Saturday, January 31, 2009

Waiting for Spring

This week we attended the second session of a two-part program on Sustainable Small-Scale Vegetable Production given by our local cooperative extension. The organizers were really excited because they had a record turn out! It was just an introduction to the concepts of sustainable farming, so none of the speakers went into a lot of detail, but what they stressed repeatedly was the need to plan carefully, and the importance of soil testing. Luckily, a soil test kit was included in the price of attendance! Once the soil thaws out this spring, we'll definitely be out back digging up a sample, and we'll be back here with the results. If you haven't already looked up your local cooperative extension, you should - they have tons of resources and people who can answer almost any question you might have about growing things.

All this talk about growing vegetables was in stark contrast to the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures we've been having. Luckily, seed starting time has arrived, which is keeping me from going completely stir-crazy! Last weekend I started a flat of alpine stawberry seeds. Most strawberries are planted as crowns and spread by runners, but alpines (aka fraises des bois) spread by seed and are great for urban gardeners because they don't need a lot of space, and can do well even without a lot of direct sun. They take about 30 days to germinate, according to the seed packet, so we'll have to be patient while we wait for signs of life from these tiny seeds.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dreaming Big in 2009!

A new year has begun, and you know what that means: seed catalogs galore! It may seem as if the Gardener and Gardeness have been neglecting their readers lately, but we have in fact been very busy working on blog-worthy projects these past two months. One of those projects has been diligently perusing our catalogs and planning this year's garden. We've been dreaming big, and our order lists are ambitious! We'll be procuring the majority of our seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange for several reasons: they're a non-profit organization with proceeds going towards the preservation of heirloom varieties, they offer many rare and interesting seeds, and their prices are very competitive. We have also decided to plant only open pollinated varieties, so that we can try to save seeds for next year. Not only that, but we've also decided to be really brave and try growing things like asparagus, strawberries, and onions all from seed - no crowns or sets here! Oh boy, wish us luck!

In other news, in our search to find entertainment without a cable subscription, we recently discovered a wonderful old sitcom on Netflix, and have been watching it voraciously. It's a British program from the mid 1970s called "The Good Life," (also called Good Neighbors) in which Tom, along with his wife Barbara, decides to quit his corporate job and start a farm in their suburban back yard in an effort to become totally self-sufficient. They till up the lawn, plant lots of veggies, get chickens, pigs and a goat, and build an electric generator that runs on methane, all to the disdain and amusement of their snobby friends and next door neighbors. We recommend it highly!

Stay tuned, as we hope to announce more of our aforementioned projects, both BIG and small, in the coming weeks! For now, please keep your fingers crossed for us! Happy 2009!