Archive for March, 2011

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march has been one ferocious lion

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

The weekend is drawing to a close. It was been quite lovely to relax and recover at home. My back is feeling a lot better. I did cleaning and vacuuming yesterday while Craig attacked the dishes in the sink. I also managed 4 loads of laundry.

I did go running yesterday finally, and had a solid 5K on the treadmill. I didn’t do any serious work in the garden this weekend besides watering my blueberry bushes and seeds. I did pull away the leaf cover here and there to see what else is growing.

sprouting tulips

Up come the Fire of Love tulips!

These Fire of Love tulips are so cool because the leaves start out this amazing violet red color. And they are striped. As they grow and get more and more sun, the color on the leaves fades. But for now they look so wonderful bursting out of the soil in the front flower garden!

As for the Spring weather, well, it is ridiculously windy and chilly here in southern New Hampshire. The temp reached just 41°F today, but with the wind it felt so much colder. I was so content to just snuggle on the couch watching college basketball.

In Craig’s words: March went in like a lion, gave birth to a little lamb for a day, and then the lion went and ate the lamb.

That about sums it up.

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Posted in Household Management 101, The Growing Season | 2 Comments »

signs of spring

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Yes, it snowed out today. Nothing really accumulated, but it did snow nonetheless. Even though Spring is here, Mother Nature is taking it realllll nice and slow this year.

But there are signs in the yard and garden that Spring is unfolding.

sprouting croci

The croci are sprouting in my front garden. Will they actually flower this year?

sprouting hyacinth

Here comes a hyacinth!

first flower

The first flowers are beginning to bud in the front garden!

spring robins

Hello, robins. Welcome back. I have been waiting for you.

And yes, that is a soccer ball that got left out in the yard all Winter. And now it is in a sad state. Along with our lawn. As soon as it warms up, we will be out raking and thatching the lawn, hoping we can breathe new Spring life into it.

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Posted in The Growing Season | 2 Comments »

where to find heirloom and organic seeds

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Now that I have started planting a few seeds to get this growing season going, I definitely have seeds on the brain. What else do I want to plant this year?

If you are looking for seed inspiration, there are more than a few great sites out there with online seed catalogs just brimming with incredible heirloom and organic varieties. You can find vegetable seeds, herb seeds, flower seeds, transplants, and more! Just when I thought I couldn’t get more excited about a melon or a potato, it has happened.

Here are some of my favorite seed sites:

Seed Savers Exchange
Seeds of Change
Comstock
Baker Creek Rare Seeds
Park Seed Co.
Stellar Seeds

If you have a favorite seed catalog/company, please let me know and I will add it to the seed inspiration list!

So I’ve just about narrowed it down for this year. I think I will indeed order some organic tomatillo seeds. I really enjoyed making salsa verde with them last year, and I would like to continue experimenting.

tomatillo

Tomatillo, Green Husk OG (Physalis ixocarpa) from Seed Savers Exchange

I also tried ground husk tomatoes or ground cherries for the first time last year. Super sweet and yet bursting with a subtle kick of tartness here and there. I may consider growing ground cherries with my tomatillos.

ground cherries

Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly's OG (Physalis pruinosa) from Seed Savers Exchange

Lettuce see… (I couldn’t help myself)… there are some really lovely lettuce seed mixes that I am also interested in. We grew lettuce for the first time last year, and it went really well. I’m thinking perhaps this organic lettuce mix.

lettuce mix

Lettuce Salad Bowl Mix Organic (Lactuca sativa) from Park Seed Co.

So many choices and options… but I have to place my order this week. Especially if I want enough time to start my tomatillos and ground cherries indoors. They can be started from seed indoors about 6–8 weeks before transplanting them to the garden after the danger of last frost has passed (end of May for New Hampshire).

Time to make some seed decisions!

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Posted in The Growing Season | 3 Comments »

spring! forward and oh, my back…

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Spring is here! So wonderful. And oh, what a complete mess I am.

Where to begin? So I finished up watching my nephew on Sunday, and after my older sister came to pick him up, I got ambitious. Really ambitious. Apparently, decidedly overambitious which is just so typically me.

I set off to the garden store to pick up some organic compost and garden soil to amend my raised beds for the start of the growing season! Well, of course! The weather was in the upper 40s and rather delightful for the first day of Spring! I hefted big, honkin’ bags of compost and soil into the back of the car. On a whim, I decided to buy 4 blueberry bushes for the flower garden, too.

Why? Because last year I attempted to grow from seed all sort of flowers: sunflowers, asters, dahlias, and zinnias. And well, the chipmunks had other plans for me. Only the zinnias came up. And one solo dahlia.

And I just didn’t want to go through that again. So I thought, on a whim, how about blueberry bushes? Even if they don’t produce for a few years, they do flower, and it will look nice!

So 12 bags of compost and soil later, along with 3 varieties of blueberries, I returned home around noon and set out to reclaim the garden beds.
raised bed

I used the pitchfork to turn the soil in 3 raised beds. I turned and I churned. Then I hauled out the bags of soil and compost and dumped several bags in the beds, making a compost/soil salad. And then I turned and churned again.

