Friday, April 25, 2014

pocket contents of a gardener

i have a simple wardrobe.  a few long-sleeved shirts with most of their buttons or snaps still attached, some t-shirts (the favored one quite ragged about the neck and shoulders---wear from being worn), some socks for when i have to wear my shoes (one pair of boots ) though most of the time i can be found unshod (even in winter), a sweatshirt with a broken zipper and holes here and there, a jacket, a coat, a couple of hats, and three pairs of jeans---one for fancy dress and the other two for grubbing in the garden.  the two grubby pairs are worn in rotation---when one pair gets filthy enough to warrant a washing the pocket contents are sorted and changed into the pockets of the fresh pair.
i think one's pocket contents can tell a lot...

pocket contents 4/25/2014
list of pocket contents 4/25/2014 (pictured above) :

tool for felco hand pruner
universal screwdriver
mini leatherman (with scissors that have been horribly abused as pruners)
remnants of top of seed packet
mystery cap, possibly for irrigation, found in manure pile
calendula seeds
scarlet runner bean
hose washer
obsidian chip found while digging new garden bed
dollar bill and some change---likely to be spent on seed packet in hardware store or feed store

Thursday, April 24, 2014

selective weeding is selective breeding

i recently finished reading a book about vegetable breeding ( breed your own vegetable varieties by carol deppe).  it's a great book for getting started with vegetable breeding and seed saving.  i've been a sporadic seed-saver over the last several years but after reading deppe's book i've been inspired to get serious about it.  it's exciting to think about adapting vegetable varieties to our climate, gardening style and kitchen uses.  
the oldest and simplest form of plant breeding is selection---find a plant with some characteristic you like, keep selecting for that characteristic in future generations and eventually you get a new strain or variety that breeds true for the traits you've selected.  one could also select against certain characteristics by making sure that those characteristics are not permitted to continue into future generations by culling off-type plants or otherwise not allowing them to breed. 
i see weeding as a type of selection---especially with the way i do things in the garden these days.  when i started gardening i tried to keep the garden free of all weeds.  a lost cause of course and probably not a great way to go about things anyway.  i've come to believe it's good to have some weeds around.  it confuses the pests, helps keep a little more moisture in the soil, gives the beneficial critters some habitat, and some weeds are actually really good food.  so i've been practicing selective weeding and it seems to be working out just fine.  now i just manage the weed population, i don't try to eradicate them.  i keep things clean enough that there isn't too much competition for the garden varieties to deal with and i encourage the edible weeds to grow and reseed themselves. 
i've got stinging nettles, chickweed, and rocket growing in amongst the kale, pac choi, beans, etc.  the weeds are just as tasty and nutritious (maybe more so) as anything i've planted and i didn't have the work of planting them.  it's a pretty good deal and it makes meals a bit more interesting around here.

stinging nettle

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

the beginning

a chance meeting,
a chat in the garden,
twinkling blue eyes,
charming smile,
that was the beginning...

Saturday, April 12, 2014


trying out some new varieties of beans this year.  can't wait to see them twining their way up the bamboo trellises and the garden fence.  i've become somewhat bean obsessed of late.  it's a vegetable i feel a definite kinship with (and love to eat).  i've read that the pythagoreans revered the fava bean and believed that the souls of the dead traveled up through the hollow stems and would then reside in the beans.  for me too, there's something sacred in a bean---in the plants and pods and seeds and in the planting and harvesting of them.  it's a hard thing to describe but if you hold them in your hand you can feel it.

'christmas' lima

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

happy birthday, nicolas!

when zane found out today was your birthday he got all set to party---he was pretty bummed out when i told him you had to work.

have a great day, nick.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

shovels, handedness, and resolution number ten

the ground finally dried out enough for me to get back at the shovel.  i've got several new beds to dig for squashes and beans and who knows what else.  it was a lovely day for digging and while i was working i got to thinking about handedness (being left or right-handed).  i'm strongly right-handed for most everything.  i'm quite comfortably ambidextrous with a rake or broom.  but when it comes to the shovel it turns out i'm strongly left-handed, which i find interesting.  i didn't even know i was a left-handed shoveler until i came across instructions for how one should hold a shovel depending on one's handedness---i always thought i was shoveling right-handedly.  i've had a general fascination with handedness for some time.  i've had this idea that if i use my off hand to do things i usually do with my dominant hand it will nudge my brain into making new connections---new physical/neurological connections in my brain and body and new connections in how i think about things---how i see things (new year's resolution number ten, "see things differently"  i want to be able to keep my mind fresh and my thinking flexible---it's a challenge.  so after i did a fair amount of shoveling as i normally do i switched hands and finished up---if nothing else it will keep my arms evenly muscled.  tonight i'll try to remember to brush my teeth with my left hand.

Friday, April 4, 2014

the big switch

staal got the new water system up and running.  there's still a little fine tuning to be done but everything seems to be working as it should.

he made the last of the plumbing connections yesterday.

when he had the plumbing finished he tidied up the electrical work.

i think he may have said a little prayer before he flipped the switch for the first time...

  it'll take some time for the tank to fill.  slow and steady and all that. 

checking out the water level
 the man does good work. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

early april snow

we got a little snow in the night---maybe a couple inches.  it's melting pretty quickly ( i like that part).  staal and i went out this morning and had fun walking around and taking pictures.  

zane loves snow

chinese pistache

wild turkey tracks

the aforementioned wild turkeys

semi-domesticated turkey

manzanita blossoms---kind of looks like a dessert to me

never know how things are going to turn out when you mix tender new growth and snowfall but the garden seems to have come through just fine.

low tunnels looking a little droopy under the snow load

cold frame keeping some plants cozy


more lettuce---just because it's pretty

squash seedlings outside on the potting bench keeping warm with a heat mat and humidity dome

it was a lovely morning. 

staal took some really great photos---you can see things from his perspective here:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

snow on the mountain

it's been raining off and on for several days.  got a another good shower last night.  zane and i were out a bit earlier---chilly---and looks like buckingham mountain got a light dusting of snow.  

guess we're getting a little winter before we head into summer.  seems like spring usually only lasts a day or two around here.  the forecast says it's going to be rainy and in the 50's for a couple more days and then we'll be in the 80's within a week or so.