I’d like to thank the academy…

I missed the Oscars this year. I’m not the biggest fan. I have never attended a party for the Oscars like folks do on occasion. But I do enjoy the inventive dresses and the sincerity of gratitude in speeches. I like watching folks have fun and it generally appears as though they do. That, and not watching commercials leaves me rather out of touch with any movies that have come out in the past however long and they show nice clips of each film. It’s like a fashionable comedy show full of trailers and gratitude.

But I missed it this year. Only the backstage cameras were streaming online for free. We have had cable television twice before. For three weeks back in 2006 wherein we watched one movie and cancelled the subscription, and for six months twelve years ago when it was included in our rent payment and we couldn’t afford any other form of entertainment most of the time. We had an antenna for a few years, but the roof on this house is so very high and well, #becausebabies.

I’m rambling.

I won an award. The friendly and thoughtful NovaScotiaRoots awarded me a prize. As a result, I am honored and am to answer ten questions:

1) Favorite flower
Pride of Barbados became my favorite flower in August of 2003 behind a Taco Bell in Phoenix, Arizona during a gasoline shortage. I was fortunate enough to have my camera handy and mindful enough to use it that day to capture this photo.
DSC_0024
I didn’t learn its name for eight years.
It’s become quite popular in the past four years and can be found in many landscapes around Central Texas these days.

2) Favorite veggie
Oh, man. Really? Ummm…that’s hard. To eat? I don’t know that I can choose. To grow? Also…eesh. I like them all! Let’s pretend I chose one and move along.

3) Favorite garden picture (insert it if you can)
This isn’t my garden, or even a garden really at all, but each May in parcels of the valley around where I spent my teenage years there are fields of red clover to take the breath away and replace it with an awe of the magic in the world.

Red Clover near my folks’ house

4) Favorite season
Summer in the Pacific Northwest. The fields are brown, the trees are green, the air is hot and dry all day and crisp and cool all night. The streams gush with melted snow and the music is always perfect for the windows down on back roads.

5) Biggest defeat in your garden
Growing non-veggies from seed. Herbs and flowers have a much steeper learning curve and I’ve yet to take the time to study. Thanks to a the lovely and talented author of Palm Rae Urban Potager I have a new toy book to play with read all about such matters.
DSC_0020

6) Biggest challenge in your garden
Climate. But that is probably pretty common, no matter the climate. I suppose unless it’s soil. It gets hotter than hot here, for longer than long. “Full sun” means “morning sun” here and with the heat comes the need for water through a constant drought. Hot peppers need shade cloth before July is over simply to stay alive. They won’t produce again until September usually if I can keep them alive through the summer months.

7) Your next big project
I’m six months into my first big project at the new house. Time moves differently with a little one and what I previously would’ve been able to accomplish in two weekends will take the better part of a year, I think. The project? Building the vegetable garden.

8) Your gardening partner you are most grateful for
For all of the tough questions, this one is a no-brainer. My DH is the best gardening partner I could ask for. He’s full of great ideas, solid instincts, and is no stranger to hard work. He was the main caretaker for the garden all last year spring when I was pregnant, arranged a weekend of garden building for my birthday this year, and helps me remember to keep the sprouts alive these dark winter days. Yesterday was our twelfth anniversary. He rarely gets me red roses (not to say he rarely gets me flowers, for that would be an untruth.) But sometimes, and he knows just when, they really hit the spot.
DSC_0018

9) Your favourite quote
As a bit of a quote-a-holic, this is also a tough question! I have a few that I keep handy to remind me of what I find important. I’ll share some of those:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
― Walt Whitman

Ok, I must stop here, because if I don’t, I’ll be posting quote after quote as though I were planting them to thin later.

10) What are you grateful for?
It’s interesting you ask this. I’ve recently taken on a personal challenge to be consciously grateful (and somehow put that gratitude forth) every day. I’m grateful for the health and happiness that there is in the world, and the patience, hope, and healing where there isn’t health or happiness. I’m grateful for blue skies when they come and rain that is deep and short. For earth to dig in and songs to sing. For my memories and my future, my family and my friends, and all of the wondrous creatures that make up this beautifully weird world we live on.

Seeds ordered!

I ordered seeds last night for my next garden. Among the new varieties include melons, winter squash, and strawberries which are all new to me and my garden.

Today I broke ground on adding another 50 square feet to my 5′ x 20′ bed. It’s wet and muddy work this time of year. The grass and weeds dislodge easily in the damp soil with my spading fork. The heavy clay clings to the prongs. Every few pries requires clearing the tool with the side of the sole of my shoe. After about 10 square feet. I’m ready for a different task.

Digging a new bed is hard labor, and it’s been nearly a year since I last did the work. It will be nice to get back into “gardening shape” but it will take time, so 10 square feet at a time is it for now.

I moved back to the rear fence to continue removing the vines that had taken deep root there. There had been a two foot span of earth, between a chain link fence and a privacy fence. It had come to fill with vines, leaves, and other debris over the last decade, I assume. My lovely other half had removed the chain link two weeks ago and begun removal of the hackberries and more intertwined vines. He was busy wrestling, literally, with a toilet repair project so I thought to lend a hand.

I finished by using my new Hori Hori to uproot a handful of volunteer Red Romaine, Green Oakleaf, and Black Simpson heads to move the out of harm’s way (in the path of the garden plot expansion) and into the garden.

After cleaning my spade, spading fork, and hori hori, it was time to go indoors for a snack of diced strawberries and yogurt.

Things I learned today, thanks to The Heirloom Life Gardener:

  1. Do not compost tomato plants (oops!) Apparently the diseases that afflict tomato plants build up in the garden over time. Best to burn or toss.
  2. Only mist carrot seeds for germination. A full watering will prevent sprouting. (This explains my 2% germination rate across five varieties from three seed companies this fall.)
  3. Squash bugs are as hard to kill organically as I’d come to discover. Well, poo.