See what I did there?

Ever find yourself in a state when you comprehend how all the things interconnect and can actually see the threads clearly? You pick up a random book and you see how it talks to the other things you are reading? Or you get a newsletter in your email and it opens up a line of thought you’d been flirting with? That’s where I’ve been at for the last two weeks. My brain in fairly zinging. And it’s zinging so fast and so much I can’t keep up with it. I want to write it all down so I don’t forget, but when I sit down with pen and paper the zinging stops and my mind goes blank, or there is so much I can’t begin to organize a coherent thought around it. It’s exciting and frustrating. At the moment I’ve decided I just need to relax and ride the wave and maybe eventually I will wash up on shore and be able to weave it all together.

Until then, there’s the garden. Well, not really, since it is still under a lot of snow in spite of a full day of rain and many days of melting. I guess it’s more like thoughts of the garden, or proto-gardening.

two plastic just cut in half and filled with soil
mini winter planters

Last weekend I turned two old vinegar bottles into mini greenhouses for winter sowing. Two of the seeds I bought this year require cold stratification. In other words, the seeds need a period of cold before they will sprout. In one container I seeded white yarrow. For some reason the only yarrow I can ever buy is shades of pink and I really want white.

The other seed is Caucasian Mountain Spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides). It’s not really spinach. It’s a perennial vine with edible leaves that can be used like spinach, and allegedly has an even milder taste. Plus, it likes shade. I haven’t figured out exactly where I am going to plant the sprouts yet, but I have ideas. And I will probably try them out in a couple different places that get varying amounts of shade from quite a bit to just a little. Annual spring greens are such a pain in the ass, don’t do all that well in my garden, and take up space that can go to something else more productive.

Perennial spring greens, like the sorrel I purposely planted and the curly dock that moved in on its own, get going so much sooner, are more reliable, and their seeds feed the little songbirds in fall and winter. These greens I like and appreciate, mostly because once they are established I don’t need to do anything at all but eat them and they come back year after year. Nutritious food without effort, who doesn’t want a garden like that? More time to sit around and enjoy the day.

This weekend James and I biked over to Mother Earth Gardens, a local organic nursery. My seed starting trays are held together with duct tape, so I thought a new one would be a nice thing. A new bag of seed starting mix also came home with us, as did a folding pruning saw. We’ve been using a handsaw to do all of our pruning for all these years and, while it works, I’m really tired of how the wider blade often gets stuck in the branch while sawing. Given that in a few weeks there will be quite a bit of pruning happening—apple trees, hazel nut, witch hazel, elderberry—not to mention cutting off the top of Professor Plum and completely removing Walter Crabapple, an honest to goodness pruning saw seemed like a good investment.

black chicken and a brown chicken walking on a frozen garden path
Sia and Ethel

Next weekend I will be seeding Walla Walla onion and Ruby Red onion. Both are long-day varieties. Onions, in case you didn’t know, are categorized by how many hours of daylight they need in order to develop onion bulbs. Long-day means they need, well, long days, typically 14 or more hours. If you live in the south where days aren’t quite as long as they are in the north, you grow short-day onions that need only 10-12 hours of daylight to develop bulbs. There are also day-neutral varieties that can be grown in any region, but are ideal for hardiness zones 5-6, that middle swath of the United States that is not south but not north either. If you want to delve into the details of onions, Johnny’s has a helpful article to geek out on that includes maps.

Since it has been above freezing and melting two weekends in a row now, the Dashwoods and Nuggets have gotten to be out and about. They have nowhere to go except wandering back and forth down the garden path between the deck and the coop. They will sit on the deck looking in the window for a little while, then wander down the path, scratching frozen ground and drinking from snowmelt puddles. It’s not much, but they get sunshine and fresh air and all of us are happier for it.

brown chicken looking at her reflection in a window
Hello beautiful

As nice as it has been, this is fake spring. After Monday the weather will take a decidedly cold and snowy turn and we won’t be above freezing again until sometime the following week. Two steps forward, and a step back. On the bright side, it appears that our anti-rabbit fortifications are holding firm. Huzzah!

