keep dreaming with our catalogues and our gardening books. If you're interested in some great gardening books for your kids, you can check out my article at Happy Gardening!