Seed starting season is just around the corner. It happens every year and every year I yell to no one and everyone that I’m not ready and could I please just have another day or a week, but it comes anyways. Then again, am I ever ready for anything garden-related? From seed starting season to the first frost I am constantly begging for mercy and more time while simultaneously wishing for spring and summer to come sooner and end my winter misery.
Apparently, I can’t have it both ways. Harrumph.
I’m REALLY not ready this year. So much so that I forgot about it completely until the catalogs started to appear in my mailbox. What will I grow? More importantly where will I grow? We keep saying this is the year we move. But we can never find the right place or there is too much work to be done and moving is too big a distraction or there is some reason why I can’t move the roof garden right now. And when I look for a new place to live and garden the endless list of requirements are too impossible to meet on a budget. I need appropriate indoor space, and I need some kind of decent outdoor space whether it be in-ground or on a roof or balcony that also gets lots of light because, I’m sorry, but I have to grow my sun-loving vegetables and herbs, and apparently over the years that has become more important than the thousands of things I hate about our current apartment. So this is the year we move. For real! I swear.
But how do I make plans with such a big question mark looming?
Whether I’m ready for it or not the march towards seed starting season presses on. Just today I sent in my yearly Seeds of Diversity membership payment in response to a final, act now or you’re out you irresponsible jerk notice. Is it really time to renew already? And to make matters worse I received notice that Seedy Saturday Toronto is happening earlier than ever this year. February 28! Only a month and a bit away.
Botanical Interests sent me some seeds recently. When they asked what I’d like to try I laughed to myself, chuckling about how early they were. Surely I won’t be making plans or ordering seeds for ages yet? WRONG! Well, at least I know that wherever my gardens happen to be this year, I will be growing the three packets I choose, ‘Zeolights’ Calendula, ‘Ruby Streaks’ Mustard Greens, and ‘Valentine’ Mesclun Mix come hell or high water.
It’s a start….
My composting worms are housed in an average-sized bin that we keep in the hallway just outside our apartment door. This spot next to the recycling bin is great three out of four seasons of the year since it saves precious space inside our apartment and is the perfect distance between the roof garden and the kitchen. Unfortunately, the winter season poses a problem. The hallways are heated but just barely, not nearly enough to keep redwigglers (Eisenia foetida) alive.
This year, rather than lugging the big bin into the apartment and living with it underfoot until spring, I decided to downsize. The population in my bin is pretty tame right now. It’s good for the worms to have lots of room in the bin but mine were the equivalent of a two person family living in a monster home. Resizing and moving the contents was easy enough. The bin wasn’t ready to be harvested so I simply prepared a new bin using a smaller container I already had on hand. The worms went into the new bin, bedding and all.
They needed a small top-up of bedding so I shredded some used paper bags I had been saving and moistened it slightly before adding it to the bin. I’ve tried a variety of methods and materials for making bedding over the years and brown paper or paper bags shredded in a paper shredder is my favourite way to go. I don’t mind newspaper but prefer not to use it for reasons that really only come down to pure vanity.
I made a few changes to this new bin based on its size. I was most concerned about creating good air flow in such a small bin so I added a few extra holes to the bottom and top with a few more added to the sides. I also added a large hole on top using a drill bit meant for making doorknob holes. I added a piece of coir planter lining, which can be pulled out to increase air flow. I did this because sometimes the bin can get too wet, requiring me to prop open the lid to increase circulation. This works well but I tend to forget about it and leave it propped for too long, sometimes drying out the bedding more than I had intended. The idea behind the larger hole is to regulate air flow more subtly. We don’t have vermin so there is no fear of mice getting into the bin through the large hole and taking up residence. If you do have mice that come in for the winter I would suggest adding more small holes and skipping the larger hole.
Another little trick I’ve come up with over the years is propping the bin on top of small flower pots. Bricks and cans work too. Propping the bottom up allows for better air flow underneath the bin. And the extra plastic lid underneath catches any run-off which can be saved and poured onto your plants as fertilizer.
