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My greenhouse is on its side by the steps that go up to my back door, a ragged hole torn in its top. I guess I’ll be using it as a rack only once I’ve rescued it from the ice and snowdrifts. I haven’t emptied my compost bin (now grown to include a compost tub) in weeks, mainly because there’s a foot of snow covering the yard and I never want to pull on my boots and dump my containers. This is an even greater pity because I’ve been consuming vast quantities of citrus over the past several weeks. (“We should buy stock in grapefruit,” I told Eric. He laughed. But seriously, Sunkist stock might be a great buy if it were available.) Luckily dried grapefruit and orange peel doesn’t smell bad. It’ll have to get done soon, though.

Likewise, seed ordering needs to happen soon. I’m coming out of my first-trimester funk (partly because the nausea and tiredness are lessening, partly because the filthiness of my house has become worse than my disinclination for doing things) and realizing that broccoli seeds need to be started in two weeks (and maybe pepper seeds too, based on last year’s experience). This means I need to rework last year’s planting schedule for this year, too, and of course make sure I’ve actually got the seeds I want. Since broccoli is still not something I want to eat, I’m just going to use up the seeds I’ve got and hope that I’ll want to eat them by the time they’re ready. I’m going to try to be conservative in general with my garden planning for 2009–or at least, not too expansive. Especially in things that need starting inside. Though at least I’ll have a planting rack to use.


One of my best-beloved Christmas presents was A Field Guide to Surreal Botany. I heard about it several months ago and sent Eric an excited e-mail saying “I want this!” and apparently he remembered, which charms me. It’s a smaller book than I was expecting, maybe eight by five inches, but it’s full of amusement and wonder. In the “The Americas” section we have, for example, Baby Cabbage (Brassica homogenesis), with fruit in the shape of a human baby, found under the leaves; Forget-me-bastard, with a small aggressive movement and red glow especially against arguing human males but very loyal to their gardeners; kitty willows, in which the plants are dioecious and reproduction occurs when a small fuzzy “catkin” from a male and female tree find each other and burrow into the ground. (They’re excellent for controlling insect populations because the catkins play the insects to death.) I’m liking the Teslated Salishans a lot too, maybe because they’re native to Washington State.

No progress on seed catalogs. Maybe I’ll bring some with me this weekend–we’re going up to Troy, MI, for the ConFusion science fiction convention. There will be no garden content, but there will be a lot of books and science and fun. And if there were gardens, they would have things like the Wind Melon and the Atlantis Mandrake.

It occurred to me last night that it’s about time to be solidifying my seed orders. I haven’t thought about them since before Christmas. (Oh, how I have fallen.) I may want to wait until after the Toledo Seed Swap, at least for some things–I’m pretty confident of getting all the carrots and beets I want, based on last year’s experience, but I may or may not find particular herbs or onions or beans–though broccoli starts in February, as I recall. I’ve still got last year’s seed-planting chart up on my wall by my computer. I’m going to have to go through my notes and modify it appropriately for this year; I’m pretty sure that I’m going to have some sort of forgetfulness disaster if I don’t write it all down.

I did a seed swap with Carol not long ago, while our respective husbands played D&D, and got some yummy things, including some perennial herbs that I’ve been wanting. I really liked my nonculinary herbs last year–I loved the wormwood and feverfew especially–and I want to expand that part of the garden this year. I also sincerely hope the plants that are already there will survive. It was forbiddingly cold last week–highs of 5 and 8 degrees–but they were under a thick blanket of snow, so we’ll see what happens when the snow melts. If it does. I’m in that part of winter when I fear it will never end, even though I’m thinking about seeds.

I chopped down the lemon tree this afternoon. Including the lemons. They had scale on them. I should have realized that was going to happen, but I didn’t, and they were on the underside so I didn’t notice until I went to pick them. It’s possible I could eat the lemons anyway, but that seems unhygienic and I won’t. Into the garbage they’ll go, along with the poor fading leaves and bumpy branches. Here’s hoping it takes the winter to recover and rises again, with a new, bug-free start, in the spring.

I’m so hungry. And so tired. And so nauseated by the smell of brassicas. You probably know what this means: I’m pregnant–eleven weeks along and waiting for the second-trimester energy of which I hear so many good things.

And so I haven’t been posting much, or thinking much about gardening. Get this: the pictures in seed catalogs make me nauseated. Is this my body’s way of making sure I don’t spend so much money on gardening that I can’t afford diapers and baby wipes?

Flowers and even fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future.

Marion Zimmer Bradley