Saturday, February 13, 2010

Danged Groundhog

I hate the winter.

I mean, not really, really hate, but it’s definitely not my favorite season. Aside from the snowy fun goodness that we’ve been having for the past few days (all the snow is melted from the trees, the houses and all but the shadiest of yards, but my snowmen still linger on, falling apart like some kind of weird science project gone awry), winter pretty much sucks. My skin gets beyond dry—I itch like you wouldn’t believe. My lips get so chapped that they bleed. My hair gets oily and gross. I eat way more in winter, thus I’m plumped up in my heavy, uncomfortable winter clothes.

I hate winter.

Now spring, on the other hand, is magical for me. I always thought I liked fall the best, what with it’s crackly leaves and crisp air, but I think that spring has overtaken it now that I am actively gardening. While both seasons have the crispiness that I crave, the tang of something special in the air, fall only leads to dead looking trees while spring brings flowers aplenty, birds by the scores and , if you will excuse the moment of glurgy, maudlen sentimentality, a sense of rebirth and new beginnings everywhere you look.

Spring makes my heart beat faster. It makes my skin glow.

Spring makes me happy.

I have begun gardening in earnest the past few years. I’ve always kind of fancied myself a putterer, but I’ve never really done anything much that was impressive. Most of the time, when I would plant things I would get bored with them pretty quickly and they would die a sad, horrible, dry, unloved death.

Last year, though, I stumbled on the concept of lasagna gardening and it has changed my gardening life. I built up a small bed in the back yard over a few days; the necessary work could have easily been done in a weekend, but I was about a month post-partum and, well, I got tired. Anyhoo, I got the bed built up, got some plants in it and then kind of forgot about it. Watered it a few times when the thought occurred to me (usually when it was a really pretty day and I was heading home from work and thought that I would like to go in the backyard and experience my garden).

And the plants grew. And grew. And grew.

Some of them had not so successful fates—my melons pretty much bit the dust, but considering that they have to be watered religiously, I knew they were an exercise in futility for me anyway. My tomatoes, though, went crazy. I had tomatoes on the vine through the first big cold snap of the year, back in November. My squash and zucchini were impressive (some might say intimidating >:) ) and made many a wonderful meal.

This year, I’m going bigger. I’m planting the entire side of the fence that my tiny garden was on last year. Essentially, it will be about three times larger. I also intend to build a small raised bed in the front yard where the butt-ugly boxwoods resided until right before the holidays (Merry Christmas to me!). I’m thinking blueberries, gardenias and any flowers that wink at me when I’m at the gardening center.

In a more immediate sense, I’m trying seed starting this year. I’ve kind of half-arsed tried it before, but it never worked as well as I would have liked. It seems that plants don’t much care for being moved from one container to the ground. Sensitive little brats.

This year, though, I decided to try something to avoid the shock of transplanting. I recycled some newspaper and some water bottles to make easy, biodegradable planters. I first cut off the tops of the bottles, sticking them in the recycling bin (although a few got used as funnels somewhere along the way). I then cut little slashes around the top of the bottle bottoms, about one inch in. (I did this so that when I go to remove the inner pots later, they will expand easily—it will make sense, I promise!) At this point, you want to poke a few holes in the bottoms of the bottles. I waited until I had the newspaper and soil in, but it would have been much easier to do at this phase. Use anything pokey you’ve got—an ice pick, your husband’s awl from his Swiss Army Knife (my tool of choice this time!), whatever—and poke a few holes. The larger the container, the more holes you want, but don’t put so many that you end up letting all your water drain out. But make sure you get a few holes in there—soggy roots are a bad thing.

I took one quarter of a sheet from the newspaper (or one half of one of the single pages) and folded the corners in towards the center, creating a smaller square. I smooshed this square, folded side down, into the bottles and kind of mushed it around to fit the inner space, creating a small paper cup shape inside the bottle. (I know there are tutorials out there for making a newspaper planter, origami style, but I didn’t find them until I had decided to do this technique. Live and learn. :) )


I then filled up the pots with potting soil and placed them in containers lined with plastic. One batch went into a lettuce container from the grocery store while the other one went to a box that I lined with a bread bag I had opened along one long side seam and the end. (Yeah, I know there’s no lining bag in the second photo—I hadn’t put it in at that point and was too lazy to go back and shoot it again. Use your imagination.)



That’s pretty much it. They have seeds in them now and are under a heating lamp for 12 hours a day in my garage. I’m going to put a squirt bottle next to them and hit them with a few squirts every day. I also intend to cover them with a thin layer of plastic—saran wrap, whatever—to keep the heat and moisture in, until they start budding up a bit. When the cold has passed completely, I’ll be pulling the newspaper part out and burying it directly in the soil, thus negating the need to touch the roots at all. The cuts I made in the plastic bottles should make the pulling out bit much easier.

So, what is everyone else doing, garden-wise? Is anyone else chomping at the bit to be out planting? Am I the only one dreaming of seed catalogues and their myriad selections of plants?

No comments:

Post a Comment