In the front squarish raised bed, I decided to throw caution to the wind and plant some late winter/early spring seeds.
spring seeds

I bent over in all sorts of decidedly awkward and contorted positions over my large squared bed in order to plant three rows of carrots, interspersed with radishes and beets. And then I decided to keep going. I planted baby spinach, some lettuces, broccoli rabe, cilantro, and parsley. I planted the entire square bed. Even though it is entirely early.

But I wanted to try something new and see if I really could get these supposedly hardy late Winter/early Spring veggies going.

And then! Not to forget the blueberry bushes! I churned the soil in the side garden, mixing in new organic compost and soil. And more planting: 3 varieties of blueberry bushes—northland, bluecrop, and elliot. I dug and planted 4 bushes total.
blueberry bushes

Now, the planting instructions say to give each blueberry bush close to 6 feet of space. Hah! I went with about 4 feet. We’ll see how this experiment goes. My goal is to watch these babies grow, and then use the front of the bed to plant random flower seeds. Probably more zinnias. I just love flowers to be able to cut and make bouquets—that’s my goal.

So here it was, this glorious first day of Spring. I was outside digging and planting for 6 hours. Totally in the zone. Totally content. So happy! I even hung my Spring dogwood wreath and put out my new outdoor mats.

I felt great! Accomplished! Pumped! Grateful.

Turns out I was an idiot for not being more conscious of what I was doing to my body. Gardening uses all sorts of crazy muscles. And if you haven’t been doing it for a long while, then you are in for a BIG surprise. I was rather reckless the way I was lifting and bending and squatting and stretching and reaching and whatnot.

Fast forward about 6 hours… I WAS IN PAIN.

Ridiculous, angry, mortifying, humbling pain.

I did myself in. More specifically: I did my lower back in. I did NOT sleep hardly a wink Sunday night. My back was so upset with me. I could not find a comfortable sleeping position in the slightest. My lower back right side was spasming and wrenching, and I felt miserable. I was crying out in pain.

I stayed home from work on Monday, barely able to move. No joke. It was embarrassing. How could this happen? What had I done? When did I get so OLD?

To add insult to injury (literally!), it snowed yesterday. Yeah. Snow. I was so busy diving into the garden the first chance I got, that I failed to consult the forecast. Had I bothered to check, I would have learned that at least a few inches of snow was coming.

Late morning I did finally fall sleep after strategically placing a hot water bottle up against my side as I curled into the most awkward fetal position. When I awoke, this was the scene outside:
snow bushes

snow lillies

Snow-covered lillies in the front garden.

snow gardens

To the left is the bed I had just planted one day before.

Yeah. Kinda funny. And kinda not.

It’s Tuesday now. The snow has pretty much melted. My back is still not too good. I returned to work today, and I’ve been very, very gentle with my back, trying to do all the right things.

I still feel really old.

The funny part about all this, is that instead of being super concerned about ME and making sure that I recover and heal my back real quick, in my mind right now I’m more concerned about whether or not my seeds will make it.

Sheesh.

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Posted in The Growing Season | No Comments »

goodbye winter

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Hello! I know my posts have been infrequent lately. I have been consumed with spending time sleeping and running and devoting myself to wellness over the past month.

Winter just seemed like the right time to make wellness a priority in my life. I am a work in progress, as we all are. I have written rather extensively about my propensity for working a lot and getting caught up in a vicious cycle of working late and staying up late and focusing outwardly. I have come to realize that I am very good at avoiding being present in my body. Avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Running away from anxiety.

But where is it getting me? Nowhere, really. It’s a cycle that just goes and goes and doesn’t lend itself to progress or nurturing.

And what I have come to understand is that nurturing is tough work. But good work—the real work. We need to nurture ourselves. And I need to nurture me, foster goodness and love in ME. Especially if I plan to become a parent.

This discovery seems so simple, and yet it has taken me a long while to really wrap my head around it. Every day is a new opportunity to be good to myself. Every day I owe it to myself to commit to being gentle to my body and mind. Nourishing. Forgiving. Urgent. Loving. Progressive. Patient. Nudging.

It’s a dance. A delicate balance.

And not every day goes smoothly. But I am doing the work. My hope is that it gets easier with practice, and that my good habits become second nature.

I can so easily be thrown off course by a bad work day, a conversation, a wayward feeling, a wave of anxiety or doubt. But I am learning to embrace these sometimes uncomfortable, ambivalent feelings. To exist in total, utter shades of gray. It’s been difficult, and yet, transformative.

It’s not this gigantic epiphany, more of a building. A resonance of how the next chapters of my life are meant to unfold. And while this learning has been ongoing over the last several months, the clarity really came during Winter. Winter allowed me to slow down and focus. And process. And heal. And dream.

So, goodbye Winter. You have been so good to me this year. I am ever so grateful for all that you have given me and what I am learning because of this time.

To cap it all off, today/tonight I am babysitting my 18-month old nephew. It was such a wonderful day hanging out with the bug. He brings me such raw joy, it is amazing.
finger puppets

finger puppets

Playing with a finger puppets Old MacDonald Had a Farm book.

finger puppets

house guest

Reading a baby sign language book

nearing nap time

Just about nap time. Ready to snuggle.

If you are ever in need of renewal or affirmation, hang out with a toddler. It helps. My nephew is simply delightful. Happy, inquisitive, peaceful… such a healthy reminder of what we are all capable of and striving for.

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Posted in The Daily Balance | 3 Comments »

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