I meant to post about tomatoes today, but with the weather so warm and spring-like I headed off to my friend Barry’s garden to photograph some early spring ephemerals before they are gone.
I can feel it in the air. Just today I noticed that a few more green bits had forced their way above the soil surface outside. Spring will be here soon and for some of you it has already arrived. In the meantime, these flowers have been helping me through. Their colourful, long lasting blooms have been a nice respite from the dreary monochromatic gloom of winter.
At least a decade has passed since I first discovered and started growing cold hardy opuntia and yet it still comes as a surprise that they exist, like some mythical unicorn come to life. And there are so many of them! Some have thick paddles like the big opuntia that produce edible pears in southern climates. Others have thin leaves and stand tall — a lot taller than you’d think possible in freezing climates.
I used to grow winter hardy cactus in pots on the old roof garden, and I had small success (and mostly failure) growing them in the barren earth next to the building; however, moving to a place with a yard was an opportunity to give them a permanent place of importance and experiment with a dry garden bed, albeit on a small scale.
While it is still early days yet here in the upper regions of North America, many of us (myself included) have begun the process of buying and planting seeds for the 2012 gardening season. There are 12 years of resources published on this website, many of which even I have trouble locating, so I’ve compiled a list here to make it easier for you.
- These Are a Few of My Favourite Peas
- Giant Cape Gooseberry
- Salad Greens: Direct sow these.
- Wild Eggplant: Just for the heck of it, I decided to grow one this year.
- Growing Beans: Buy now, but wait until after the last frost to direct sow outdoors.
- ‘Trionfo Violetto’: If you only have room for one pole bean, I’d suggest this one.
- ‘Spigarello’ Leaf Broccoli: A very productive and beautiful leafy green.
- Edible Flowers
- Delicious Nasturtiums
- Tomatoes to Grow in Containers (or anywhere else for that matter)
- Hot Pepper varieties that I grew in 2011.
- Italian Edibles
- Build a D.I.Y Lighting System
- Printable Seed-Starting Chart (This is a good place to begin)
- A Quick and Easy Germination Test
- Seed-Starting Instructions
- Toilet Roll Seed-Starter (Please note that I have altered this system and I no longer cut the slots or bother making a bottom. Though either works, really.)
- Make Your Own Seed-Starting Mix (scroll down the page)
Caring for Seedlings & Planting Out
I’ve had to interrupt my previously scheduled post to bring you this breaking news: Holy shit, it is snowing!
I have tried over the years to come to appreciate winter more. I really have. I know there are lots of reasons to appreciate and even enjoy this time of year; I just don’t care about those reasons in the face of months and months of permanently frozen extremities. Intellectually, I understand the importance of winter in this region as it pertains to the ecosystem. Wild life rely on it. Plants need it. We need it. I get it. Winter is good. Snow is good.
Aesthetically, a newly fallen snow is a very beautiful site to behold. Snowflakes are magical. I am fascinated by all of the plants that stay green and thriving underneath a thick blanket of snow. You can make snow angels, although I must warn you that this requires laying down in the horribleness. Sledding is fun at any age; however, I would advise against it if you have hip or knee problems. I like the way things look through my camera when you can see the bones of the trees. I appreciate the simplified image I can capture when a blanket of white cuts out the details and lays the world bare.
Why, just the other day I came up with a new benefit. You see? I am always brainstorming for the good side. I am a beacon of hopeful positivity! The frozen ground and snow coverage prevents the squirrels from digging up my freshly planted bulbs. Score one point for me. I think that makes it Me: 2 — Squirrels: Still winning. Oh, but I am making headway.
I have lived my entire 38 years in this part of Canada. I have experienced winter, frozen earth, light snowfall, slush, icy sidewalks, sprained wrists caused by falling over on icy sidewalks, blizzards, being snowed in, digging out the family car, having to walk to the grocery store through snow up to my waist… I am no stranger to winter weather. I want to be a glowing, earth mother goddess type who welcomes the changing of all seasons with open arms and lush, poetic prose. I want to make you sick with my positive outlook and super-refined, harmonious connection to all of Gaia’s rhythms.
Alas, it just isn’t in my blood. My people come from the tropics and my genetic makeup refuses to let it go. I absolutely abhor the sound of certain type of snow as it crunches underfoot. It causes a physical, cringing sensation akin to nails on a chalkboard that goes right through my whole body. I am physically happier, healthier, and more comfortable overall when I am warm. I really like the sun and the feeling of that warmth on my face. I prefer the chaos of thick greenery to the silence of a white field. I am not contented with a shortened growing season. I miss spending time outdoors, mucking about like a kid in a sandbox through the months when digging the frozen ground calls for the services of nothing less than a flame thrower and a backhoe.
In other words, try as I might, I am not a fan of the winter. But we do have socialized health care and a nice quality of life here so for those reasons I am very grateful to have been born in Canada, despite three or so months of OMG WHEN WILL THIS CRUCIFIXION BE OVER!
Tell me, how do you feel about winter and snow?