Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Update from Zone 3A

It is getting to be-- well, not spring, that's too strong a word; but warmer outside, and the perennials in my raised beds are showing signs of life. I started seeds from scratch this year, which I have never done before, and as a pretty n00b gardener it might have been overambitious. But ever since I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I've been a bit obsessed with heirloom vegetables, and starting with seed is the only real way to get them. Plus it extends the gardening season a bit earlier, which is great. By March I am inevitably stir-crazy and depressed, and this year the seeds have been a really lovely distraction from waiting for the outdoors to warm up. I go check on them several times a day, which I guess is goofy, but I do feel a very strong sense of ownership and responsibility for them. It feels like Spring in my basement grow-op, even though outside is still pretty miserable.

So anyway, I've had good luck given my already-mentioned n00b-ness, with almost everything I planted coming up. The first peppers to sprout were wiped out in a mini-drought, and the strawberries I planted showed no signs whatsoever of being alive or, in fact, given their tininess, of even existing after I had planted them. But everything else has sprouted, and I do not allow myself to become downtrodden, for now I have 30-ish little sprouts including peppers, three kinds of tomatoes, and Armenian cucumbers (!). This past weekend I planted zucchini, and that is the last of the indoor starts, I think. In my outside beds I will plant snow peas, snap peas and regular peas; asparagus (don't know if those will grow, but we'll give it a try!), onions, some herbs, and numerous flowers. This means, if course, that I will also be building more raised beds. When we bought our house, I wonder if my husband ever thought we might have an actual yard-- or if he knew that, inevitably, the whole space would be turned into garden? Oh well. At least I haven't torn down the garage. (Yet-- I'm not saying I never will, because it actually occupies far-and-away the best part of the property, sun-wise.)

I ordered heirloom seeds from:
West Coast Seeds (in BC)
Heritage Harvest Seeds (Manitoba)
Casey's Heirloom Tomatoes (Airdrie, AB)
I am also growing lots of plants from seeds I got at the local Bedrock Seed Bank. I ordered some from their website, but I've also picked up seeds from their booth at the Strathcona Farmers' Market, and I pre-ordered a flat of their alpine strawberries which will be ready in June (after my own failure to sprout anything).

I like ordering from Canadian companies-- partly to support Canadian businesses, but also (let's face it) because I don't want to mess around with plants that won't grow here. Even the BC one made me a bit suspicious. The colder and more miserable it is in these plants' province of origin, the better. And! The seed catalogues! They're wonderful. Seed catalogues are like the future, in the sense that they are so beautifully full of promise and romance.

Because I am thrifty to the point of cheapness, I have been saving plastic food containers of all kinds over the past few months, and so in the photo above you can see the sprouts growing under roast-chicken and ice-cream-cake greenhouses. This has become a kind of running joke in our house-- you never know when I am going to want to claim something destined for the recycling for my garden. James will hold up a random piece of near-garbage and say dubiously, "do you want this for your garden?"

Yes. Yes I do.

No comments: