Finding Ease: Tip #1

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

The gardening season here in the ‘North’ is starting to ramp up which means that, as someone who works in the garden retail industry, my work hours are starting to increase and my work week lengthen. That’s great for the bank account but, unless I’m careful, will wreak havoc with my garden and all my plans for this season. So, I’ve decided to look at all the little ways that I can streamline my gardening…without losing any of the joy, of course.

Sweet Pea 'Matucana'; Grown 2 years ago without inoculant.

Sweet Pea 'Matucana'; Grown 2 years ago without inoculant.

Tip #1 is the ‘aha’ moment from yesterday when, while looking through my seed packets to determine what next needed to be sown inside, I came across some sweet pea and Brazilian verbena seeds. Either flower can be started inside or sown directly into the soil outside but both flower earlier and, in the case of the perennial verbena, are hardier when sown inside. The trouble is that sowing inside is more time-consuming (potting up and hardening-off are two steps not necessary when sowing outside) and I save my precious time for plants like peppers and tomatoes that, unless started inside, will not produce anything due to our short growing season. So, I decided the risk was worth it and I’ll sow them directly outside when the weather warms up a bit (can you believe we still have a bit of snow?).

To cover my bets a bit, I’ll inoculate my sweet pea seeds. Inoculant contains Rhizobia bacteria which helps the members of the legume family (such as peas and beans) fix nitrogen from the air which makes them more productive. This bacteria is less active in cooler soils and, since sweet peas are always sown in the early spring when the soil is just this side of unfrozen, a little more of the Rhizobia will only be helpful.

The Brazilian verbena, however, is on its own.

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Tied Up

Friday, July 23rd, 2010
Lashing for the tomato supports as a metaphor for my life? Or am I overthinking this?

Lashing for the tomato supports as a metaphor for my life? Or am I overthinking this?

This post’s title refers as much to me and my time as it does to the tomatoes. I’ve been wanting to write about, what I think is, an elegant solution to supporting tomatoes but have been struggling to find the time to put it together. And it’s had me thinking about how the kitchen garden is working within the framework of a balanced lifestyle, one where I have the time to spend on the people and relationships and things that are important to me. It’s a thought process that I’m sure many people are familiar with (although we all arrive at different conclusions). For me, planting a kitchen garden is part of how I balance my ‘work’ and ‘play’…I’ve decided I don’t like categorizing my activities like that – ‘work’ should be playful and ‘play’ can become work too easily – but it’s a commonly understood shorthand to how we view ‘things we have to do’ (for survival) and ‘things we choose to do’ (for pleasure). 

I don’t have to grow a kitchen garden for survival. In these days where we fear for our food security, it’s a common enough reason that people give for growing their own food (and, in some scenarios, a completely valid one) but it’s not my motivation.

I don’t have to grow a kitchen garden so I can eat ‘organic’ produce. I do garden sustainably without the use of synthetic, petroleum-based substances (except from my car) but it’s because it’s cheaper – compost is free fertilizer – and easier -a balanced ecosystem takes care of itself. And okay, it’s satisfying to know that I’m ingesting a few less chemicals when I eat from my garden.

I don’t have to grow a kitchen garden to save money on the grocery bill. It just so happens that I buy fewer groceries but again, it’s not my primary motivation.

I choose to grow a kitchen garden for the creating, the nurturing, the tasting, the pure pleasure of it all. I am not romanticizing the effort involved – the dirt, the sweat, the bugs, the fact that gardening is as much about dispensing death as it is about nurturing life – but, at the end of the day, it is one of the things in my life that brings me the most soul satisfaction; it is my ‘play’ time.

This blog is too. But, unfortunately, the thing that I have to do (work) is sapping the energy I need for the thing I choose to do (writing). So, of course, the only conclusion I can reach is that the work thing is going to have to change.

Stay tuned for how (if) I can manage to get more play from my work (and for the post on how to support tomatoes)…