Thursday, February 28, 2013


I was very amused this morning to read articles in the Washington Post by the two Thursday garden columnists, Adrian Higgins and Barbara Damrosch, which start out respectively:

If you are itching to get into the garden on a mild winter’s day, you might want to grab a good pair of hand pruners and some sharp loppers and go in search of a shrub to prune.


If you’ve got the gardening itch and it’s too early to scratch it, try growing some microgreens.

I think we can agree that everyone is a little itchy, and possibly irritable and testy and skin-crawly and hot under the collar, and if it's not the flu it may be the gardening bug.  I tend to scratch the itch by getting some soilless mix under my fingernails and starting seeds.  Photos soon ETA: photo of some of my baby plants:

Here's the list of what I've started so far.

Greens for demo garden: kale (Lacinato, Lark's Tongue), mustard (Southern Giant Curled and Red Giant), Chinese cabbage, komatsuna, purple pak choi, broccoli raab, collards (Green Glaze), kohlrabi (green and purple), cabbage (Early Jersey Wakefield and Red Acre), and gai lan (Chinese broccoli).  I may be a little early on some of these, but it gets so hot so fast and a lot of them bolt, so better to get them planted early and offer temperature protection if needed.

Peppers (mostly for me): Fish (no luck with germination, but I have just acquired some new seeds), Antioch (an Armenian heirloom, mildly hot), Red Cheese, Sweet Banana, and Romeo (these are to go with Juliet tomatoes, yes I am geeky).  Also some yellow bells and Italian frying peppers that have not germinated.

Other: cardoons (also on second germination try and succeeding this time), sorrel (more old seed, dunno if it'll work but I do want more plants), parsley, celeriac.

I wish I had room for microgreens.  As it is Older Son is going to have to share his room with some seedlings on his visit home.

Some of the many things I need to do outside when we do have a mild day and I have time in it:

Pruning, yes, thank you Adrian.

Setting up the tunnel I got PVC pipe and fastened brackets onto a raised bed for several years ago and have never actually used.  I'm not going to grow anything in the bed, but I do need some outdoor space for hardening off seedlings, and after the demise of my "mini-greenhouse" thing with the shelves and the zippered cover that broke the first year, all I have is a small shelf on the deck and row cover, and that is not enough for the vast number of seedlings in pots that are soon going to be requiring space that currently does not exist.  Existential crisis!  Metaphysics!  Tunnel of intermediate size to the rescue!

Getting over to the community garden plot and making the soil ready for planting.  I can actually direct-seed some hardy things right away once I get that done.  Real soil under the fingernails!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Like the headlights of an oncoming train...

Which is the end of the sentence "I see spring in the distance..."  Oh, it's a joy to have little plants bursting out of seeds in the laundry room again, and to be planning what to grow, and to be talking to other people about all that, but... it comes at you fast, doesn't it?  Yikes.

On the other hand, it's sleeting on and off outside just now, so I am reminded that it's still February.

Hi there.  I haven't written anything here in a while.  This is for several reasons:

1) Still wrestling with some health issues: the thyroid problems not solved yet and the knee still hurting. But I do have more energy and I can walk, and I'm hoping I'll be able to manage the physical labor of gardening and you know, squatting and kneeling and so forth.  Or else ignominiously scooting about on my butt with my right leg stretched out straight.  Somehow I'll manage it.  At the demo garden I have minions MG interns to dictate various tasks to, but my new community garden plot will need lots of work and that is down to ME.

Here's what it looked like when I was last there in December, by the way:

(It is very, very difficult to take a good photo of an empty garden plot.  Photos will get more interesting as the season progresses.)

I need to get out there again to start getting beds ready for planting.  Whenever it warms up a little.

2) Every time I thought about posting the ghosts of a thousand worms held me back.  That's right; I killed my worms.  It was plain and simple neglect; and yeah, I was sick, but still. *guilt*  They did make some lovely compost for me before they succumbed; in fact, I thought they were doing great and were ready to come up to the next level of my worm bin, and then... somehow they didn't make the journey, and apparently all died from starvation, best I can tell.  And if I'd been looking at them every few days as I should have, that wouldn't have happened.

I'm going to start over in the spring.  But oh dear.  Alas poor worms.

3) Some winters I just don't want to think about gardening, okay?  Especially since I know how many projects I got behind on last summer and will probably not have time or energy to catch up on this year.

But I'm back and I will make an effort to post on a regular basis, here and at Grow It Eat It.  I haven't done a Garden Bloggers Bloom Day in a while; next month there will probably be lots of flowers.  Right now I just have frozen snowdrops, and inside this weird and spectacular amaryllis:

In the MG world, aside from blogging and plotting, I seem to have become someone who stands up in front of groups and talks.  I was asked to do the three-hour introduction to vegetable gardening for the new MG class (I interpreted that as "what do you have to know about vegetable gardening to be a MG" and it went pretty well, I think); last night I talked about container gardening in schools to local teachers; next month I'm doing a spring veggie gardening talk to a garden club; and in April, if I have enough people registered, I'm teaching Intensive Vegetable Gardening again at Montgomery College.  I like putting together the powerpoints and I'm getting better at making the words come out of my mouth coherently, so I'll probably be doing more of this as time goes on.

I'm behind on keeping records already, but next post I'll try to list seedlings already started, and maybe put up some baby pictures.

Train arriving soon...