Gardening with Family and Friends

My friends and family are usually the recipients of the potager's largesse. A girl can only eat so many tomatoes, you know? When I worked on a CSA last year, I wound up giving my parents some of my veggies, too. I think maybe it spoiled them.

My mother informed me today that she purchased a very nice pair of garden gloves for me, and a pair for the BF, too! While it was certainly a thoughtful gesture, she wanted to be sure I told him they weren’t free. She expects a tithe from the garden. However, if we're going to make salsa at the farm anyway, she'll just take her share in finished product. She was laughing the whole time she said this, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this was a joke. She wants those tomatoes.

Of course, we are talking about the woman who asked if I had a pregardenuptual agreement about the farm garden. I told her possession is 9/10ths of the law, but since I'm planning on keeping the BF, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Lest you think I love him only for his land and access to horse manure, let me tell you when I knew the BF was a no-question about it keeper. He gave me a gift bag with three wrapped gifts in it, and a card that said he wanted me to be adequately prepared and defended from the veggies, even if he wasn’t there to protect me. The first gift said “Knowledge,” and it was a copy of Organic Gardening magazine. The second said “Self-Defense,” and it was the best Farmer’s Weeder I’ve ever seen. I mean, you could disembowl a deer with this thing, let alone take on weeds. The final gift said “Know Your Enemy.” It was a copy of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

That’s when I knew. I knew the way you know about a good melon.

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Magic Box

It's 11 degrees outside, with a nasty wind whipping through the trees. I've mostly recovered from my cold, worked a few hours, and am feeling restless. I ordered the APS system from Gardener's Supply, as I'm going to try starting from seed indoors for the first time this year. I installed a shop light in the kitchen and everything. (It actually looks much nicer than it sounds. Frankly, I'm getting way more use out of my indoor potting shed than I ever did when it was a breakfast nook.)

If the seed starting experiment is a success this year, I should have enough seedlings for the potager and the farm garden, as well as some for CAS. She's planning to construct grow boxes on her driveway. Or maybe she's planning for us to construct grow boxes on her driveway. Either way, I'm hopeful I'll be able to pass on tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. 

Seems like a good time to go through my magic box o' seeds. I'm partial to organic seeds and packages with pretty hand-drawn illustrations. I do have some leftover Burpee seeds, though, so I'll plant those out this year and see how they do. 

Bush Blue Lake Bean
Scarlet Runner Bean
Kaleidoscope Carrot Mix
Heatwave Blend Lettuce Mix
Super Sugar Snap Pea
Mesclun Sweet Salad Mix
Big Tasty Hybrid Watermelon
Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon

Ferry Morse 
(Picked these up at Lowes last year in a fit of optimism. I mean, it's not like the potager has room for corn. But by golly, the farm garden does!)
Morning Star Hybrid Sweet Corn

Renee's Garden 
(Gorgeous packets! Plus the seeds in mixes are color coded so you know exactly what you're planting. I think her seeds are particularly nice for the small-scale potager gardener.)
Romeo Round Baby Carrots
Babette French Baby Carrots
Heirloom Cutting Mix Baby Leaf Lettuce
Crimson Crunch Round Red Radish
Catalina Baby Leaf Spinach

And new this year to the potager!
Little Prince Container Eggplant
Jewel-Toned Bell Peppers
  • Vidi (red)
  • Admiral (yellow)
  • Valencia (orange)
Summer Feast Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Black Krim
  • Sweet Persimmon
  • Costoluto 

Tricolor Patty Pan Squash Summer Scallop Trio

  • Sunburst 
  • Starship
  • Peter Pan
Plus about six varieties of nasturtiums and some marigolds for the potager. I also picked up Renee's Perfume Delight Sweet Pea mix and Purple Flowering Hyacinth Bean for elsewhere in the garden. I cannot WAIT for spring.

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February Thaw

The sun is shining for the first time in recent memory, and the thermometer is at a relatively balmy 43 degrees. This would be the perfect day to take out my pruners and start lopping back shrubs…

Except I have the cold from hell. It is 1:30 in the afternoon, and I have just crawled out of a bedroom lair full of Kleenex, Airborne, water glasses, and a cat who moves into my spot on the bed every time I sit up to blow my nose. Given that I woke up with a fever, I'm thinking any kind of outdoor activity is out.

Plus I'm too scattered to really focus on anything. That's particularly unfortunate, as I am supposed to present a seminar about rose growing at the store tomorrow. I've done my research, but I still have to compile it. And let me tell you, roses are not a subject you distill down into a half hour of highlights.

I have acquired Smith & Hawken's two rose books–100 Old Roses for the American Garden and 100 English Roses for the American Garden–which contain everything I need. I wish I had had them before I started ordering roses for my own garden. They're out of print, but it's amazing what you can find at Half Price Books.

The photography in particular is wonderful, and now I'm trying to determine if I can squeeze in a couple of English roses. I already have in the old rose category a Mdme Isaac Piere and a Reine Victoria, as well as three pink Knock Outs in the back and three red Knock Outs in the front. A yellow English Rose might look great with the caryopeteris in front of the garage.

And I'll definitely try self-pegging this year. If you gently lash the ends of your rose branches down to the stems of the bush, the growth hormones get trapped in the stems and then you get flowers all along the stem instead of just at the end. Plus it helps keep the rose in bounds, particularly helpful when you're dealing with the English roses, which get a lot bigger in America's warmer climate than they do in their homeland.

So I suppose I'll crawl back into bed with plant catalogs and allow my fevered brain to rest on the upcoming growing season for a while. I'll work on my seminar the next time I drag myself out of bed. Hopefully the worst of this cold will pass by tomorrow. 

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Longing for Spring

Today the weather man is predicting four to eight inches of snow. The only way to survive such a dreary forecast is to stock up on hot chocolate and pull out the garden catalogs. In the long, slow slog toward spring, one of the things that keeps me sane is flipping through seed and plant catalogs, fantasizing about new border combinations and exotic foodstuffs. 

So I start to think about seeds. Our new seeds arrived at the store, and I spent several hours organizing and setting them out. With that firsthand look, I started my seed list. Then I came home, went through all the seeds I have left from last year, and managed to knock that list down quite a lot.

I ALWAYS buy more seeds than I can actually use. I seem to be space-planting challenged. 

But in a weird twist of fate, my darling BF lives on a farm, in the actual country. He is in no way space-challenged. So this year we are planning a garden together. Just think of it! All that space! This year, it's corn, and pumpkins, and melons trailing over the ground! Massive field crops that have no place in my tiny, tidy city potager! I cannot wait!

He even can get me truckloads of aged horse manure. Horse manure! It's these things that make the fraudulent farmgirl's heart go pitter-pat.

In the meantime, I contemplate with anticipation the occasional thaw we are bound to get in February. On those rare warmer days, I'll pull out my trusty Felco #6 pruners and shape up my shrubs. And then retire to my kitchen rocking chair to contemplate just how many kinds of tomatoes I can realistically squeeze in.

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