Sunday, March 27, 2011

Maybe this is why it makes me happy

Even when I was ten, gardening made me really happy. I may not have known why then, but maybe it was more than just a quirk of personality. Maybe it's science. That's right -- the only antidepressant that's hard to clean out from under your fingernails.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Instant garden

I broke today -- after a morning coffee with the eldest child, I headed for the local nursery to pick up an early birthday present for me. Seedlings! I got two six packs of leeks (with 2-8 leeks per pot), two six packs of lettuce mixes, two six packs of asparagus, and a single potted artichoke. The front yard artichoke was split but the transplanted half thrived and the original half dwindled to almost nothing, so I figured a jump start was in order.

I've been so behind with the seedlings downstairs that I wonder if I'll ever see seed-started lettuce! It's just been a bad winter, garden-wise.

So the jump start seemed to be all I needed. In a break in the rain, I raked smooth the bed infested with potato scab, and put in, with many incantations to the spring goddesses, a dozen feathery asparagus babies.

It strikes me that planting asparagus is a really optimistic gardening move. It says that you're going to be around for at least the next few years, just to coax the plants along. Since these were seedlings, not large crowns, it may be up to four years before I get to eat anything. Oh well, it keeps me busy!

The leeks filled a small bed and half a large bed. Before the lettuce could be sited, the rain opened up again and I headed inside. There a flat waited, so I seeded two kinds of kale and about eight different kinds of lettuce. My version of succession planting -- nursery seedlings AND home-seeded ones! Whatever gets you eating, I suppose.

In distressing news, the garden kale is going to seed, and I didn't succession seed well enough to have more at the right point. So I may end up (gasp) buying kale to eat. Now I wish I'd frozen some!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Garden Goes On

Without a lot of work on my part, but with a lot of help from child and friends, the garden might actually amount to something this year. Of course, my recordkeeping has already gone to pot. I've harvested and cheerfully eaten pounds of kale (and perhaps ounces of aphids) without writing a single amount down. We're still listing eggs, pretty much, on the calendar, but that's about it.

Oh, and the garden plan/drawing thing. I'm sketching things in there as they go in. At least I have some record. Mostly what I want is food -- much much more food. Kale is great, but we eat a lot more than kale usually.

And finally, finally, and with the help of the current Junior Farmer, some crops under lights. Tomatoes, a pepper or two (because not all of the overwintered ones are going to make it), some more kale (yay, kale!), and many flowers because families do not thrive on food alone. Well, okay, some of the flowers are things like breadseed poppies, because baked goods are pretty wonderful, but many are just pretty. For instance, we like zinnias a lot.

And both of my hives, it ended up, dwindled until the lives of the queens were at stake. Disease? I don't think so. Pests? Maybe. I think it was probably a combination of bad keeping and harsh weather -- but both queens were rehomed in more congenial hives and then a friend came over and dropped an entire hive on the fancy stand in my yard.

And fifty strawberries, it turns out, is a lot. Fortunately they all went into the ground ahead of torrential rains. I hope they like it. The winter-planted garlic is growing well, thank goodness. I wish I'd planted more, of course. . . And the peas, the peas that were protected by bird netting, they're still doing really well. So even though there's a ton more work to do, I don't feel anymore as though I'm lying when I tell people I have a large garden. It's just that not all of it (rather than none) is in production right this minute. At least there's hope now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can't knit? Spin!

Knitting seems a bit stall-ish here. The mittens are slogging along, and I'm surprised every time I pick them up how little I'm enjoying them. I think part of it might be the steel needles -- they're slippery, and so I spend some energy just keeping the alpaca on them -- and part of it is that I'm contemplating learning the two-at-a-time-on-two-circs methods, so the stop/start of dpns is a bit of a drag. And some of it is that I knit woefully slowly when I remember to knit.

Then there's that sweater. A sweater I would actually happily wear most mornings in this house. It's a bit chilly. Got to the bottom, did the second round of color work, ribbed, bound off. . . tried it on.

And. That second round of color work doesn't do much for my shape or my mental image of myself in the sweater. Out it came. Now I'm back to round and round and round we go with stockinette. In brown. On metal tips. Feels perhaps slower than it really is, and I hesitate to believe that it's going to look any better on me. Sigh.

Tonight, I spun instead. Fun, fast, almost instant gratification (or else it feels that way; it's clearly not) and I finally finished the first half of the lovely Grafton Fibers orange:

Such a small-looking bobbin in front of a blanket of top. I'll cross the ply/single bridge in the months to come, since it will probably take that long for me to finish. I do know a couple of babies who deserve hats, though. . . Do the moms want hand-wash only hats? I do not know.

I also don't know what goes through my children's heads. As I noted, the house is, indeed, chilly. And homeschooling gives one some flexibility in education that isn't available in other settings, but still. . .

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Happy Birthday

Yesterday somebody turned 16 at my house.

She's a treasure -- always something interesting to say, funny, sharp as a tack, and doing that lovely "growing up in front of you" thing so I get to enjoy it. Considerate, no?

Right now she's asleep nearby. I know there aren't many more years I'll be able to say that, so I'm enjoying it (even though I kind of wish I, too, was asleep). And tomorrow I'll watch her run and leap on the Frisbee field and think of how fortunate we all are to have her in our lives.