Monday, January 19, 2009

Earth Worms and Compost

It is a little sad, what makes my heart beat faster, this time of year. There is of course a lack of gardening articles available this time of year, but I can always find something. This week I found a hymn of praise for earth worms, I can't remember where. These homely little creatures are a great resource for the soil. They move through, breaking it up, and leaving behind their casings, which are great for the soil and the compost heap. I only started composting last year, so I'm really excited about the black gold waiting for me under the pile of chopped up leaves, vegetable peelings, spent container soil, and anything else I found that seemed appropriate. It all breaks down together, and slowly, over the months, becomes this beautiful, friable black garden soil. A big improvement over the rocky soil that made up most of my yard. I have been slowly improving my dirt for years, with peat moss, chopped up leaves, and other supplements.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Planning ahead

There are so many small practical things to do now, while I can't actually work outside much. There has been snow on the ground for weeks, good for the perennials trying to survive the bitter cold. More plants die from being dried out than being actually frozen, the snow really is a moist protective blanket for them.

So I dig out my notes from last season, and make lists. Lists of plants to buy, like a mandevillea for the deck, I've had no luck with overwintering mandevillea.. Estimates of mulch, river rock, zinnia seeds, estimates that will change a dozen times before actual purchase. But it cheers me up to plan for my spring garden, for my summer annuals, for the new neighborhood herb garden I'm installing in my front yard. The change of seasons, like the phases of the moon, can be counted on.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More about seeds

I love to buy seeds, especially zinnias. I plant hundreds of zinnia seeds every May, they always start to bloom June 30 and July 1, reliably. They come on one at a time, faster and faster like popcorn in the microwave. There is something so summery about bright hot colors in the garden, Cut and Come Again so far are the most reliable, best return.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Snow? Again?

It is hard to make plans these days, the weather is always screwing things up. In my job, we are always putting together events, which is maddening in winter.

So, since there is not always much else to do, I am planning my seed purchases, courtesy of my Burpee catalog. I love the way Burpee sends it along every year, a day or two before Christmas. I put it in my room and wait until I have time for it, days later. As I go through it, I want something from every page. Sometimes more than one thing. I (now) know better than to go wild ordering. For one thing, Burpee seeds are cheaper in Home Depot than from their own catalog. For another, seeds are not always easy to grow. Some annuals, like marigolds, are easy. Some perennials are, too, but it is usually faster to get cuttings or self sown plants.

But still, there is hope in just seeing the catalog, along with the extra minute or so of daylight we are gaining. Winter won't last forever, life will get easier again. So thanks, Burpee.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Packing Away the Holidays

The tree is down, most of the ornaments are packed, but I left up a lot of lights. I like lights. And the days are still damn short, even if longer than a week ago. So the little white lights are necessary to keep my spirits up. After all, there are several weeks, at least, before I'll be able to see any new life in the garden. So I'll watch a new DVD (Mamma Mia? Or The Office?) from Christmas, while I box up more stuff. I'll miss it, but Christmas always comes again.