This is what it’s looking like around here these days. Although, in all honesty, I took this photo in April 2004 so technically this is what it was looking like at this time four years ago. Which looks very much like right now.
I’ve decided to take the plunge back into the world of sunflowers. Anyone gardening in public space knows that sunflowers have a time-sensitive contract out on their lives beginning the moment they bloom. Their big beautiful blooms inspire grabbing hands that MUST rip and tear and have them all to themselves. I’d like to think those grabbing hands are taking the decapitated, stemless heads home and cuddling with them at night, clutching them with joy. The hands are lonesome. They need beauty in their life! Odds are that those ripped flowers don’t make it down the block — tossed into a City planter as soon as the hands realize the awkwardness of a stemless flower head.
The sight of enormous decapitated plants poking from the back of the garden is too heartbreaking. I got fed up years ago, throwing my arms up in defeat and announcing “A sunflower will never bloom in my garden again!”
And so I have remained since, living in denial that sunflowers exist. Allowing myself rare moments to enjoy them in other peoples’ gardens but never allowing myself to look at seeds or varieties. It’s all very sad and heartbreaking.
I let my guard down in a moment of weakness on our trip to Austin last month. We had soldiered through the rain and across a highway to visit Big Red Sun garden center. I refused to leave empty-handed having put in such great effort to get there! As soon as I saw this pack of ‘Chocolate Cherry’ Sunflowers from Renee’s Garden I knew I had to grow them. I had been withholding from sunflowers for so long that I had completely missed out on all the rich, burgundy varieties available. Now that the door is open I’ve also got my eye on ‘Cinnamon Sun’ and ‘Junior.’
You can bet I will not be starting any of these in the street/guerilla garden. No ma’am, I am saving a nice sunny and safe spot on the roof for these babies and I MIGHT attempt to grow one in my plot at the community garden where their safety is less secure but much greater than their chances in the Garden of Doom.
Just when I thought today couldn’t get any worse and that I might waste the day away wallowing in a pity party for one, seeds arrive in the mail. It’s amazing how such a small thing can cheer me up so fully.
I’m very determined to experiment with melon varieties this year. I ordered three more varieties from Seed Savers but will probably have to narrow my choices down to 2 or 3 varieties in total for want of space. I tend to order seeds with the kind of ambition best reserved for a sprawling country farm.
A stack of lettuce seeds, the fruit of my first attempt ordering via the complicated Seeds of Diversity system arrived from Vicki’s Veggies a CSA located about an hour or two away in Prince Edward County. As soon as the ground thaws I plan to get outside and sow some ‘Drunken Woman’ lettuce. It’s encouraging to know that at least some of my seed money was not diverted towards a disgruntled postal worker luncheon. Who knows what else will make it to my mailbox this week. I put through a lot of last-ditch seed orders recently.
I took this photo last year, although I’m sure if I went there today it would look much the same. Spadina House is one of my favourite Toronto hidden gems. I like to go there on sunny summer afternoons to lay underneath the apple trees. It is always quiet and solitary. And the gardens are fun to explore too.
And the winner in the race to germination is… ‘Purple Calabash’ Tomato. Because I know some of you will ask, I will just go ahead and clarify that the drops of water on the leaves fell from condensation that had formed underneath the “greenhouse” lid and onto the leaves when I removed it and are not due to top watering or spraying.
Some of you have asked about mold and fungal problems when seed starting. Both top watering and spraying can cause these sorts of problems and should be avoided most especially when the seedlings are young and vulnerable. Watering seedlings from below by pouring into a tray or saucer rather than onto the soil gives you more control over both the quantity and distribution of water to the plant.
Captioning this photo required a long mental pause to determine how long it had been since my trip to Austin. It feels like months have passed when in fact this photo was taken exactly 16 days ago. I asked Davin to take a picture as a memento of my last interaction with a mature tomato plant until July. Although I am impatient, it is encouraging to know that in three to four months the little seedling above will look something like the plants in this picture.