It’s been gently snowing here all day. Nothing is sticking but it’s freezing cold and the fountain is rock solid again. The heater in the greenhouse is clicking on and off in an attempt to keep the chill off some perennial flowers that I sowed. And the Calvolo Nero seeds that I sowed last week are popping through regardless. They don’t care about the snow.
And this? This is my sign of Springtime that will keep me going throughout the next month.
In the bleak mid winter. It’s certainly bleak in my garden. I’m still clearing and I’m still cleaning. I read a good tip the other day for gardening in general. Take a picture of your garden in winter so you can see where you need to put some ‘winter interest’ plants. That’s something I need to do. I’d like something pretty with berries just underneath my window so I can watch the birds. Stay warm!
“I don’t take photos of people’ – that’s what I told them when they asked me to do this photoshoot for the 2014 Master Gardener recruitment campaign here in Portland. And it’s true! I’m happy taking photos of Cabbages, Tomatoes, whole Chard plants and even rows of Peas, but people? Well, I try to keep them out of it, if I can. You see I’m not so confident with portraits and being a bit of a coward I avoid things I’m not good at.
But they worked their magic on me and I said yes. So I turned up with my little bag of lenses (take them all I thought, you never know when you might need a Macro lens for this kind of work!). Of course I don’t own a flash or any lighting gear (Cabbages don’t need fill-in). And I tried to look like I knew what I was doing.
The models were very nice. The light was the biggest problem we had. The sun kept appearing and giving people a nice angelic halo every now and again. The box was heavy! And surprisingly difficult to hold straight.
But we managed to have a laugh. And…I’m pretty happy with the photos I took. Shocked would be a better word. So if you do see these photos as part of a Master Gardener campaign around the city you’ll know they were taken by me. The one who doesn’t do people :)
The moss, it is a-growing.
This is Montgomery, or Monty to you and I. Believe it or not he is actually a puppy. He’s a mere 6 months old. No really, he is. He’s a Great Dane and nowhere near fully grown.
If you could have the pleasure of watching him ‘help’ me in the garden then you would know he was a puppy straight away. He chews everything. And by everything I do mean everything. Marigold flowers, Peas (he loves Peas), my handmade wooden plant tags, my rubber kneeling pad, empty plant pots, full plant pots, absolutely anything bound for the compost bin, the handle of my wheelbarrow (it’s the wooden bit), my gardening gloves, a bag of Perlite, or Dolomite Lime. Heck! he’s not fussy.
Pathways? He laughs at them. Hose heads? He wrestles them. Hedges? He sleeps on them. The garden is his playground and boy does he have fun. He bounds (it’s not really a run) from one end to the other with little regard for vegetation, small children or other animals. He’s all muscle and very little sense. That’s Monty.
But I love his little sad eyes and jaunty ears. He’s my big ole garden buddy and is always interested in what I’m doing. He follows me around looking for something to be naughty with. And after about 20 minutes flops down and has a nap because gardening really does take it out of you. Especially, when you’re only six months old.
A few nights ago my Master Gardeners group had a movie night at their vegetable demo garden. We slung an old canvas over a frame, rigged up a projector and plonked our camping chairs in the grass. There were treats to share including freshly popped corn and we all settled down to listen to the crickets and watch Truck Farm.
It was a tounge-in-cheek documentary about a guy from Brooklyn who, in the absence of any actual garden, planted a kitchen garden in the back of his truck. He then proceeded to sell the produce to New Yorkers by driving to their house and letting them pick their own.
It was a very amusing film. I highly recommend seeing it. It was entertaining, inspirational, happy and a bit sad but ultimately happy. And the whole thing was narrated in song by two musicians who kept popping in and out of the scene.
After the film was over we all helped pack up and carry things to people’s cars. All-in-all a very enjoyable evening spent with new gardening friends.
You can watch the Truck Farm trailer on You Tube but you have to pay to see the actual film.
I love volunteering in other people’s gardens because they always have great ideas that I could never come up with myself. These ideas come from the Washington county Master Gardeners demo garden. This is a bean support made out of an old bicycle wheel.
These old coffee cans serve three purposes to keep out slugs, keep warmth in and help direct water to the roots.
This anti-cat device deters cats from pooping in the garden.
This bean wigwam is open at one side so that the kids can play in it. So simple.
The Cabbages have really crept up on me this year. It seems like yesterday that I was wondering if they would heart up or not and then today I realised that at least one of them was ready to harvest. The others are not far behind. So I cut one Cabbage and pulled a few Carrots too and we made Coleslaw – it was oh so sweet!
It’s interesting how fresh vegetables taste a lot sweeter than older vegetables. That’s because plants make sugars when they photosynthesise (they use carbon dioxide and water to make energy). The energy is sugar in the form of glucose, fructose and sucrose. These are then stored in the plant. So the quicker you eat them, the sweeter they will taste. It’s more obvious with vegetables like Sweetcorn and Carrots and less obvious with leafy crops like Lettuce and Spinach.
I’m not really a big ‘dessert’ person but I do normally crave something sweet after a meal, even if it’s only a cube of dark chocolate. But after last night’s dinner I didn’t. I was satisfied with the sweetness of the Cabbage and Carrots.
The Cabbage variety is Parel and the Carrots are Scarlet Nantes. The Carrots were sown direct in about March and the Cabbages were raised from seed in the greenhouse and planted out in early Spring.
I liked this Cabbage variety so much that I immediately sowed some more for the Winter vegetable garden.
Heading home from a lovely time at Chelsea Flower Show. There seemed to be lots of Strawberries in unusual places this year. But the show gardens were as lovely as ever. I’ll post some more photos soon. But for now here’s a photo of some berries in some old boots. And some stuffed in an old suitcase!
While visiting family in Fort Collins, Colorado I watch Grandpa Roy plant some Potatoes. It was interesting and educational.
He roto-tilled the ground and then added some fertilizer called Bradfield Lawn and Garden.
Then he added some Alfalfa pellets. Alfalfa is about 3-0-3 so provides some Nitrogen and Potassium. It’s also a soil conditioner because it has lots of organic matter in it and expands once it gets wet. Roses love it too and you can even put it in the compost pile to speed things up. Sweet!
There were already some Onions in the ground and they had been planted through black fleece to keep the weeds at bay since Onions resent having their roots disturbed by weeding.
It’s so interesting watching someone else work in their garden. Everyone does it differently. And everyone figures out how to grow successfully in their little pocket of the world. There is no right and wrong way. There is only a good harvest.