  • Article: How to go car-free–or car-light—in Middle America We are approaching one year without a car, and we continue to be really happy with our decision. The article is about how you too can ditch your car, or at least drive a lot less.
  • Article: TomDispatch: Joshua Frank, The Newest Tool of War?  Remember the hype about the fusion reaction and how fusion was going to save us from climate change and fossil fuels? Well it turns out the whole fusion stuff is really the US government working on even more powerful bombs.
  • Book: Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. My copy is the very old Penguin mass market I read as a teenager when I understood very little of the book. This time around it all makes sense and I am enjoying it immensely.
  • Book: Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson. I do a 30-40 minute strength workout twice a week and James is reading the book aloud to me while I workout.
  • Podcast: A Journey through feminist agroecology: What does feminism have to do with the food you eat? This was really good. The host talked to two women who do not speak English. They are translated in the podcast into English. So often the only people who appear on podcasts are ones who speak English, so it was great to have the perspective of the two women one from Mexico and one from Spain.
  • Podcast: Accidental Gods: Living in a post-carbon, post-capital, post-urban world–with Chris Smaje, author of A Small Farm Future. I read Smaje’s blog now and then and mean to read his book but haven’t gotten around to it. It was great to hear him talk about all the things.
  • Podcast: Movement Memos: Anti-fascists are adapting to a strange new world. If you don’t want to listen, there is also a transcript at the link. By turns fascinating and terrifying. The U.S. has always had a fascist undercurrent but it’s not so under these days. The conversation ranges widely from Trump and De Santis, to how the Democrats support fascism, to a group of about 2,000 parents who want to create “freedom schools” to teach their kids how to be good Nazis.
  • Podcast: Weaving Voices: A life woven together between shepherd and sheep. Transcript at the link, listen to the podcast on Apple or Spotify. This is a lovely episode where the host talks with three Diné shepherds about the relationship between the Diné, their Churro sheep, and weaving. Towards the end, one of the guests breaks down in tears as they describe the importance of the relationship for themself, their family and ancestors and the Diné people as a whole. Made me cry too.
  • Series: Wednesday. When I first heard about this I was not interested, thinking it was just another stupid reboot. But a coworker told me how good it was so I decided to try it. And yeah, it’s really good! Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams is fantastic. We’ve watched the first three episodes of season one so far, parceling them out. Plus it also has Christina Ricci and Gwendolyn Christie in it.

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10 thoughts on “And Sow it Begins

  1. Yes, I love seeing the connections between things. It happens a lot when my brain is alive and I’m not exhausted like I am now, and I love it.

    As I think I’ve said we are downsizing, and one of the things we are looking forward to is the fact that our new place will be 500 metres from shops and cafes, and from the interstate train (to Sydney). We don’t have a suburban train system in our city though we have the beginning of a light rail network. However, the bus into the main city centre has a stop right outside our building. We can see ourselves reducing our car use significantly. When we visit Melbourne, we use our car to visit our son and family because they are not on good public transport networks, but almost everything else we do there we use the train/tram/bus network. Our kids who grew up in our car-oriented city don’t quite understand our pleasure in not having to drive, find parking etc, but our little grandson loves our public transport adventures.

  2. Your garden plans make me want to make plans of my own! Although I know I don’t have the time to do a lot. But I want to do at least one vegetable in addition to herbs and flowers. Earlier I was thinking watermelon but decided I don’t have the space for them to spread out. Now I’m leaning towards yellow squash. I love seeing your chickens exploring!

    1. I endorse garden planning Laila! Yeah watermelon will spread out. I really liked the yellow crookneck squash I grew last year. It’s quite tasty and the squash is lumpy and kind of funny looking 🙂

  3. Interesting! We are starting to plan the garden… Keith wants to grow onions, scallions, and broccoli. I am thinking lettuce, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers. And maybe something fun like an unusual squash or something. We are expecting snow later this week as well, but hopefully only an overnight dose, quickly melting the next day. I am ready — if not for summer, then for spring at least, with time to sit outside!

  4. Now that’s an effective cliffhanger! I look forward to hearing about the interconnectedness you’ve been experiencing and thinking about. The Caucasian Mountain Spinach sounds wonderful, and we get a lot of Walla Walla onions here at the farmer’s markets and they are delicious. I hope they do well for you. The older I get the more I appreciate Le Guin’s work and her wisdom, she’s a writer I turn to when feeling despondent about the way the world is going these days, her calm perspective is a tonic.

    1. LOL Jule, always leave ’em wanting! 😉 Oh that’s nice to hear about the wall walla onions. I’ve not seen them here so I am hoping they are successful! Le Guin never ceases to amaze me. That calm perspective is a tonic for sure! Not that everything is going to work out just fine, but yeah, I guess it’s her wisdom but also, more than that and I can’t find the words 🙂

  5. We also just started watching Wednesday, the first two episodes so far.
    I’ve been thinking of you while reading The Deluge. It reminded me a lot of The Ministry for the Future, which I like better now than I did when I first finished it.
    The parts of The Deluge about the people who use violent means to get their way about the preservation of our environment give me the willies.

    1. I put Deluge on my TBR list Jeanne. I hope you continue to enjoy Wednesday! We’ve made it up through parents’ weekend 😀

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