Saturday, January 28, 2006

Busy in the garden and an interesting book, etc:

Dear Readers,

I have had a very busy day, for me . . . Since the accident (which was over a year ago) I find I can only do about a tenth of what I used to do. But life does go on!

This morning I had a number of seeds that had germinated that needed moved to six packs. These included Cilantro, Sweet Cecily, Chervil, Black Berry Lily, Vitex, and White Butterfly Weed. The Vitex and White Butterfly Weed are new plants for me. I have never grown them before. I already had some starts in the nursery flat that spends the daytimes outside, so I put the new germinations in my warm covered flat. We will see which does the best.

I was able to get outside and weed a bit in the morning, in light rain. But it suddenly turned into a down pour so I scurried in and got into some dry clothes. Later the rain cleared up, so I finished weeding, spread some wood ashes around the perimeter of my raised beds, dug a worm hole and deposited their dinner*, and planted some iris rhizomes, a hardy ammarylis bulb, and one zabrina mallow and a couple of my mixed up ornamental kales. (My ornamental kale - from seeds I had saved from last years garden, is clearly crossed with Red Russian Kale. We shall see what it grow up to look like.)

I used the dirt left over from the worms hole to top off some raised beds, and one other spots in need. All the dang rain we have been getting had washed the dirt away from some plants roots. We have had about 12 inches over our average rain for the season . . .

I also sprinkled some seeds around. Some old cauliflower - low germination and I really don't especially like how it performs in this environment. Also some Grumelo - a European chicory - which I don't like to eat - but it is very ornamental. I have a spot that I am having trouble getting anything to grow. Between the bush bunnies, the slugs, and the birds, the ground is practically bare. I am hoping they don't like chicory anymore than I do, and at least something will survive. Last but not least I sprinkled around some crimson clover seeds. They are nitrogen fixers and also very pretty . . .

I have been reading a book from the library, "The Principles of Gardening" by Hugh Johnson. It is a lovely book and I really like the writing. A few interesting things I have noticed so far include: He doesn't seem to like shrubs. In fact he seems a little disparaging of the poor bushes and shrubbery. I don't suppose he understands what my Grannie knew about shrubs though: He also talks about the British gardening habit if burying compost and so forth beneath the rows in trenches. They do it not so much to feed the worms as a direct soil admendment. According to Johnson they go so far as to bury rags and newspaper. My goodness, and I was worried about folks thinking I am weird. LOL However they also use commercial fertilizers in the years they don't trench, and worms hate fertilizer.

Anyway, when I finish the book I will try to give you a better review. The writing is really lovely as are the photos and art. It is really more about the art of gardening for pleasure and beauty than about growing food. But it has several chapters that address growing food from a very British perspective. I have been reading quite a few gardening books from our local libraries. I hope to sit down soon and tell you all about them.

And on the subject of garden writing, my piece on Cilantro was published by the Hoopa People Paper a week or two ago. I haven't even seen a copy yet - so if anyone has a copy laying around please save it for me. They are going to start a regular garden section and have asked if I will contribute articles to it from time to time. I am jazzed about that. Going to save all the nickels and dimes to get my own computer fixed or replaced. Then I can share some photos here too . . .

*(If you haven't read about my garden routine and are curious about me feeding the worms, check this out: )

Alrighty, I am beat . . . Got to go tuck myself in . . . Please ignore my spelling . . . LOL

You all have sweet dreams!


Friday, January 27, 2006

Hot deals for seed starting

Dear Readers,

I am just beat . . . Got home from San Jose late Tuesday afternoon (and I do have more stories to tell you, sooner or later). I barely recovered from all that on Wednesday, and headed to the coast for major grocery shopping, etc. on Thursday. This morning I had some business to take care of up in Willow Creek, so I was back on the bus. TGIF! I need a rest. I still haven't gotten out in the garden. Must be getting close to a week now. But at least I have gotten to play with the seeds and tend my seedlings, so it is not all bad.

Speaking of seedlings I am just jazzed with a second hand store find I brought home today. I very slowly have been putting together a way to germinate seeds that need some supplemental warmth. I normally germinate seeds at room temperature, you can read more about my techniques at the link below: However, my tobacco seeds need a warm environment through germination and for an additional six weeks. And I have some seeds for Angel Trumpets and Bird of Paradise that also need to be very warm.

A few months ago I purchased a couple of seed starting trays and one clear plastic dome cover. One of the trays has holes in the bottom and the other doesn't - since I am going to use them inside I needed the solid bottom one for a drain tray. (If any of you live up here on the North Coast - Pierson's has these trays at a better deal than any place I found on-line. ) Then this Thursday, when I went to town, I purchased a terarium thermometer, and a clamp on light. (The seed tray lives on a metal wire plant shelf, it gets some sunlight, but not really enough.)

