Monday, December 29, 2014

Mea Culpa

I haven't blogged much in the past year. There are photos waiting in a folder. Stories yet to tell. Good intentions say I'll still write those blogs and pre-date them so they show up in the right spots. Hey, it's winter now? That's a good time to do inside jobs, right?

Well, 2014 was a busy year. In January I had foot surgery. That sat me back for a goodly time. During the 6-8 weeks of recovery time, I did a lot of knitting and watching TV. YEA! An excuse to knit. The main thing I worked on was the Lion Brand Flattering Jacket. I got everything but the sleeves done while I was not walking. In November I finished it. The sweater is made from a llama/wool blend and is quite warm. I love it.

By the time I was walking again, it was time to start the seeds for my garden. I never have success growing my plants from seeds. I use a grow light. I use good soil. I use fresh seeds. They don't grow. Viola! A nursery man I was complaining to this summer told me what I was doing wrong. He said it didn't matter how early I planted my seeds. If the soil isn't warm, the seeds won't grow. My seed starts are kept in the sunniest, however, the coolest room of the house. It sounds like I need to find one of those mats that folks put in terrariums for lizards -- something to keep the floor warm (or at least an electric heating pad). I could put that under the trays of seedlings. I'll search my seed catalogs and see what they offer. Guerney's Seed and Nursery Co., formerly of Yankton, S.D., now in Greendale, Indiana, always has neat goodies. It just so happens my new Guerney's catalog came in last week... Dream time!!

Yard Long Beans growing on a trellis
Perhaps I'll find something interesting. Otherwise, I will not even try seedlings in 2015.  I'll just haunt all my favorite nurseries. There are two in Topeka, One south of town, one in Burlington and one in LeRoy. I love nurseries. There is a lot of instant gratification in bringing home plants 3", 6" or taller and putting them right in the ground where I want them. No worrying with watering and waiting. No wondering if they will come up and survive. They are right there! I can see them. I can plan around them. Unfortunately, I'm limited to the varieties that the nurseries stock. Seeds can come from anywhere. You can have any kind of seed that will grow in your climate if you start your own. (Sigh) Stick within your capabilities, Iris.

First Yard Long Beans picked
The garden did get in. As usual, I tried some things I hadn't grown before. My best experiment was Yard Long Beans. My 4'x12" raised bed grew enough beans for me to put up  the 75 1/2-pints I wanted for the year. If I were feeding more than one person, I could probably plant the plot more densely and get 75 full pints from that space. I will definitely grow these beans next year.

This was not a good year for tomatoes. I don't know if it was the new bed where I planted them, or if there was something else wrong. I had a terrible time with blossom end rot, particularly on the paste tomatoes. Nearly all of them had to be discarded. The beefsteak tomatoes fared the best. I canned and juiced all I wanted, but supplemented a lot with tomatoes from Pome on the Range in Homewood, Ks. I hear calcium helps prevent blossom end rot. Next time I plant tomatoes, I'll be certain to put ground up egg shells in each hole at the time of planting. I will also research the problem this winter to see what else I can do to prevent it next year.

Root crops don't grow well here. My onions are a bit bigger than pearl onions. The potatoes and sweet potatoes are hardly big enough to peel. I don't think I will mess with potatoes next year. My soil has a large clay content. I need more humus and what? sand?  Wouldn't that turn clay to concrete? Need more research. I truly would like to grow big onions and healthy carrots. Forget about potatoes. Give me carrots!!

It is now December. The New Year will be here before the week is out. It's time to knit, study seed catalogs, and plan for next year.  The Wheel of the Year turns even when we aren't ready. We might as well keep jogging and stay with it. It's certain I'm 66 and ready to slow down in some areas, but I enjoy playing in the dirt too much to quit gardening. There is such a joy to see the plants come up, bloom and give their fruit or seeds. I find myself out there talking to them and telling them how pretty they are.

If you're going to be a Crazy Cat Lady and Eccentric Gardener, you might as well start with talking to to plants. :)  Wouldn't you tell these flowers how beautiful they are?

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