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I really have nothing to say other than “the grass is green and the sky is blue,” but somehow that becomes important after the winter. The grass has been waking up, its color changing from a dull gray-green when it first emerged from its winter blanket into an aliveness that made me really notice it yesterday and today. I’m pretty indifferent to grass so this means something. And the sky, just the right note of lightness and transparency, not so full as in summer, not so tense as in winter. In winter a blue sky is out of place. But in spring–or, all right, in summer–it’s the norm, and I’m eager for it. Green grass and blue sky, I’ve never seen you before–not like this, not this year. Come and be welcome.
At some point in the past, I had a small plastic terrarium. I want to say it was a Happy Meal-type toy, but that seems rather grandiose and non-commercial for McDonald’s, so I probably got it somewhere else. Anyhow, I planted the seeds that came with it, saw with fascination how the water condensed on the lid even though there was a hole in it, and watched my plants grow.
I don’t remember what the plants were. I don’t think they were ultimately a success. But I was enjoying them. Then Mom suggested that we plant a different seed she happened to have–maybe a fruit seed, maybe a flower. At any rate, we put it in there, and in time it, too, pushed up a seedling, and I was delighted.
Then one day I came home from school and the new seedling was gone. I asked my dad if he knew what had happened. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I pulled it. I thought it was a weed!” I was indignant, but also amused, as was he, because how would you get a weed in a terrarium inside?
But now I think I know. Or at least I think I’m seeing it. The Striped Toga eggplant seedlings are doing well, but there was the one grasslike seedling I pulled out, and now there are two more that don’t look like the others–squat, fat cotyledons instead of long narrow ones. There are four long shoots growing out of my started strawberry containers, but I seriously doubt they’re strawberries–I only started them three days ago. I don’t know whether it’s the seed company (Pinetree Garden Seeds) or the soil, but I’ve got the feeling I have indoor weeds.
Come to think of it, I planted three wisteria seeds (at least, I’m pretty sure they’re wisteria–they’re off a plant in my parents’ yard; they moved last year and haven’t yet the plant in flower) in a pot, and today there are five seedlings in it. I’m thinking it’s a good thing I need to buy more potting soil.
I planted onions today. I didn’t mean to. It just…happened. I was in The Andersons, picking up broccoli and thyme and sunflower seeds (and, as it happened, a lush young rosemary plant that may well sit on my kitchen windowsill all summer rather than be planted outdoors in May), and I passed an endcap full of onion sets. White and yellow and red. Big netting bags for $1.49. How could I resist? I went with yellow, and once I got home I walked into my garden and determined that even if I plant ten tomato plants I’ll still have plenty of room near the south end of the garden, and planted my onions. A couple of rows of widely-spaced, shallow ones for bulbs, and a mass of tightly-packed, deep ones for green onions. I had some left over. I’ll try planting them next month to get a later green onion crop.
As I’ve spent more time in the garden I’ve been able to gauge exactly how much I’m going to be able to fit in, and I’m finding I have some extra space, extraordinary to what I’ve planned. I started a new compost pile in a particularly barren corner, where the pumpkin will go, and the rest may just lie fallow. Or perhaps I’ll put some sunflowers there. (I started the broccoli and thyme and sunflowers once I got done with the onions. The plan with the sunflowers is to use them as bean poles.) Or perhaps, like today, something will catch my eye and demand to be planted.
Today I was sewing wedding invitations. (I was only sewing the binding, the cover to the vellum–oh, never mind.) The eighth one defied me until my fifth try, when I discovered that I’d messed up anyhow and it was irreparable, and I threw it into the hall and decided to go outside.
On Friday, I had gone to Lowe’s for dirt and pots, and while there I had seen fruit trees, including winesap apples. Now, my fiance (Eric) and his mother both love winesaps. So I mentioned it when I got home. He, in turn, was hesitant to get an apple tree when we’re planning on moving in two years. “But maybe Mom would like one,” he said. “Since she’s probably going to stay in her house until she dies.” So he called her up, and–after she objected that she didn’t have room for two trees and we assured her that there were enough apple trees in the neighborhood to pollinate hers–we live in the same neighborhood so we know it’s true–she requested that we purchase one for her. So we went back to Lowe’s Saturday. We picked out a nice one. Then I noticed they had nectarine trees. “Do you want a nectarine tree?” Eric said. I said, reluctantly, “No. You don’t really like them.” He said, “You know, those peach trees are flowering, so they might get fruit this year.” So we bought a Red Haven peach, and when my invitation fury overcame me I went out to plant it.
We already have a pear tree in the yard (also an Asian pear in the garden), and we agreed that if we planted the peach tree somewhat near it and created an island in the backyard, there would still be room for kids (the next owners’, presumably) to run around but less grass for Eric to mow. “In fact, you could expand your garden to run the entire length of the backyard, behind it,” Eric suggested. “I wouldn’t mind at all.”
So I dug a neat hole where we agreed to put the tree, and spent a few minutes extracting dirt and worms from the grass to replace over its roots. For some reason, it makes me particularly happy to see the earthworms everywhere in my ground. For some reason I think it’s sterile and dead. I saw the weeds last summer; why would I think that?
The island itself is something I’ll be working on in the next several weeks, to be finished before the wedding (when everyone comes to see the new house). Also the flower beds, which I finished raking out–I started it last night and felt like Mary Lennox, clearing space around green spears poking out of the earth. And I planted peas and carrots, and spread some manure and humus. The garden is mostly bare, with some dead grass here and there (and a little alive under the Asian pear), and I’m going to be slowly transforming it into a vegetable garden–in pieces, as things need planting, since I’m not virtuous enough to spend a week just plain digging. But for a morning’s break, it’ll do.
This year, I’m finally in a house with a manageable yard, feeling good about things, having enough time, with a promise to take care of the yardwork because my fiance takes care of the mowing. And I’ve decided to start a garden. I’ve grown tomatoes on my apartment balcony (and then again in my house when I was too unhappy to care about them, and then again in this house when it was too late in the year and I was too occupied with fixing up the indoors and having just moved in with someone for the first time ever to properly care for the outside), but aside from helping my parents with their vegetable garden when I was young, I’ve never done my own gardening. But I’m reading up, and asking questions, and hoping to learn as I go.
Current status: I live in Toledo, OH, zone 5b. I have a nice house with a space behind the garage approximately the size of the garage, with a raised bed from the previous owner in the middle of it. Sadly, since I moved in late and didn’t care for the outdoors until fall, there was a jungle of weeds growing there, and I’m sure their babies await me this spring. I’ve started Striped Toga eggplant, Brandywine tomatoes, Taxi tomatoes, Genovese basil, globe basil (with an Italian name I can never remember), oregano, marigolds, and tomato and pepper seeds saved from last year indoors. Right now everything has sprouted at least a couple of seedlings except for the heirloom tomatoes and the globe basil, but now–as opposed to a few days ago when everything was still damp, bare potting soil–I have full confidence they will sprout. Mostly full. We’ll see how it goes. And outdoors, I’ve planted lettuce and spinach, four raspberry canes, and two blueberry bushes (in pots, with sulfur to acidify the soil–see, I’m learning!) in the garden, and a couple of bulbs in the side yard. I have plans for more. Much more.