Wednesday, May 21, 2014


We seem to be moving into the warm-ish and dry season -- temperatures in the high 70s in the daytime, clear weather, lots of sun. I was out of town for a few days and came back to all sorts of things enjoying the weather: my fruit trees have finished blooming and are thinking about fruit; the tiny blueberry bushes are putting out some blossoms; the strawberries are blossoming and starting to set fruit; the lilies in the kitchen bed are approaching waist-high and budding. And the tomatoes, which have been living inside, are growing like mad.

Monday I was home from my trip but had taken the day off work, planning to use it for recovery time. Only I also scheduled the electrician to come out and do the panel replacement work I'd need before I got the heat pump in, so they had to turn the power off for a considerable fraction of the day. Which means no internet! No video games! Time to go outside and work on things!

I ripped a lot of weeds out of the front garden beds, enough to make them actually look like garden beds instead of mysterious tangles of non-grass foliage. Then I stirred a bit of compost into the cleared spots and planted some feverfew, borage, and bee balm seeds. We'll see how they do! It's not the sunniest spot on the property but actually gets a decent amount of light when the sun isn't directly south (i.e., mornings and late afternoons). I neglected to take any pictures of that bit, but I did take a gratuitous bee photo since there were several cute little fuzzbees hanging around the azaleas while I worked next to them:

I have a frustrating, irrational phobia of stinging insects—not an allergy, just a tendency to freeze up and panic—so I'm absurdly proud of myself for being able to stay calm with these guys in arm's reach and buzzing around. (...Yesterday I saw what looked like a yellowjacket on steroids in a different bed, and wow you bet I got out of there in a hurry.)

Still no power! So I got the hoe out of the tool shed and went back to the vegetable garden, where there are some nice clear spots but also a good deal of overgrown weedy areas that have been neglected for a while. I have trouble bringing myself to clear them out when I don't have plans for them; it seems pointless to create patches of bare dirt just for the sake of it. But I do have more things to put in the garden, so this patch needed to go.

I cleared an area maybe 3x5, by hand, with the hoe and then my little handheld cultivating fork. Then I went inside and lay on the floor for a while, staring at the ceiling and wondering how anyone ever managed to be a peasant.

Later, once the crisis of faith had passed and also the sun was past its zenith, I planted out the enormous greenhouse-started tomatoes I bought at Minter's:

There's "garden peach," a cherry type, "green zebra," my roommate's favorite for fresh eating, and "gold rave," a mini-roma. In front of them are some "disco red" marigolds. And in front of those is a patch of what is probably another variety of parsley; the gardens are overflowing with the stuff everywhere.

Okay but the day was not yet done. (I obviously needed to relax after twenty or so hours on planes and in airports over the previous few days.) So I started a few more seeds! Because it really is still just the start of the warm season. And the peppers I started claim they only need 60 days to mature.

And the Department of Whimsy and Experimentation got involved, too; Baker Creek had cotton seeds for sale. So I bought some. It's entirely possible we won't have the heat units to bring a crop to fruition, but why not try.

The first pic is one of the raw bolls as they came out of the seed packet; in the second pic you can see, at left, where I've pulled a few of the seeds out for planting. Even just extracting a dozen seeds from the fluff for replanting, I can already see why the invention of a machine to improve that process was so monstrously important to the industry. It's not hard work, but it's slow and fiddly.

...Ann, if I do actually get a cotton harvest, I'm totally going to want spinning pointers.

And thus—plus the not-pictured additional plantings—concludes my day off! Any time when I am not actively despairing of being a peasant, I am dreaming bigger than my 10,000 square feet will allow, wanting outbuildings and dedicated growing rooms and livestock and and and. One step at a time, self.

Closing with a link to one of the humbling and inspirational people I read for homesteading chronicles, Jenna Wogrinich of Cold Antler Farm, who had a post recently that reminded me of something I can't hear often enough: anything worth doing right is worth doing wrong first. It's all a learning process. Try, fail, learn, adjust, try again.

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