There’s an ice day today.

Schools are closed all day. Some businesses and government offices are as well. Last year there was a day where nothing closed, the ice storm did actually start right during morning rush hour, and there were hundreds of accidents. So now the city is laughably gun shy. Looks pretty slippery out there to me. What do you think?

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I mean, it did get chilly. Down into the 20s even. Our windows aren’t the best, so I thought these delicate little folks should take a break from the kitchen windowsill and make their way to the island for the night.
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Almost again.

I almost forgot to water the seedlings. Again. There are spikes in the neediness of work. A flux in the hours I spend around people, in front of a screen, or rarely anymore – scribbling notes to myself on paper in a hand few can decipher. This past week has been one such spike. Three weeks prior, I downloaded an app to my phone that tracks usage. It was part of a social experiment called Bored and Brilliant. I’m not sure how much I contributed to their experiment, but I do know that simply downloading the app has made me more aware of time spent diddling on my phone instead of doing things I, you know, actually want to be doing.

Let’s just say that there’s a little monk that provides encouragement and feedback, and last week he had tears running down his face while he begged me to put my phone down. But such is work sometimes. (Othertimes he smiles, hugs himself, and let’s me know he appreciates my taking it easy.)

So among all the monk feedback and work madness, I nearly forgot to water the seedlings. Again. But they were still moist, and were ready for the light to inch up slightly higher, and had more friends in the neighboring plugs. The aspects of gardening I find most successful in the days since becoming a mother are those that succeed under a “set it and forget it” plan of action. I’ve begun building a compost pile (as opposed to feeding the spinning barrel composter DH gave me as a gift years back) and building it smack dab where I want a perennial bed. Why not? If I can get it to cook where I want to serve it (so to speak) I won’t have to find the time to shovel and haul and spread it.

I did manage to pull and burn more grass weekend before last, which was satisfying. Anytime the world feels off-kilter, I know that I either need sweat running over a pounding heart or dirt cramming under the nails of fingers building calloused skin. Or a nap. Occasionally all it takes is a nap to set the world right again.

So I continue to marvel in the child who grows like a loved upon weed and allow the new beds I wish to build, the grass I wish to pull, and the plants I wish to invite into my space…to wait.

She really is growing like the most beautiful creature I could imagine. And all of my gratitude for that erases any itch I can’t scratch in the time I do muster together to work on calluses or dirty up my nails.

So instead of any pictures from recent days let’s take a peek at Februaries past…

2012 –
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2013
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2014
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It’s a squash, it’s a cucumber, it’s a…melon?

I started a strawberry bed last fall. There’s a six inch deep, eight inch wide, and twenty foot long concrete trough between the foundation of the house and the sidewalk in the backyard. With strawberry’s tendency to take over the bed they’re in, I figured the concrete cage would keep them in check. (I later learned they simply crawl over sidewalks, but that’s another story.)

I gave them straw mulch over the winter, some sand and compost in the spring, and they gave me strawberries from January through last month.

The compost also gave me some volunteers. A few tomatoes that gave up at 18″ tall, a pepper sprout or five that keeled over at 5″, and what is either purslane or a weed I don’t know yet.

Another volunteer it gave was what I assumed was a squash. It started with the dark green split leaf sprout of squashes. But then it started to hint that maybe it wasn’t a squash.

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It wasn’t hurting the strawberries, so I waited to see what it would do next.

This six inch by eight inch trough was also where I planted a little $2 sage plant from the grocery store. “It’ll make a nice 1′ by 2′ sidewalk edge plant,” I thought. “It’ll smell nice,” I thought. “We can cook with it all the time,” I thought. (I was right on two of those thoughts. The thing has been pruned multiply times and is still about three feet tall, six feet wide, and three feet deep…)

The volunteer I now assumed to be a cucumber made its way into the sage…
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And then the rains came. Our spring was great for gardening, as I’d mentioned. And by great, I mean that we actually had a spring. That lasted for months instead of days. Even our summer was postponed and when in previous years we’d already had 24 days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we’d only had 6. The rains that came soaked the strawberries with purpose and a vengeance. The strawberries laid down in surrender.

In doing so, they revealed a treasure (and ruled out cucumbers…)
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No one in this house eats watermelon or honeydew. I think it must be some variety of muskmelon/cantaloupe…that looks like a watermelon. Which variety of melon…is the final mystery of this detective novel.

Seasons are as seasons do.

On my trip this week to Houston I couldn’t help but notice the corn was higher than my head, with the tassels starting. Where I grew up there were corn farmers (and grass seed farmers, Christmas Tree farmers, cherry and peach and berry farmers…) and those farmers are just sowing their corn for the season now. 

Some years I have tomatoes by now, and this year I don’t. Some years the strawberries don’t have a chance to fruit well for the early onslaught of heat, this year they did (and continue to do so.)
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Seasons in Texas are measured two ways – in the classic four seasons (which are measured by what the calendar says it should be) and in the Texas weather way (Not Hot, Beautiful, Hot, Thunderstorm Season, Beautiful, repeat.) 

Depending on whether the storms come, or the heat is early or late, the plants do as their coding dictates. This keeps us gardeners on our toes! Not for late frosts or lack of sunlight, but for baked seedlings or flooded fruit. 

 

The backyard this year is the usual mixture of expectations met and seasonal surprises. Like finding more strawberries this morning. Or finding that this fern, so lush and happy in March…
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…is now gone without a trace.

Or that these plums just setting fruit in March…
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…have started to turn.
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Then there’s the Monster Chard that has been keeping you in gigantic leaves of green since October was discovered by the hungry hundred caterpillars.
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And the Forgotten Beet that made the most delicious “french fries” (thanks to DH’s talents.)
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Which reminds me, I need to not forget about the Onion Rope. The instructions on the internet conflicted with those in a book, which weren’t terribly clear. We’ll see how it goes, but it may just be that DH eats them all before they reach a questionable storage age anyway. (Onions being yet another food I enjoy growing but do not enjoy eating.)
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