Little deaths and happy days.

Not those kind of little deaths.

These kind.

From thinking in my foggy ill-again head that leaving the plastic cover on, outside on the sunny porch, would save moisture. It did. It cooked them in a hot sauna.

Oops.

A setback of a few weeks I’ll foggily attempt to start anew tomorrow.

And these.

I’ve been trying sprouted grains and seeds to see how much I can get grains back into my life. The first few rounds were deliciously successful. These pumpkin seeds, and their other flora counterparts, were destined for not-granola granola bars. They ended in the compost this morning after my Does Not Smell Bad Smells Nose nudged my mouth to ask, “hey honey, does this smell like rot to you?”

Retrying those will have to wait for another trip to the store that has the bulk section.

But in happy news, this came today (or at least, I received it today as we are both lackadaisical about checking the mailbox.)

Also in happy news, it was gorgeous outside. And I had two eager little soccer kickers to play with me.

A cool night.

Down to 88° F! I almost need long sleeves. (You think I’m joking…)

I heard on the radio the other day that ~130 days per year here have a heat index over 90° F as the high. Somehow this both surprised me to learn (after 16 years here) as well as soothed me to know. (I did move here for sunshine, after all.)

I ordered a new toy, which I only discovered the name of after 10+ failed attempts at search terms to find it from witnessing one in a video.

And am experimenting… any favored soil blocker receptacles? Or tips for watering them without them crumbling?

Ten cauliflower sowed. Tens more to go.

A tomato slow down

And a pepper pick-me-up.

Almost on cue, the garden is packing it in for the summer. The tomato vines are drying up. Some fruit ripens on brown vines. Other fruit dehydrates where it hangs. 

With some help and a helper’s chipper, any soil exposed by the dying crops is now mulched by the gift of a fallen limb.

It may be a bit early, but I couldn’t help myself. I have the first of the fall crop transplants sown in plugs in the laundry room. 

The outdoor oven (aka the weather) has begun. Perhaps I’ll set aside some corn stalks for Halloween. They’re drying where they stand quite nicely.

Beginning…

Folks are posting this week on the theme of beginnings. Anywhere their minds may wander from there is allowable. The word “beginning” sure lends itself to mind-wandering on my part…or perhaps that’s the ninja dance party in my belly these days causing the wandering…

It is the beginning of a new year, after all, and the beginning of a new season’s garden plotting. The mail box has shifted from holiday cards to seed catalogs. My drool-inducers have shifted from mac ‘n cheese to photograph after photograph of plant porn. (Ok, I lied, I will still drool over homemade mac n’ cheese…) My dining room table has let go of the wrapping paper and ribbon station and moved on to the inventorying of current stock.

The beginning ebbs and flows. Is the beginning the seed catalogs arriving? Or when I begin drafting on graph paper? Or when I pour the seed starter from the bag into the trays and smooth out the surface?

For today, let’s say the beginning is pulling out my seed stock and reacquainting myself with old favorites and rekindling excitement over new experiments to come.
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Things I learned from this beginning? For still not liking to eat tomatoes (I try to like them every year, I do!) I sure have a lot of tomato seeds…*cough* twenty-three varieties…*cough*

Bees and seeds

DH and I were talking about the internet the other day. These days, it’s hard to “run out of internet.” There is so much of it to begin with, in addition to the social aspect, the interactive pieces, and the dangerous Bermuda triangle that is Wikipedia that it’s easy enough to waste away an afternoon just click-click-clicking.

When we first met, you could still quite easily “run out of internet.” If you ran out of questions you needed answered or topics to read up on, you were done. That, and there just wasn’t the sheer volume of content on the internet then that there is now, never mind any social media rabbit holes to fall down.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet. I work on it all day. I use it on my phone exponentially more often than I use my phone to actually call people. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been out with friends, someone has forgotten the name of a movie or street of a restaurant recommendation and the comment has been made: “You know, you have a phone for that. Look it up.”

I just wonder how much of our lives might be spent doing time-wasting things that don’t do anything or help us be anything. When I’m sixty, I won’t remember that funny meme I just saw. Or maybe I will. But I hope I have more memories of people and moments and adventures than I do of content I witnessed through a screen. (I’m rambling. Through a screen.)

However, I love gardening for how it roots me back down to what I do love about the internet. The blanket flowers bloom nearly year-round in my garden. They attract the honey and bumble bees, the birds and the butterflies. Recently, they attracted a new bee in a shiny black coat that I didn’t know. I pulled out my phone, searched, and learned right there in my garden – a carpenter’s bee.

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Then, if I so desired, I could dig more deeply and possibly discover which of the 500 possible species of carpenter’s bee had paid a visit to my flower bed. Or not. (I chose not.)

The other sort of learning I love best about gardening, is the learning of discovery. Experiential knowledge has always stayed in my brain much more concretely than other sorts. I’d known about onions. I’d known about their blossoms. I’d known about their seeds. What I hadn’t known was how their blossoms transformed into seeds. Did the seeds come with parachutes like dandelions and lettuce? Did they come in shells akin to sunflowers? Nope. They grow in pods more like larkspur and flax. Now just to learn how to get onions from young sprout to sturdy start…

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Caring for the wee ones.

When sprouting indoors from seed, quite often the light comes from one direction. My tomato sprouts shall demonstrate:

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I rotated them last night when they were facing the other way. They’ll get rotated 90 degrees tomorrow.

Nearly all of the tomato sprouts are up now. They usually appear one to three at a time until the ones that are going to germinate at all have done so. The ground cherries have yet to make an appearance.

The peppers, absent last night entirely, have almost all risen in unison today. Here are two emerging from their seed casings.

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The leaves will open more, discarding the seed’s exterior to the soil.

Onions don’t have two seed leaves like many veggies do, and end up hanging onto their seeds for quite awhile.

Onion sprouts start like little wriggly, white, worms.

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There’s one in the middle there, blending in nonchalantly, and another along the top edge.

The root end takes a few days to take hold, and as it’s working on that, the sprout elongates.

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With the root end more firmly gripping the earth, the sprout musters its wee strength and starts to stretch for the sun.

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At this stage, they are kind of comical. Bending this way, twisting around, seed ends getting stuck on other sprouts nearby…they amuse me a fair bit with their antics.

The air is dry here lately. A few weeks without rain, little humidity, and clear nights has the static up and the soil gasping quickly between waterings. I’m watering now by gently pouring small amounts near the sprouts. I don’t want to drown them, or soak the soil, but misting with my spray bottle won’t last 12 hours in these conditions.

I am getting antsy to put the seeds in the garden next weekend. Today was intended as a soil amendment day, but both Plan A and Plan B for adding compost and manure were a bust. Hopefully it comes together tomorrow so I can have it piled and ready as a weekday evening project this week.

Thing I learned today? 

– Beets aren’t something to start inside, but should be direct sown like other root veggies. So sayeth the package.

Any activity in your growth this week? Any prep work to be done or planting you’re (im)patiently waiting to do?