The Root

One gardener’s quest to get to the bottom of it all.

Growing Again December 16, 2008

Playing with dirt

Almost eating dirt

This weekend I pulled out the dirt and the seeds and I started some lettuce, arugula, chard, spinach. It was very rewarding to have a tiny helper who was all too willing to get her hands dirty with the project. And it was wonderful to smell soil again.

It’s the heart of winter — cold blue outdoors until 7:30 am, on overcast days, and this town just shook off an ice storm that slicked every last twig and lasted for days.

But we might just (knocking on wood, not counting any chickens) have homegrown salad soon. I have had the urge for several weeks to grow greens right here at home — maybe on the balcony in some elaborate miniature hothouse contraption, maybe under the dreaded, sap- and soul-sucking fake lights…or maybe, as it turns out, on the living room windowsill. That might do just fine.

Midwinter lettuce sprouts

Sprinting to the head of the class is some red leaf lettuce, which sprouted in three days and earned a place on said windowsill. This is pretty exciting stuff. The arugula and chard are sending up spindly shoots, over on a top shelf of the media center.

This is all it takes. I am already imagining a pea plant on the windowsill, sending tendrils all the way up to the curtain rod. Freya and I will eat snap peas for breakfast. I will just keep trying until it works, until some vegetable grows green enough to eat. Dude. Nothing like optimism on a sub-freezing day.


Oh, Girl! November 18, 2008

What a couple of incommunicado months. Sheesh. Is this still a blog? Yeah, but it’s a blog about a dedicated spring gardener who became an extremely negligent fall gardener.

(Wow, I had to test-drive that new feature! Nice.)

Dudes, I don’t even want to rehash the sad story of “the harvest.” In my case, it played out like a horror flick. Or, you know, I remember first hearing about the hunger-relief program Second Harvest — now, I’m confident that they work wonders, but, in my world, their name has always sounded like a euphemism for regurgitation. That’s how it was in my garden this fall, yo; harvest became a euphemism for what I was doing: clawing through blighted and blackened tomatoes just so I could salvage some seeds; letting the countless tomatilloes soften on the vine after determining that I don’t really like their taste. Then there was the lone pumpkin that harvested itself / fell to the ground, from whence I tried to gather it and instead came away with the softened stem in my hand (I lugged it home, anyway, where it turned foul within three days). Oh, the saga.

Well, it can’t get much worse next year! Optimism levels on the rebound. Should be good-to-go by springtime. I am seriously reconsidering what I will grow, though. I’ll always enjoy fresh salad greens, and having so much zucchini will always be a wonderful reason to bake more chocolate zucchini cake (kudos, kudos, kudos). But, the tomatoes? Sheesh, guys, I really didn’t dig them that much. They are, in my book, the most beautiful seedlings, and we did get some delicious mouthsful of the Black Krim that honestly did taste like red wine. But, holy crap, the blight! The interminable wait for the first ripe one! And then the same wait for the next! And then I just got thoroughly depressed by the idea of schlepping over to the plot again just to pick maybe one ‘mato that would end up mouldering on the countertop, anyway (why? They kind of give me indigestion after noon)!

I miserably failed at Tomato Husbandry, yo, and Pumpkin Husbandry was like a “D-“.

The wondrous counterweight to all the rampant garden negligence is the unstoppable thriving of babygirl Freya. She now eats with two fists; and has a sort-of wrinkled-nose, “Hey, I’m on to you!” expression, along with countless others; and crawls with such amazing gusto that you can hear her coming from two rooms away. Her first words after “Mama” and “Dada” were “Hi” and “Wow.” How wonderful is that. When we get up in the morning, she waves to the world outside the window. The girl literally greets the day. How amazing is she?

Last night I was trying to chop up some herbs with a dull knife and she got so excited about the big bunch of cilantro. At the risk of projecting too much of my own enthusiasms onto her young self, I dare say the girl likes green things.

Here’s to more goofy updates before the next growing season. Can’t wait to read what you all have been doing.