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I have done so much since last writing! I mean, not a lot objectively, but a lot for me for the garden for spring. I went to a neighborhood gardeners’ meet; I filled in part of the brick path; I replanted garlic (per a promise with Carol); I hardened off brassicas and alliums and marigolds; I planted up tomatoes; I started cucurbits and flowers and a seed-embedded Christmas card we got; I uprooted the wormwood and lemon balm; I watched the rain fall onto my garden and through my garage roof.

And I’d have written about some or all of it if I hadn’t gotten food poisoning. It was relatively mild, meaning I only threw up once and recovered in about two days. I don’t know what caused it, but i suspect some leftover bean dip. It was homemade bean dip, so I can’t even say anything about the sorry state of modern food hygiene. Pity, really.

So I will try to catch up over the next few days here. We’ll see how that goes, though, since the rain is finally supposed to stop and that means I may be able to get out and do the myriad things I’ve been intending to do outdoors. It also means that I’m going to have to brace myself for the new weeds grown up in the luxurious dampness, but I knew that was coming.

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Where did spring come from? Only a few days ago everything was drab and gray. When my mom arrived on the first she commented on how dead all the trees were (she lives in Washington, where evergreens are way more common than in Ohio). But a few days into her visit we looked at the blooming tulips and daffodils, and she moved some wild onion out of my beds (and took some daylilies for her own garden) and trimmed the budded branches of the raspberries. And today, when she left, the peach tree has a million blooms on it and there was a green mist among the trunks along the side of the freeway as we drove toward the airport. So quickly! And so welcome!

Damn, but those tomatoes got big while I was away. I left Saturday and came back today, and good grief. I called Eric Monday and had him water and rotate all my seedlings, and they seem to have survived. I’ve got Mexican sunflowers and tarragon and chamomile and Genovese basil coming up; the rest are still dormant but I’m reasonably hopeful. And the pear tree has flowered! And those tulips that I moved from the crowded spot by the driveway to the front flower bed last year turn out to be yellow! How nice it is to come home in the spring.

Six things started indoors today: two kinds of basil (same as last year, Mrs. Burns’ Lemon and Genovese), mullein, horehound, German chamomile, and American skullcap. You’d think that with a limited attention span I’d stick to food crops, but apparently not. I turn out to have this thing for perennial herbs. I love the way the wormwood and hyssop and chives and feverfew have greened upthe herb garden this spring without my having to do anything.

I have more herbs to start, all culinary–tarragon, cumin, summer savory, catmint (and more parsley, if the outdoor stuff doesn’t come up). I may or may not start some cucumbers and melons indoors–we’ll see how I feel about it in a couple of weeks. I do need to start more cotton: I’m growing it in pots anyway, since I know from last year I’ll need to bring it in at the end of the season, so I might as well start it now.

It’s supposed to rain until Thursday. Here’s hoping it perks up the carrots and lettuce and convinces them to come above ground. I’ll have to see whether the onions got washed away, too, and how the weeds are coming along. The weeds seem to be doughtier this year than last…I wonder if that’s because I’m already dreading doing it or because I was just really bad about weeding last year. I sense a potentially ever-escalating problem here. I guess that’s the problem with a cyclical hobby like this: the same issues crop up, year after year. Luckily, so do the same charms: the blooms below the pear tree, the buds on the pear and peach trees, the vivid blueness of the pulmonaria, the valiant ever-spreading raspberry suckers. (Theoretically this last is a problem rather than a charm, but I didn’t get nearly enough raspberries last year.)

Planted today: Siberian and Red Russian kale; Little Caesar, Freckles, Buttercrunch, Lolla Rossa, and Cimarron lettuce; Monnopa and Baby’s Leaf x Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach; Hamburg Rooted parsley; mustard greens; komatsuna; choy sum; rocket; Detroit Dark Red and Chioggia beets; Red-Cored Chantenay and Olds’ Science Fiction Mix carrots; Hollow Crown parsnips; and flat-leaf parsley.  It’s been four dry days and it’s supposed to rain tonight, so it seemed like a good time. And it was; I remember liking this planting thing.

Pulled today: the year’s first weeds. Also a lot of last year’s last ones. I don’t expect to be any better with weeding this year–much worse, in fact. I’d start thinking about heavy mulch, or landscaping fabric (ugly as it is), if I could afford it. As it is, I know that I got a decent crop last year even without weeding, so…c’est la vie.

Watered today: the broccoli indoors, which is growing well despite my letting it get bone-dry. The cauliflower has just sprouted, but the solanaceae are still dormant.

Noticed today: the lilac tree has buds and the grass is starting to grow again.

Just so you know: the trick of freezing fresh herbs in a little water in ice cube trays? Works wonderfully. The other night I made a quinoa salad that normally has fresh tomatoes, dill, parsley, basil, and cilantro in it–I had to skip the tomatoes, of course, and the cilantro because I couldn’t find any (I can’t remember whether I froze any at all or if I used it all for pesto), but I used frozen dill, parsley, and basil and the salad tastes fabulous. Maybe even better, since I’m snatching a little summer from the jaws of winter. Well, spring technically–there are crocuses in my yard now, so I’m willing to concede that it might actually happen.

