Saturday, January 31, 2009

January musings

     Now that the holidays are over and a refreshing new Presidential administration has taken the reins of power in Washington, my attention turns once again to the coming garden season. 
     I would be out in the garden now, pulling weeds, were it not for the six inches of snow and ice blanketing the ground. Still, one does what one can in these zone 6 conditions, which these days consists of curling up on the sofa, a pot of Grace Rare Tea Company tea (Assam being the current favorite) at the ready, and pouring through the stacks of seed catalogues that have arrived. I am tempted by the catalogues that offer discounts for early orders, or minimum expenditures that would consume much of my seed budget. And yet, I enjoy taking my time to decide what to order, then spreading my largesse around among a variety of suppliers. Indeed, it is tricky to decide who to choose from, when so many companies offer premium organic, and heirloom varieties. Still, one mustn't wait too long, lest a preferred variety sells out.
     I ask myself, "which new vegetables will I try this year," and "what was a success in the past?" Of course, it is helpful to take inventory of the seeds that are left over from last year, or that were gathered in and saved for this year. Then too, I consult one of the several maps I make over the course of the gardening season, especially of the "potager" to learn what grew where, and when. "Gardening is map-making," I always say; the goal being to anticipate how I might rotate my crops and companion plant for the most bountiful, floriferous beds.
      Indeed, the garden I encounter this Spring will be different in substantial ways from the one I started with last Spring, and not only because of the plantings. For one, the selection of tools available with which to work the land has improved considerably, thanks to my aunt Freda, who bequeathed to us most of the gardening implements left to her by her in-laws, Charlie and Inez Williams. They range from the simple, like a shovel for planting, to the somewhat arcane, like the thatching rake that has sat unused in her garage since Charlie bought it more than thirty years ago.  We were on the verge of buying a spreader until this trove of tools came along.   
     Nor shall I overlook our recent auction acquisitions, including a charming bench, strawberry pots and an armillary sphere and pedestal, each of which must finds its place in the garden. 
     This Spring I will have the benefit of my own hives of honey bees, Apis Melifera, which I got last March in fulfillment of a decades old dream.  Having the bees has been one of those "Wonderland" experiences, where the more I learn about them, the more there is to learn.  What they accomplish on a daily basis is nothing short of miraculous. I will have them, along with the Praying Mantises and Butterflies who make our garden home to thank for pollinating our crops and flowers.

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