Thursday, February 26, 2015

Souped-up Garden is slowly shifting back into gear...

Though The Calm One is almost over the dreadful flu that a couple of weeks ago descended like a stultifying, gloomy cloud upon our once actively functioning household, I am still struggling with sporadic bouts of low-energy and a hacking cough. Homemade food from our freezer has been much appreciated by us, and today it is pizza:

My recipe is here.

Toulouse sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, mozzarella, and Parmesan, if you please. So good!

My plant nursery order will arrive tomorrow which means I soon will be starting heat-loving seeds in an incubator, that is, various peppers, black-eyed Susan vine, and then later basil, tomatoes, squash, and melons. Outdoor sowing includes parsley, chives, dill, garlic, marjoram, onions, potatoes, peas, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, leeks, spinach, and then later, green beans, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Meanwhile, the permanent asparagus and rhubarb plantings need to be kept free of weeds and fertilised, ditto with the strawberry beds which are productive for about four years.

A welcomed sight: first the big pink 'egg' and then the unfurling of rhubarb leaves

Since most of our fruit and landscape trees/bushes are already presenting tight, little buds, we need to get their pruning done within a week. I have duly made the necessary appointment with The Calm One for his valued assistance. This year, the grapevines won't need trimming because the sauvage area reserved for small wildlife in a back corner has become so tall that not much sunlight reaches the nearby vines, significantly stunting their growth. Therefore no grapes for the birds, but there are tons of blackberry brambles festooning the back-to-nature section so it all works out.

Our short winter is coming to a close, but persistent rains are preventing the weeding of and incorporation of compost into, the many beds, each measuring four feet by twelve feet and which at present are muddy. Digging soggy soil is injurious to its structure whose healthy state is paramount for flourishing plants. But gardening is one of my great loves, so it will be a work of joy and any challenge will be taken into stride, frequently with smiles and laughs. It's true that the real focus of gardening is to grow the soil, but I suspect gardening also grows your sense of humour. Then again, life in general provides many opportunities to have various guffaws/giggles at your expense and at many absurdities encountered.


Since starting our potager about five years ago, I have noted what did and didn't work during the previous season. My present epiphany is that without healthy seedlings, everything else is made harder. The solution is to use very fresh seeds, that is, saving only the excess that does not degrade rapidly even if it means a little more expense, provide adequate light as soon as they emerge, transplant only the strongest and most robust despite the waste, gradually hardening them out in the sunlight/wind, and transferring them to the soil while they still have room to grow in their pots.

Annual vegetables have a strenuous growth cycle beginning with a sprouting seed and culminating in a mature plant setting its own seeds. Hence they do not bear well any obstacle stunting that rapid process which usually lasts under six months. Yes, that means weeding, fertilising, watering, and mulching matters. Note to self: cultivate only the amount I can properly handle.

For those beginners who would like a doable start to growing some edibles, pop a few potted veggie plants into your cart if your supermarket has such a section. For example, if you have a sunny spot on a sill or a small patio/balcony, dwarf cherry tomatoes would appreciate spending time there along with various herbs. Keep them in a place where you will note their existence daily so you won't forget to water them!

Dirac the kitten has been taking it easy also...

Chewing on his favourite blankie

...and taking advantage that in our attempt to hydrate ourselves, there are glasses of water partout.

À la prochaine!


How to sow indoors to get an early start
Sowing leeks
Sowing spinach
Sowing peas
Sowing onion sets
Sowing carrots
Sowing garlic
Sowing potatoes
Basic principle underlying pruning: apical dominance

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