Let the Planting Begin! Or not.


For me, this year’s gardening season had officially begun.  I had sun.  I had 60 degree plus weather.  It felt like spring.  Even though it was before the calendar officially rang in spring, I was ready to get a jump on the end of winter and leap optimistically into spring.  So I kicked it off with a trip to the nursery to pick up packets of seeds and buy a beautifully designed and written book on growing, harvesting and cooking.

Then off to the community garden plot to pull off the plastic from the cold frame that was protecting my lettuce, swiss chard and kale that I had been over-wintering since the fall.

Spring was in the air. I could feel it. I could smell it.  I could hear the birds chirping in the morning. I was in ether of spring fever. Nothing could stop my joy. I grabbed my new iPad Mini and found a gardening app to help me with my seed planting schedule. The old notebook method be damned. My recently purchased packets were carefully organized according to cool weather seeds and warm weather seeds. Peas and parsley seeds were jumping out of my hands ready for planting.

Well. That was two weeks ago.

Now there is a forecast for snow for this weekend.   We are talking 20-30 degrees at night and up to 40 degrees by day.  The cold frame plastic is back on. Well, only after I kindly requested (forced) my husband to put it back on.

Okay, I knew better.  I always know better.  I do this every winter/spring. But spring (and hope) springs eternal.


Seeds, Seeds and More Seeds

Post Hagrid Attack

The count is in.  Twenty tomato seedlings, about 12 of which are really healthy.  The other 8 too early to tell.   One eggplant seedling. Four pepper seedlings (with two looking a little bit whimpy).   Yes, very low on peppers and eggplants.  After two more Hagrid attacks (who knew a cat could contort himself to such a degree that he could put his paw in sideways and keep whapping at the pot until it tumbled over, smothering seedlings in potting soil??) and probably the trauma of transplanting, my peppers and eggplants did not prove to be robust enough to survive.   Looks like I will need to rely on the nursery to round out this year’s eggplant needs.  If all my peppers survive, then all will be well in pepper land and no nursery seedlings will be required.

(You can see the photos of the more recent Hagrid attack, complete with soil spread about on the floor.  Then a photo of Hagrid in the cage while I transplanted seedlings, and him in action trying to paw and knock over my watering container.  Finally, the photo of the anti-Hagrid reinforcements designed to prevent his paw from breaching the perimeter.)

My cold frame crop is doing BEAUTIFULLY, just beautifully.  All my herbs are growing strong.  My strawberries are growing green leaves. My lettuce is doing wonderfully, both the nursery transplants and all the seeds that I planted.  (I ended up needing to plant some more nursery transplants to replace those that were off’d by the last squirrel attack.)  I planted arugula and pot of of gold container swiss chard today in various pots and put them in the cold frame.  I also planted lettuce, bright lights swiss chard and mustard greens in containers and put them on the front porch.  The chard and mustard greens are in a recycled frozen lasagna trays while the lettuce is in one of those big under the bed plastic storage box. I totally love my cold frame.  Happy to report that the anti-squirrel perimeter barriers are holding up nicely.  (In addition to stapling plastic mesh where I had gaps, I am using the logs chopped up from the huge branch that fell from the last storm to hold down the plastic door and seal off the entrance.)

I planted some basil and stuck the little pots in the kitchen window sill.    So, all in all, I am content on the seed front.  Next weekend is the big yard clean up as we edge ever so closer to that ever magical “last frost date.”  Although given the very unpredictable weather patterns these days, that date may be ever more elusive.

Click on “Pea Pods” to see more photos of the cold frame, indoor greenhouse set up and Hagrid.

Lettuce be Joyful!

After leaving a bowling birthday party for a classmate of my 7 year old son, we turned right out of the parking lot and what did we see?……………………..the Garden Nursery!!!!!  I could hardly believe my eyes.  We got to the bowling alley from a direction that totally disconnected me to the fact that I was in fact right next to the…………Garden Nursery!!!!!!!   All those periods are for drama and effect and all those exclamation points are to highlight the fact that I was so totally excited about an impromtu visit to the plant store.   Excitement rose as we parked the car.  Then I was bordering giddy as we got out and entered the greenhouse.  Then I turned downright outrageously giddy upon seeing lettuce seedlings sitting all alone in the vast greenhouse with no other vegetable in sight.  I am not kidding. I put the GID-DY in giddy.  (I know there a lot of “giddys” there but I can’t think of a more perfect word or state of being right now.)  When we pulled into the parking lot, I thought at best, I would score some pepper seeds, maybe some cool garden sheers to prune the herbs I overwintered in the cold frame.   That would have made my day.  Really.  So you can only imagine (I know for some it is totally hard to imagine anyone getting so over joyed at seeing lettuce seedlings but work with me on this) the bubbling feeling of joy that started from my toes and shot right up to my head, thus causing me to nearly jump up and down like the seven year olds I just left at the bowling alley did when they hit a spare.   You see, let me explain.  It is only the first week in March.  I did not expect such treasures for a few more weeks, maybe not until April.  Who knew?  So I picked up a few flats and for good measure, added a few packets of  lettuce seeds to my purchase.  Then I had an intense conversation with the guy at the checkout counter on the hardiness of lettuce in this unpredictable weather we have been having. He told me about how they had some of the lettuce outside a few days back when the temperature dipped into the 20s and they did fine.  Also, we chatted about over wintering lettuce (he did it this year, I did last year but not this year).  I would have gone on and on about lettuce if my husband and seven year old didn’t pull me away. Oh,  I also did an impulse purchase of some type of small seedling pots that are organic and can be planted right in the ground and then compost and have some type of magical mimicking of nature and nutrients to boot.  Okay, I KNOW it was marketing for people like me, but whatever.  They were cool and I am trying them out.

Peas or Peace??

Peas or Peace? I have been intending to start a blog about gardening and my newly found but now deeply rooted (ha ha) connection to the dirt, seeds and things that grow from a vegetable garden. I suppose that I am one of the modern day vegetable gardeners who found herself passionately in love with seeds, seedlings and the magical process of growing vegetables.

I was so excited about the thought of spring that I went to the nursery two weeks ago, despite the fact that it was 30 degrees outside. With total excitement, I scanned the seed packets, trying to distinguish between the dozen or so types of tomato varieties. Then the selection of peas. Oh, so many!! What to choose?? Focusing on peas because they will be the first that will get planted in my cold frame and tomatoes because that is what I will be starting inside this year. Purchased some seeds and soil and brought them home intending to plant them this past weekend. But they have yet to be planted. Why?

Well, that is where the peace part comes in. The Peas or Peace part. (And tomatoes too but given this blog starts with peas, well I HAVE to include them or where would be the required symmetry be?) Okay, I digress. The peace part. Well, the issue is when I was ready to get started on spring, a kinda late winter storm came crashing down. The US House of Representatives decided to zero out the funding of the United States Institute of Peace. That is where I work. So my focus and energy was immediately shifted to the need of planting seeds of a different type: peace. So no peas. Stay tuned. Still working on the peace…..and peas.

Peas for Peace

Finally!!!  My blog.  About Gardening and Peace.   My two favorite subjects.   I can’t believe I finally did it and figured out (okay, also after being a tad bit, okay, totally intimidated on how to set up one of these things) how to set up a blog (with a little help from Patrick and Calvin).  Nothing like a “crisis” to spark one into action and get the intentions put into action.  I suppose that is where challenges are to be thanked, for their ability to get us to finally plant the seeds that we only talked about in theory.  Please see next blog for the “crisis” that I have to thank for planting this seed.