In Conclusion: I Rule
We’ve been living with the new bin for about 2 weeks now and so far it has been great. I love it and have offered myself numerous mental high fives since making the shift. As you can see, the new bin fits perfectly underneath a table in the kitchen so composting takes about 5 seconds. The new larger hole on top has been genius — I haven’t had any problems regulating air flow and have avoided having to prop open the lid.
For more on vermicomposting:
For a long list of reasons — many of which I am still in therapy for — I’ve just never been a fan of THE HOLIDAYS. This is why there has always been a distinct lack of HOLIDAY-related nonsense on this site. Pretty much as soon as Dec 1 hits I dive into a hole. It’s not a depression, but more like the mental version of shutting my eyes and waiting for it to be over. Sure, I give the odd nod here and there because face it, if you’re living in North America there is no escaping it. They switch the intercom soundtracks and start lining the shelves with all the must-have stuff as soon as Halloween rolls out. The crazy Light Wars people down the street have had their front yard mise en scene on display for a solid month now.
Anykitsch, my point — and I do have one although it got buried in descriptions and I’m kind of lost now…. Give me a sec. See what happens when I just start to talk about it? Brain coma. Oh yes, my point is that it’s inescapable unless you have buckets of cash and can afford to fly away to some remote location every year. Believe me, I would. The fantasies have already begun. Oddly enough I don’t mind THE HOLIDAYS in other countries and languages. Probably because all the rituals and bull crap is foreign, slightly incomprehensible, and easy to enjoy for what it isn’t.
But the reality is that I don’t have buckets of cash and can’t always scrape together the bills to take me away from it all. Most years I have no choice but to stay where I am and ride it out. I have learned over time that trying to close my eyes and pretend it isn’t happening doesn’t work very well. What does seem to work is embracing the aspects of it that hold fond memories and throwing the rest in the gutter where it belongs. Maybe it’s the gardener in me but I only seem to like the plant-related aspects of THE HOLIDAYS. I like the tree. I like the food. I like the Amaryllis. I’d like the mistletoe if we had the real stuff. I like pine cones. I like the lights too. Even the crazy Light Wars houses. Bless them. I like the REALLY kitsch, REALLY over-the-top crazy, blinding dazzle camouflage decorations and seasonal decor. Thank you to anyone who does this. You keep the good crazy in Xmas.
Part of our 2006 Holiday Card. I based my character and outfit on a former art teacher’s wife.
And so, it comes as some surprise to me that this year, for the first time ever, I feel like I might be able to make it through the month of December with my eyes slightly open. Maybe just a little squinting and a touch of Vaseline smeared over my eyeglass lenses for a softening effect. In fact December hasn’t even come yet and I am already itching to get my tacky tree out. And even wackier still, I spent a few hours the other night constructing cute little soft trees to display on my desk. The pattern is from Stephanie of the now-defunct Little Birds blog. You can see a whole gallery of handcrafted soft trees trees on Flickr. I have made 4 so far constructed entirely of scrap materials. The outsides are sewn using bits and pieces from my scrap bin, the decorations are from a giant container of odd buttons collected over the years, and I stuffed them using old t-shirts and holey socks. I like to make mine as wonky as possible, like a blend of Dr. Seuss and the sad Peanuts Xmas twig tree.
I’m thinking maybe I’ll bust out the white wool roving and make a little snowy diorama with my wonk trees. A weird attempt to capture the bits of a season I could really do without.
What do you love/hate about THE HOLIDAYS? How do you keep your sanity and/or enjoy?
Just a reminder that the date to get your items shipped out is approaching. I originally said Dec 1 but have decided to give it until Dec 5 because I have been so behind in answering my emails. I’ve got a P.O. Box that you can send it to now, but please do email me (gaylaatyougrowgirldotcom) so I know how many packages to wait for. I don’t want to miss any.
Toronto Postal Station C.
1117 Queen Street W.
Toronto ON M6J 3P6
I think it’s time to let it go and accept the inevitable… that garlic is not going to get into the ground this year. I’m already a month late. Thankfully I predicted this would happen and decided against participating in the Great Canadian Garlic Nerd Fest months ago thereby avoiding not only being pissed at myself but enduring the shame of not following through on a commitment.
Of course, as I’m writing the words, “Let it go” a portion of my brain is strategizing how I can still make it happen. Let it go? Never!