Quick Links: Grow Your Own

Jen here. I just ran across this really fun blog event called “Grow Your Own” where bloggers post recipes and experiences cooking with their home grown produce.  It happens twice a month and it looks like it’s been going on for a while. I look forward to seeing what comes next.  I certainly need ideas.

I just planted a lot of early spring starts for greens and lettuces.  Now my kitchen counter is lined with soil-filled boxes.  I’m excited for the new growth.  We’ve finally had a bit of rain out here in California – still a potential drought, but I feel better now.

A garden related question, if I see a hummingbird flying around my backyard regularly (every day, including in the rain), should I assume he/she is nesting somewhere?  We don’t have a feeder up, but we do have a few flowering plants (trying to grow more).

Security, and next year’s garden

Gardening is a strange thing to consider with snow falling all around. Gardening … now? But as I go through this, you’ll probably begin to understand why.

I walked around my house looking for things that I treasured. It didn’t stop at my umpteen pairs of shoes, or my computer, or my checkbook (we don’t really have one, thanks to ING – we just order each check as needed), all of my movies, or even my spiffy new camera. I didn’t even take a picture of my diamond engagement ring. I realized that what I treasured were the things that made me feel secure. I mean, isn’t that what we hope for in every relationship we ever have? We hate dating because there is so much uncertainty. We buy a home because we hate the idea of ever being kicked out or moving every six months. With economic uncertainty oozing from everywhere, it’s nice to know I can take care of a few things myself.

We had a big garden this year at our community garden. We loved it. But now it is winter and we cannot rely on the bounty of the garden. Even the chard is snowed over. But we have reserves, and I love them. LOVE THEM! I love the taste of fresh peaches (canned this summer) with homemade yogurt and chicken smothered with homemade salsa in the slow cooker. And to be honest, it wasn’t just the preserved food, but also the empty jars. There is something about having enough jars … I can’t explain it.
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I love a freezer full of goodness – meats, vegetables, breads, and yes, cookies.
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After my husband told friends and family he had joined the LDS Church and most New Englanders don’t know much about the LDS Church, he got a lot of random and generally off-based comments about it. But one was right on, and he thought it was hilarious. “Oh, you get to have a basement full of food!” And it’s true. The LDS Church strongly advocates having a supply of food storage for difficult times, whatever they may be. So, we’re working on our basement full of food. (And please, I mean no offense to New Englanders, I promise. Many misconceptions exist everywhere about the LDS faith, and we’re always more than willing to dispel without offense weird rumors – no, I do not have horns and yes, I am Matt’s only wife, fortunately for him.)
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My cookbooks – strangely enough – provide an additional level of security. They represent an ability to cook, to feed my family, and to make something out of what seems like nothing. I hate moving them, but that’s probably why we bought our townhouse, so I don’t have to move until I’m ready.
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My drying rack for laundry was a bit unexpected, but we dry nearly everything on it. By doing just a load a day, we keep the humidity up in our house, save money from not running the dryer, give the dryer a longer lifespan by not using it much, and my jeans NEVER SHRINK, which is good when long enough ones are difficult to find. It also means I have clothes to wash.
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And the little picture of a sleeping child is the greatest security I can have, for many and random reasons, in no particular order. First, at least half of my DNA has been preserved (which I’m sure is essential to my feeling of security). Second, it means I have unbounded joy in my home. Third, the bed and mattress were free – saving money is wonderful security. And fourth, naptime allows me some time to take care of things and work on making dinner and snacks and cleaning – more money saving and giving real foods to the people I love (including me!).
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After more thought, I realized, I ought to have added my full coat and linen closets (mmm, warmth on this rather snowy day), and my library books (the $50 a year comes out whether I use them or not). So how, you ask, does this relate to gardening?
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Well, it is time now to start planning. Next month, we’ll probably order our seeds and start our Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc) in our little window greenhouse. If we had fruit trees (dream on, I know) we could be pruning them for next year. We are already perusing our seed catalogs, because some seeds sell out and some vegetables can grow while it still freezes -planting by March? Lovely. Seeds also save in zipper baggies in the fridge for several years, so we don’t have too many to buy. That said, I have no idea what I have, so I need to take inventory before I order. Gardening isn’t for everyone, and I know that, but it’s for me and my family. If you want to give it a whirl this year, I promise that plants are pretty hardy things and will defy most peoples attempts to murder them. A little sunshine, some water, good soil, and you might be willing to get your hands a little dirty for a fresh tomato.
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A lot of Garden

We have two gardens, this post is about the first. The second is a plot at a nearby community garden that we will be putting the summer bulk stuff in – peppers, tomatoes, corn, squash, etc. This first garden is my little sanctuary. I have never been one to grow “pretty” things. I could care less about most flowers and shrubs, although I do adore lilacs. They are a sure sign that spring is here. I digress.
Being LDS, I expend a fair bit of effort trying to follow the counsel of Church leaders, and when I do, it brings me great joy and an increase in talents and skills. In this case, I am following the counsel of our former prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball, when he said:
“We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods. Make your garden neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities” (Ensign, May 1976, 124).
We don’t have a lot of space, but the bounty it is producing is beautiful. I was asked for pictures of my garden, but I’m not sure anyone could anticipate my incapacity to limit them. These are all from our inside bounty (those waiting to go into the big plot) and our little greens outside.

SAD Herbs

Seasonal affective disorder affects more than just people. Every year, about this time, my plants get Seasonal Affective Disorder. The thyme gets mites, so we have to cut it back to almost nothing, and it is happy. Sometimes a diet makes the difference, right. And the rosemary, well, it still looks like the Christmas tree it was when we bought it, because every year about this time, it gets powdery mildew, and it too has to be cut back. I think that spring will be very welcome. Even the chives, oregano and mint have threatened desertion, but only the oregano has proved successful. The lavender never has a chance, but we have hope for the chives. If the mint ever died, we would know that winter was WAY too long and WAY too hard, because Mint is not one to give up easily. It is the guy from the mideast that revels in sub-zero outdoor hockey. The lavender is the wimp from Florida that if he doesn’t get enough sun will just give up.
Come spring!