Worth It

There are times that I am honestly tempted to ditch this large, unwieldy garden I’ve managed to make for myself, to just release myself from all the weeding and watering and pruning. But fortunately there are the other times, when ripe strawberries or peas or tomatoes nudge me in exactly the opposite direction.

All Good Things

Years ago, Dave did a beautiful job of installing trellises for our espaliered fruit trees in the front yard. This was not a simple task, especially since (being Dave) he insisted on getting them all lined up precisely. They have looked beautiful ever since.

But this winter, some impressive winds and the moisture that saturates the ground for ten months out of the year worked together, and showed us that even pressure-treated wood can only last so long. Three of the beds have now lost a post, eaten away at ground level.

It’s unfortunate that two of the three beds held apple trees, because of all the fruit trees, the apples are the wobbliest. The plums and cherries support themselves pretty well, the pears are still just getting started, and the apricot is a wild, half-tamed beast that not only doesn’t need support, it refuses to submit to structure. But three of the apple trees in the affected beds have either snapped off at the base or been too weak to hold themselves up.

C’est la vie. We have pulled out the downed wood and the broken trees, and are now debating on how to move forward.

Spring

daffodils

I love this time of year! There have been occasional Winter-Is-Over days lately (interspersed with plenty of Just-Kidding days), and I’ve been out pulling weeds, belatedly pruning, and planting some seeds. I think it says something about human nature that dreaming about future harvests is almost as enjoyable as actually harvesting.

Wins And Losses

Despite a certain need for pruning, the fruit trees in our front yard have been outdoing themselves this year — the apple and plum trees in particular are loaded down with fruit, so much so that many of the more slender apple branches are pointing at the ground. It’s always wonderful to watch a heavy crop of fruit growing and know that in a month or two it will be sweet and tasty.

Anything Mica doesn’t get before then, anyway. She’s pretty excited about the picking-fruit-off-trees concept, and, like all young children, sees no real reason to wait for some distant and possibly mythical stage called “ripe.”

apples1

apples2

plums

Our vegetable beds in the back have not fared quite so well this year. I had a brilliant idea this spring, an idea that seemed so perfect that in retrospect it could only be flawed. I decided to put in a row of flowers between the tomatoes, in the very back of my beds, and the greens and bush beans in the front. In itself this didn’t need to be a problem, if I’d carefully chosen compact flowering plants that would stay only a foot high. Instead I ordered packets of bee and hummingbird attracting flowers from Territorial.

garden1

garden2

They have grown with vigor and loveliness, and some of them (notably the delphinium and oriental poppies) I have really been enjoying. I may even try to transplant a few to other parts of the garden. But what haven’t grown this year are my tomatoes, which were overshadowed early on and have been fighting a losing battle for light.

The Garden

roses

I love spring in the garden. I love seedlings and sweet peas, bees busy at the marionberries, strawberry blossoms and that first flush of roses. The kids and I ate a few overwintered snap peas the other day — our first harvest of the year. I’ve just seeded cucumbers and pumpkins, and it’s time for the corn to go in.

So much possibility, so little time…

First Blooms

blooms

It’s inevitable that, sometime near the end of winter, we get a little taste of spring. Some fifty (or sixty!) degree days, sometimes even accompanied by sunshine, settle in and pretend that winter is just about over. This is dangerous weather; it can fool the trees into unfurling too early, potentially making them vulnerable to a March freeze.

It’s also dangerous because some of us start to get gardening fever, and want to start planting things. Right now I am restraining myself by focusing my energies into planning — drawing out my garden map, creating a detailed (and rational) timeline of gardening tasks, and trying to remind myself that with planting inevitably comes weeding and watering.

Oh, but it’s so, so tempting…

Soft Warm Earth

For Christmas this year one of my gifts was an herb planter box, and last week, when I had some unexpected alone time with Ryan, he helped me plant it.

planting1

The coolest part of the experience was arguably the two little disks of compressed earth, which, when warm water was added, expanded into about twenty times their volume of rich black dirt, releasing the unmistakable scent of summer rainfall. And there is nothing like the tactile experience of having my hands in warm loamy earth. I put my hands in initially simply to mix it up and make sure the disks had completely expanded; and I kept stirring much longer than necessary because it sank me wrist-deep into the delicious sensation of summer gardening.

I let Ryan choose one of the seed packets to plant. He chose dill, arguably the one I’m least likely to use, but in the gardening euphoria of the moment I let it be. We worked together to “tuck in” the basil, cilantro, and dill seeds, and I explained that it would be several weeks before we saw anything, which he accepted with almost good grace.

planting2

Coincidentally, my Territorial Seed catalog just arrived. This is a dangerous combination. Sinking my hands into dirt just before looking at a seed catalog has the same psychological effect as sampling cookies just before walking into a kitchen store.