Thursday, January 7, 2010

Garden Thursday

In the fall our local CBC radio affiliate had, on its afternoon show, a weekly chat segment with a gardener from these parts, a sort of "gentleman farmer" kind of person, although strictly speaking it was a "lady farmer" but I worry about giving random and completely confusing references no one but me will understand so I'll stick with inaccurate but you-get-the-point references to start with. Anyhow, this person came on each week to talk about amusing and educational details about her life out on the land, a small-holding with horses, vegetable gardens, and (I think) chickens. I listened while I made dinner; I like listening to other gardeners,* especially novices in the food production game like myself, but I frequently found myself thinking "Why don't they get local no name gardeners like ME on that show instead of famous writers slash lady farmers?" I was, I freely admit, slightly grumpy about these segments. I might not have several acres out back, complete with horses, goats, hives, and wheat fields, not to mention a Budget or Travel Allowance, but there is a lot of growing going on, and most of it can be made extremely witty, not to mention neatly packaged for radio. 

So then I had the brilliant if I do say so myself and gosh sheila aren't you just the humble one? idea to invent a weekly segment on my blog, where I have a relatively captive audience, and make my own chat show slash garden podcast. Well, except for the fact that you won't be able to podcast it. Or chat with me in real time. But you're captive. And really, for a blog writer, what's not to like about that? (if I could bring myself to use emoticons and punctuation marks for facial expressions I'd insert a smile here just to show you my Genial Garden Host side but I can't bring myself to so I won't. Sorry)

Here goes, then. My first Garden Thursday post. Let's hope it won't be the last...

It's been a rather wet week so far, hasn't it? (sorry if that's completely irrelevant) I'm itching to get out into the garden but it's been a bit on the horribly muddy side out back, so I'm confining myself to other gardening avenues: catalogue persuals and garden centre visits.

Saturday I was wandering around my favourite garden centre, in an attempt to a) escape My Life As A Mother, and b) spend the gift certificates I'd been given, and c) think about gardening despite it being cold, wet, and muddy out. It was right after Christmas, granted, but gosh that place was quiet. Cavernous. Alarmingly empty. No seeds. No bulbs. But, and this is a big but: all the outside shrubs and deciduous plants were at a significant discount. And I, bless my cheap little soul, love a significant discount. Heck, who am I kidding. I love any kind of a discount. That was where I found my new Abeliophyllum distichum. I was sorely tempted by a particularly fabulous Rose of Sharon but three garden centre employees did that "Meh..." shrug/eye roll/grimace when I asked about it, and call me naive but I've learned that the body language of garden centre personnel is a Highly Useful Resource for my Landscaping Plans. Not that I won't get a Rose of Sharon for the garden one day, no no no, but first I'll tour the city and look for the plant in other people's gardens to see how it does, and what sort of conditions it does best in. I want to attract butterflies, bees, and birds to the garden but at the same time I have a distinct weakness for plants that are blue or wild shades of green or are highly-hybridized (and pollenless) oddities. The butterflies know better than to waste their time with those kinds of plants, as do the bees, so I've been working on subduing the Glitzy Gardener side of me every time I'm tempted to buy a bright blue flower bush or some ridiculously hybridized rose. And no, despite what Richard says I am not a drag queen at heart. I merely like the wild, the weird, and the unusually showy. I married him, I tell him, surely that should tell him something.


But I digress.

After that I came home and while the kids were sweeping heaps of leaves out of the carport, screaming wildly at then squishing Wolf Spiders, and restacking the wood, I emptied the last of my stash of soil, in an attempt to shore up the rock garden. These hillside garden beds need frequent applications of soil, particularly over the winter months. I could see some of the bulb tops peeking nakedly through the soil - not good if we get a late freeze. I also did a bit of fruit tree pruning. Some dormant oil spraying. And a little mulching, in which I dumped the last of the mowed leaves Richard the Thoughtful bagged for me all over the front yard bed, because it too was sagging rather ungracefully. (I'm the only one allowed to sag ungracefully around here) Just make sure you don't put mulch too close to the base of the plant; you don't want to encourage bugs to chew or climb, and you don't want the mulch to smother the base and bring on rot.

(Musical interlude)

Before I sign off, here's my Weekly Garden Tip: don't mix those eggshells with your regular compost. Save them, dry them out (I put mine on a cookie sheet that sits on the bottom rack in the oven), and store them for the spring, when you can dump the lot into the food processor. Pulverize somewhat, leaving lots of dangerously sharp edges, then sprinkle the resulting crumbley mess thickly around your tender new transplants as protection against the slugs and snails.

Even better, it'll compost into your soil afterwards. No chemical slug bait can make such a boast.

Here's the container I keep mine in (thanks to a friend). If you thoroughly dry the shells before storing them, they don't smell, either. And every time they threaten to overwhelm the container, get a wooden spoon and mash them down.

I am nothing if not terribly high tech.

(End of transmission)

* If you live in the Pacific Northwest like I do, check out KUOW's Tuesday Greendays Gardening Panel. I podcast it because it comes on smack dab in the middle of the school day, but it's on live as well.


sheila said...

Oh honestly, what IS George Michael's butt doing on your blog? Does he garden or something?

Lesasgarden said...

I have really enjoyed reading your blog this past year and have thought to comment but never get around to it.
Anyways, I DID plant the Rose of Sharon in my garden this year, even though I was given the same advice. I went to Minter Gardens and they had one planted in the woods and it was big, bushy and BEAUTIFUL. I was told to plant it against the house to protect it (but I didn't have the room, so I planted it near the house instead). I'm crossing my fingers that it will survive.

Vivian said...

Wolf spiders? Aack!

You should make a podcast or YouTube video. Bet it would be fabulous.