I found that by carefully adjusting the light I can maintain a temperature of 75 degrees inside the seed starting dome. But overnight, without the light, the temperature dropped to 60 degrees, and that just won't do. Plants generally need dark at night, just like we do, so leaving the light on all the time is not really a good option. So today when I headed to Willowcreek I had a few things in mind to look for at the second hand store.

I thought that a yogurt maker, a bottle warmer, or even a lap warmer might work. What I most wanted to find was a small kitchen warming tray. And that is exactly what I did find, on the clearance table. I also found a juicer on that discount table. And a few weeks ago I found a Dial-a-Matic vegetable slicer all at incredible unbelievable discount prices. However all that is a different subject.

Today, in between everything else, I have gotten the warming tray set up under the seed starting tray. It took a little fine tuning. I found a number of small flat stones in the garden and am using them to lift the seed tray just a bit off the warming tray. It took some trial and error and experimenting, I have now maintained a temp of 80 degrees for a few hours. So I am jazzed. The temperature range is perfect for the seeds I want to start!

You can, of course, buy brand new seed tray warmers. But they will cost you at least $50.00. If you want one with an adjustable thermostat - they will cost you even more. So keep your eyes peeled for a warming tray at the second hand store near you. Another second hand store option is a wet/dry adjustable heating pad. I know several people who use them.

OK, I am working on the news for my other Internet project: I edit and choose which items we post each day . . . And "news" reminds me of something . . . But it will have to wait till tomorrow!

Chat with you then!


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Urban Fertility Rituals

Dear Readers,

I am recently home from the big city, with much on my mind. Down there in the dense urban sprawl they have little pockets saved from development and labeled "Nature areas." Now the big city folks do not conduct their fertility rituals in the designated natural mud. Oh no. They seem loathe to even walk on the muddy ground. The truth is, that stepping off the graded and paved trail can lead to fines, imprisonment, and public castigation. And we definitely cannot have that.

City dwellers have moved their fertility rites from the privacy and comfort of muddy wallows and corn fields to thin walled hotels. These dot their urban landscape and are handy to anyone who feels the urge. Of course one has to pay a fee to make use of these convenient pit stops. But that does not seem to stop very many folks from their duties to seasonal fertility.

I must admit, that not so very many years ago, I too enjoyed illicit rituals in anonymously hotels. However, I am hoping that "those good vibrations" did not carry through wall, floor, through the very air, as they seem to in today's world.

The room on my right contained, barely, a youngish couple. They had somehow got beyond the uncomfortable bit of not knowing each other well, and moved right into an urban fertility comedy routine. He was very verbal. And while he didn't seem to speak English well, he was certainly vociferous. He was delighting (or bemusing) his ritual partner with a few often repeated lines. "You are going to have another one, another one, another one, get ready, you are going to have another one." Maybe it was a chant? In any event, her response didn't seem to vary much - she screeched, laughed, giggled, and they went on and on. It is this repetition that separates ritual from real life.

As soon as the folks mentioned above had completely exhausted themselves, the people in the room on my left took up the flame, so to speak. They were much more serious. There was absolutely no speaking or laughing. It was all squeaking springs, creaking bed-frame, banging headboard, and heavy breathing punctuated by grunts and groans. The image that kept coming to mind, was the hotel mattress getting soaked in sweat. Mind you, at that exact moment, there were only a few thin layers of fabric between my skin and a similar hotel mattress. I found the thought slightly disturbing . . .

Dear Readers, I am sorry, I can't tell you how it all turned out. I am a terrible commentator. I got bored. Here I am at almost 50 years of age, and I still look damn hot. But the truth is, I'm not. Somehow the thermostat for my libido has gotten stuck on "off." And I am definitely not complaining about it either. I have no idea how long this will last. But I can take a deep breath of relief from time to time, as long as it does. From my current cool, calm, and dry perspective, I must say that it all seemed a little ridiculous. It seemed like a huge waste of time and energy.

I would much rather garden. In the garden you are a little more likely to know what you are getting into. Garden plants rarely yell or turn mean. While plants can catch viruses - they are harmless to human beings. The reproductive habits of plants will not annoy your neighbors with oft repeated phrases, banging on the wall, or grunting around like little pigs. Reproductive surprises do happen in the garden. But if they are unpleasant - one can just toss them into the compost pile. And if you get sick of a plant, you don't need a cop, a lawyer, or a restraining order. You can simply give the plant to a neighbor and no one will bat an eye.

Unless they are my neighbors. Then, of course they will make something juicy of it and spread it around. For instance, did I tell you that last summer one of my neighbors called the cops on me? Seems someone or other thought I as growing unlawful herbs . . . Dang, but it wasn't me . . .

It is time to check on my seedlings . . . So you all be good, till I can get back to you with more scandalous gardening secrets . . .