I’ve long held the belief that there are no green thumbs or black thumbs and that gardening is a process of learning and discovery with no peak or end goal. You can garden like a maniac your entire life and never know everything there is to be known. In fact I would say that the more I learn the less I realize I know. That sounds intimidating but it’s one aspect of this hobby/lifestyle that is most rewarding and optimistic. And knowing that you can’t possibly know everything there is to know should help to take some of the pressure off.
That said, I can say with absolute certainty that all gardeners have their weaknesses — there is always that one plant, that dirty little secret whose riddle just can’t be cracked. Mine used to be radishes. I know exactly how to grow them and if you had asked me I would have been able to explain exactly what they need without flinching. But when it came down to it I grew a pretty awful radish. I wrote about my radish problem in the You Grow Girl book because I wanted people to know that they should not give up on those embarassing failures and that it is sometimes one thing to understand what a plant needs on an intellectual level and another thing to apply that knowledge to a real plant.
And then low and behold, just last year I managed to grow my first crop of good container-grown radishes! And today, for a second year running, I have harvested my first tasty, crisp, not-at-all-woody container-grown radishes of the season. Woot! I’ve come to think that my radish mistake probably came down to my own insanely stubborn insistance on growing a variety that just couldn’t take the extra heat and drought on the deck. Again this was one of those instances where I KNEW what I should have been growing and had even appropriately advised many aspiring radish growers while stubbornly soldiering on in the wrong direction in my own garden.
Gardening season is gearing up for THE BIG WEEKEND, the one in which I will NOT make the mistake of visiting a garden centre or even think about visiting a garden centre. The up-and-coming long weekend — officially known as “May Two-Four” here in Southern Ontario as a way to promote the fact that any Canadian worth their salt will be single-handedly downing a 24 pack of Molson Canadian as a nod to our colonial ties to England or some such whatever, also marks the begininning of our local gardening season. As a result I’ve been frantically running around the city buying plants and preparing for a bunch of up and coming projects and television appearances. Everyone wants to talk gardening this week! I have visited at least one garden centre every single day for the last 7-10 days. I went to three today. In the rain. It was cold and wet.
Anyways, I’ll be on the teevee both Thursday and Friday this week. I’ll also be selling stuff at The Urban Harvest sale this coming Saturday (see the sidebar for details). I promise you it will be fun, not at all painful like the line-ups from hell you will see at any other garden store this weekend. Plus I’ll have new button designs!
Thursday, May 17, 2007.
Gill Deacon Show
11am and 2pm
I’ll be talking about gardening in a changing climate.
Friday, May 18, 2007.
Times are listed on their website.
I’ll be talking about container gardening and demonstrating how I plant and grow tomatoes.
In the spirit of Be Nice to Nettles Week, we tried our hand at a batch of nettle soup using the site recipe as a basis. Let me tell you that a half pound of nettles is a whole lot more than you’d expect. I harvested enough young nettles (stems included) to fill a small plastic bag however once the stems and not so great parts were removed it came out to just slightly over 1/4 pound. Here’s what that looks like:
Just a reminder to protect your hands with gloves at any point in the process that involves touching any part of the fresh nettles including leaves and stems. The plant will lose its sting once cooked, but can get you at anytime when fresh, even when soaking under water.
The recipe seemed a little too bland so I chopped and added half a small onion before adding the nettles. We did not have sour cream or yoghurt on hand so I garnished mine with bits of smoked trout bought at my local farmer’s market. The soup was really good, tasting very much like vichyssoise. In fact I ate the leftovers cold. The geek in me was very satisfied that a portion of this meal was collected/foraged from the out-of-doors. Over the last year I’ve come back full circle to an early interest in wild foods and edible weeds that I haven’t really indulged since I was a teenager foraging for plants with “Edible Weeds of Canada” tucked under my arm.
Next up: Garlic Mustard.
I spent Saturday doing hardcore gardening work including prepping the fire-escape windowboxes for planting. On Sunday afternoon I purchased a few plants for the boxes and decided to get them planted up rather than wait for additional plants. Check out what I found buried by our friendly neighbourhood squirrel:
A sign of the times. Last year peanuts, this year an entire slice of pizza!
I know it was a new addition because not only was it still intact but I had just dug that spot yesterday. There was also evidence of squirrel digging on the other side of the box.
The location of the squirrel pizza.
Now that we’ve moved into the next phase of spring — a stable phase when the threat of a random snowfall is safely behind us and temperatures are more consistently predictable — a new crop of blooms have begun to emerge. I’ve been happily carrying at least one camera around with me, capturing observations I happen upon on my routine errands.
Hooray for forsythia! My childhood memories of springtime are very connected to puffy bushes of these bright yellow blooms bursting on every front lawn regardless of the neighborhood. Forsythia is one of those plants that the classes seem to agree on — just about anyone can afford a small bush and no one is too good for its bright and cheery flowers.
Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) This is the violet commonly found filling up lawns.
Elephant Ears (Bergenia cordifolia)
Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) This is one of those pretty spring-blooming bulbs that naturalizes well. They are popping up all over the place these days and seem to last longer than some flowering bulbs that come and go with barely a chance to enjoy them.