Started yesterday: Nankeen brown cotton, Erlene’s Green cotton, indigo.

Planted yesterday: quinoa (from the store). They may however be all gone because when I went into the vegetable garden this afternoon I startled an awful lot of birds.

Started today: lemon cucumber, Straight 8 cucumber, Parade cucumber, Yellow Scallop squash.

Planted today: Zahra hybrid summer squash (because I just can’t wait! And the ten-day forecast looks good! And I have plenty more seeds for when they freeze or fail to come up!)

Dug today: a bed by the side of the garage, destined for sunflowers and maybe daisies; a DMZ between the herb garden and the grass, at Eric’s desire, for turning the lawnmower around in. I want to grow Irish moss there, because we saw a six-pack of it at Meijer and thought it would make a great lawn someday when we have lots of money, and it would be nice to grow it now and see what it’s like (plus maybe get some seeds?).

Petted today: a tabby cat who apparently enjoys rolling in my scallions and skulking along the narrow paths in the herb garden.

Noticed today: a luffa sprout is up; an onion I left in the vegetable garden last year has sprouted; the bindweed and grass are growing faster than I like; the farmer’s market turnip I planted is already starting a flower stalk; the red, pink, and green trees I can see from the herb garden are breathtaking in their transient beauty.

I had a $75 gift card for Amazon, courtesy of a market research interview I did. Eric wanted to use it for purchasing his Fourth Edition D&D books, but I said we were spending at least as much on me as we were on him. So he got his books preordered and I have an Ingrid Michaelson CD, Local Breads by Daniel Leader (sourdough and whole-grain European breads), and Seed to Seed. I notice the peach tree is now blooming in two colors, and I dug and raked the last of the garden beds today because it’s the last nice weather we’ll have for a while–back we go to our regular spring weather–but that’s all. Must go now. Reading.

I’m feeling highly anxious. Last week was a week of crazy clients at work, and this week is shaping up to be the same, plus one of my coworkers is on vacation so I’ve got about 33% more to do. Eric’s having health problems due to medication he’s taking and is going to attempt to lower his dosage by himself, so I’m on changed-behavior watch. (He’s also getting an appointment with his doctor soon.) My brother’s having a second attack of pancreatitis and has no insurance, though his boss is being extremely kind by getting him on the program in a couple of weeks, earlier than company policy dictates. Also, it’s that time of month.

Tonight, I am starting seeds, and–more importantly, I think–I’m going outside and trimming bushes, raking leaves, turning compost, getting my jeans dirty. If it’s not absolutely pouring or dark, I am doing this: not because my yard needs it, but because I do. I am also looking forward to my evening exercise session, which is not something I do often (I mean, look forward to it, though I haven’t been doing the exercise as often as I ought, either). As my friend says about her baking habit, it’s cheaper than therapy.

I want to be out in the mud, hearing the occasional bird twitter, noticing the early spiders (why does it have to be spiders?) skittering along the old leaves, feeling the cold air crawl up my sleeves and under my collar. I want to expend some energy to make things better, neater, more alive. We make gardens for ourselves, anyway, not for nature or the neighbors or the resale value of the house. I don’t care if spring has come or not. It’s time to garden.

I fertilized yesterday. It was windy and cold, that last (I hope) bite of winter saying “Remember me; I’ll be back,” and I have no watering can. I filled up my soil-wetting container (an aluminum pot I bought at Goodwill for dyeing yarn before learning that aluminum containers are a bad idea for dyeing) with the fertilizer mixture and practiced on the indoor plants–I don’t know that they need it, since I bought seed-starting soil with fertilizer in it and I added regular potting soil when I repotted last week, but it can’t hurt…right?–and then refilled it and hauled it outside. The blueberries and raspberries were first, since I’m worried about them–the blueberries especially. I also spread more leaves over the raspberries. I’ve read that this can harm plants because as they finish decomposing they pull away nitrogen from the roots, but this is on the top of the soil, slightly away from the plants themselves, so I’m hoping it’ll be okay. If not, well, they were cheap. And I fertilized the carrots and greens and peas, adding extra water to the carrots in the hopes that they’ll take the hint and grow. After all this water application, I expected it to rain, but it didn’t. Perhaps that only works with straight watering.

This weekend, I’ll be starting cucumbers (if my seeds ever come) and zucchini and cantaloupe and squash, and planting out my broccoli and some Swiss chard seeds. The broccoli starts are kind of spindly, and I don’t know how they’ll do–but I may as well try. The Swiss chard I picked up on impulse while buying the salad, but now that I’ve read up on it I’m really happy I got it. It’s healthy! It’s pretty! It tastes like spinach! It’s easy to grow! So there will be a row between the broccoli and the beans (or the space where the beans will be, anyway). I’m so glad it’s warm enough to think about planting.

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

Marion Zimmer Bradley

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