Monday, January 29, 2007

Confessions of a Seed Catalog Junkie

I have stopped. I promise. No more ordering of seeds. I cannot promise that I won't pick up a few packets here and there, but no more ordering. I really don't know what gets into me. But, I need them, I want them, I can't refuse them a place in my garden. It's too much really. And there are seeds to use from last year! My garden will be overflowing. Good thing for me that I've made new beds...(I promise that I am not grinning maniacally and rubbing my hands together in an all-together much too crazy fashion. Really).
I'm quite ready for spring. I even braved cold temperatures yesterday to be outside working. Yesterday afternoon it started to snow and today we have a snow day. Monkey and I have been enjoying the day by painting together, making crepes, and keeping the fire going. I've also been working on my garden notebook for this year by creating the plant pages. I've come up with a general information sheet, which I then use to copy the seed packet onto using the color copier in my office. I have plenty of room to write notes and can keep a copy of the seed packet nice and clean for future reference.
I've already started leeks. I was hoping to start some shallots from seed, but was informed they won't show up until March. Now that the leeks are thin little slivers of green on a sunny shelf in my office, I want to start more seeds. But I will be patient and wait a little while longer. I have started more in the greenhouse - arugula, radishes, mache, and a few potatoes that sprouted in the cupboard. What I love best about my seed habit, is trying new varieties and keeping old favorites. I'm glad that I saved a few of the Kirby's Whippoorwill field peas from Bakers Creek because there were none to be had this year. I'll just have to save my own seeds to keep that one coming. So much promise in such a little thing. I'm an addict, all right.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


It would seem that Augustus is really Augusta. I found the evidence tonight, ending weeks of speculation.

That's it, up there on the left. It's almost as big as my palm. Definitely a goose egg. The speckled one on the right is a turkey egg I believe.

And I promise, no more egg pictures! (Well, maybe one when the duck finally lays a egg).

And really, she's a beautiful girl. You can't really tell in the photo, but her eyes are the most beautiful blue!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I've marked my calendar

The Organic Growers School is March 10. I can't wait!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

It's the little things

One of the things that makes gardening so enjoyable is taking time to notice the minute things that happen in a day. Take this snow pea. It poked its way out of the soil only a few days ago. It's growing and each day it will push a little farther. In no time with the help of a small trellis, it will reach up toward the ceiling of the greenhouse.
I spent a couple of hours in the greenhouse today. Outside the sun is shining, but the wind is quite cold. The sun warmed the interior of the greenhouse to a toasty 70 degrees. I moved and filled pots. The sun moved across the sky hanging behind the woods to the south. Long shadows from the bare trees criss-crossed the floor of the greenhouse. In a few short weeks it will shift far enough north to be over the trees. I watched the chickens scratch in the garden and around the lawn. The ducks and goose took a dip in the fish pond, then came down to see what I was up to. I tossed them the lettuce seedlings I had been thinning.
I generally cloister myself during the winter months. I venture out to take care of the animals, but don't want to spend too much time outside in the cold. My body doesn't really handle cold too well. I feel that I miss a lot in the winter. But no more! I soaked up sunshine alongside the peas and lettuce. I have to say that the greenhouse is the best gift I've ever received.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And in the greenhouse...

A mix of Asian greens.

Look what I found!

The first guinea egg! Now what?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Plotting the plots

Seed catalogs arrive in hordes each day. How can I say "no" to so many delicious possibilities? I've stopped the frenzied ordering. I'll just sit back (on my hands, so I can't order more) and await the arrival of seed packets.

I ordered most of my tomatoes from Baker Creek again this year. Last year they germinated so well and grew big and somehow managed to stay healthy. I've added Principe Borghesi, for sun-drying. Jamie inspired me. And speaking of inspiration - Liz's talk of growing her own paprika induced me to order not one, but two varieties of paprika for my own garden this year.

I've grown quite brave (foolish?). I'm trying several new things this year - leeks, kohlrabi, fennel and jicama for the sheer silly hell of it. I'm sticking with favorites in the tomato, potato, bean, pea, cucumber and carrot realms with a few new varieties thrown in for adventure - you know - red carrots, french cornichons, yellow mangel beets, russian banana fingerling potatoes...
Maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Everything is up and growing in the greenhouse. I insulated the lower walls with bubble wrap. The spring-like, unnatural weather is helping to keep the heating bills down. Soon I'll be starting seeds and planting more pots to harvest early. We should have baby lettuce ready for harvesting in a week or two. I love to be inside where it smells of earth and damp. The goose and turkeys take turns posturing in front of their reflections. They must wonder why the birds in the greenhouse never come outside. Gigi sits outside the door with a ball in her mouth. It's torture for her.

The weather is torturing me because I know it will turn.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Home Again

We had a little holiday. Monkey and I went to the National Aquarium and enjoyed a day of fish watching. We then took off to the wilds of Virginia and enjoyed a weekend of doing absolutely nothing. Nothing is a good thing to do.

I've spent the last several weeks scouring seed catalogs and spent my first evening home ordering lots of promise for the spring and summer. More on that later.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

She was a good dog

photo by the monkey, Christmas 2006

Monday, January 08, 2007

Signs that I need a vacation...

I had a dream where I hired Dr. Who as our new kindergarten teacher. The field trips were fantastic.

Good thing we're off to Baltimore in a couple of days.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Duck, duck, goose! Gander? Goose? What?

The raising of ducks and geese has become a frustrating endevour for me. Last year - two rather expensive orders from hatcheries and one free donation from a kind stranger left me with one Buff Orpington duck, two Cayuga drakes, one Pekin drake and one Tufted Roman gander (or is it goose? - I just can't tell!). Poor Augustus/Augusta lost his/her mate. Drusilla/Drusus was lost in a mystery attack a couple of months ago. The out-of control drakes have been harrassing him/her and Buffy the Buff duck for the last several weeks. It's almost embarrasing, really. I mean, if they weren't water fowl and all...

I read this article yesterday, and it made me think about my lone goose, and the gang of young drakes... So tonight I placed an order for 2 Tufted Roman Geese and one Gander, and 3 Buff Orpington Hens and one Drake. I had promised myself that I would not order chickens this year. Geese and ducks don't count, do they? Besides, we need chicks of some sort for our Second Annual Chickfest/Chickapalooza party in April. Hopefully soon, with a little culling of the unwanted Cayuga drakes, we'll have happy flocks. Prophetically, the Cayugas never acquired names. The new residents should arrive around the first day of spring.

Friday, January 05, 2007

What's up in the new year

So, shortly after the last post, the skies opened up and the rain came down. It rained and it rained and things flooded and got quite damp. The next day - first of 2007, the sun came out. Temperatures soared and it felt like, well, April (or at least March...). I cleaned out the chicken coop and the goat shed, spread lots of mulch and pruned apple trees. Oh, and we also butchered all the young thug roosters, leaving only Rufus and Number Two. It's a lot quieter around the farm these days.

Life was good, then the winter break ended and it was back to school. Our fun ended.

For all of you who have asked (and thank you!). Louis and Marie are fine and dandy. I'm hoping for little Royal Palm turkey poults this spring. The guineas have settled in. I plan to let them out soon. They make noise, loud noise, but infrequently. Number Two has found a new home here with all these hens and has been, um, getting down to business. And for your viewing pleasure, here he is - chasing the ladies.