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April 25th, 2011

Random Wishes & the Green Creep of Spring

I wish I had the patience and time to sit in my basement and watch my seeds grow. Wow, that sounds incredibly boring. OK, so maybe I’ll wish instead for some time-lapse photography equipment so that I could witness the glory and wonder that I assume surrounds the breaking through the surface of soil by the meek yet powerful tomato seedling.

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My first tomato seedling is an Itailian Heirloom

Like a sunrise or explosion. Or some kind of mathematical miscalculation or a statistical long shot, the tiny seed does it again, bursting onto the scene with the newness and grace of a baby antelope: one moment is birth, the next is running for its life with the herd.

Am I being over-dramatic? Do I attach too much significance to the lowly germination of a seed? I think not. I’m still in awe. And hopefully always will be. Me: the perpetual gardening simpleton.

On a larger scale, I am always humbled and silenced by that slow yet fast springtime creep of green over the hills in the distance. The trees look so soft and furry, mostly green, but sometimes reddish, with little dollops of white, yellow and pink from those flowering trees: the cherries, magnolias, and dogwoods.

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The Pennsylvania hills grow soft and green in the distance.

Sometimes I wish spring would last all year. But as George Harrison sings, “Sunrise doesn’t last all morning, a cloudburst doesn’t last all day: All things must pass.”

But while I’m wishing…I’d also like to wish for one of those electric cars. Hey Chevrolet, give me a Chevy Volt. Hey Nissan, give me a Leaf. Seriously, I think giving the online editor at OG an electric car would be a smart PR move. My commute to work screams out for an electric car. I would like to expunge gasoline from my life. Think about it.

On my way home the other day, I saw this sign: Beer cheaper than gas. Drink, don’t drive.

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That sort of sums it up...

Which reminds me, when the slugs start decimating your greens, put out little cups of beer. They’ll get so excited by the prospect of free beer that they’ll forget all about your lettuce or young tender broccoli plants. Learn more about trapping slugs with beer.

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April 18th, 2011

inside and outside

The garden at our house is moving along nicely on two fronts: indoor and outside.

You know about the peas, but we also planted spinach and radicchio by seed. The spinach looks good, but the radicchio is taking its time. I planted them together in one of the 2 x 8 raised beds in sort of a diagonal stripes.

turnip greens

turnip greens

We went up to the cold crop sale at the Rodale Institute last week and got some broccoli and arugula seedlings and a bag of onion sets. I put the onions in a few different beds, a row here, a row there, sort of out of the way along the back edges and outside corners of some of the bigger raised beds. I put the broccoli in the bed where I overwintered turnips and collards. (Wondering now if that’s a brassica overload; perhaps some crop rotation was in order. Live and learn.) We’ve been eating lots of turnip greens lately. Last October I planted about 40 bulbs of garlic in the other 2×8 bed. This all sounds like a lot of work, but my raised beds were ready to plant because I kept them heavily mulched all winter. The soil looks great, full of worms, ready for a productive season.

Inside, everything I planted a few weeks ago is up—except the marigolds. I’m wondering if my seeds were bad, or if they’re the kind of seed that needs darkness to germinate. I’ve left the fluorescent light on 24/7 since I planted the seeds. The rest of the seedlings seem to like it.

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The secret to growing seedlings is finding good help

And this past weekend, Iris and I planted tomato seeds. OG senior editor Doug gave me some of the seeds that he’s trialing in the test garden. I’m stating 4 varieties: Velvet Red, Black Icicle, Italian Heirloom, and Henderson’s Winsall.

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soil+seed+water+light+love=tomatoes

This is random, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the correlation between having kids and growing a garden. As new parents or new gardeners you have no idea what to expect. You worry a lot about the “right” way to do things and it can be stressful to say the least. But I’ve noticed, as my wife and I are getting very close to having our second child, that things are a little less stressful. Not that it’s not incredibly exciting; it’s just exciting in a whole new way. More on that later.

My seed potatoes shipped today. I should have them in time to plant them on Good Friday. Going for the mulch method this year. I had them in the ground a lot earlier last year.

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January 21st, 2011

A Gardener’s Optimism

It’s just about the dead middle of winter. I’ve been paging through seed catalogs, dreaming about planting peas, wondering how I’ll do my potatoes this year.

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My Garden in January

But here’s the thing: We’re looking to buy a house, my wife and I. We have a daughter who’s 2 and half, and we’re expecting a baby in May. Our house, however nicely situated in the world with its privacy and open space, is about to get too small, and it’s already too expensive to heat.

So my where does this leave my garden? Do I start seeds, do I prepare myself mentally for the spring, knowing full well that we might move and leave it all behind?

Yes. Of course I do. I’ll order my seeds. I’ll start them in the basement. I’ll plant my peas on St. Patty’s Day, I’ll plant my taters on Good Friday (actually, I just looked at the calendar and Good Friday is really late this year, so I’ll get the taters in sooner), and I’ll get things ready the way I always do. It’s part of who I am. I garden.

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