Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Time To Laugh

 My apologies for being absent these three weeks.  Life has been busy, especially in the garden and more to come about starting seeds, preparing the garden, etc.

However, I wanted to share this great poem from Geoffrey B. Charlesworth that I'm reblogging from A Way To Garden.  For every gardener who's lost a plant, a row of seedlings, a tree, whatever, this poem will make you laugh through your (frustrated) memories!

Why Did My Plant Die?
Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
(reposted from A Way To Garden)

You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You hoed it down. You weeded it.
You planted it the wrong way up.
You grew it in a yogurt cup
But you forgot to make a hole;
The soggy compost took its toll.
September storm. November drought.
It heaved in March, the roots popped out.
You watered it with herbicide.
You scattered bonemeal far and wide.
Attracting local omnivores,
Who ate your plant and stayed for more.
You left it baking in the sun
While you departed at a run
To find a spade, perhaps a trowel,
Meanwhile the plant threw in the towel.
You planted it with crown too high;
The soil washed off, that explains why.
Too high pH. It hated lime.
Alas it needs a gentler clime.
You left the root ball wrapped in plastic.
You broke the roots. They’re not elastic.
You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You splashed the plant with mower oil.
You should do something to your soil.
Too rich. Too poor. Such wretched tilth.
Your soil is clay. Your soil is filth.
Your plant was eaten by a slug.
The growing point contained a bug.
These aphids are controlled by ants,
Who milk the juice, it kills the plants.
In early spring your garden’s mud.
You walked around! That’s not much good.
With heat and light you hurried it.
You worried it. You buried it.
The poor plant missed the mountain air:
No heat, no summer muggs up there.
You overfed it 10-10-10.
Forgot to water it again.
You hit it sharply with the hose.
You used a can without a rose.
Perhaps you sprinkled from above.
You should have talked to it with love.
The nursery mailed it without roots.
You killed it with those gardening boots.
You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Women, Farms & Food Conference, 2012 and First Free Seed Start Giveaway Contest!

Imagine a large, comfortable room filled with 90 women on a sunny Saturday morning in Mount Vernon, WA.   They're young, they're middle aged,   they're retired and raising sheep to mow their lawns. It's a multi-cultural group. Actually, these women are from as far away as British Columbia and Duvall, though most are from Whatcom, Skagit, Island and northern Snohomish County. They are here with a purpose:  to learn as much as they can about successful strategies for sustaining small farms.

The energy is palpable.  The women understand that there is a big gap in the market for small and midsized farms. The question is how to be successful, and during the morning we are blessed with excellent speakers who tackle that huge question succinctly:

  • Lyn Garling (Over The Moon Farm)

  • Shelly Muzzall (3 Sisters Family Farms)

  • Serena Hedlin (Hedlin Family Farms)

  • Patricia Lovejoy (Arlington Garden Treasures)

  • They encourage us:  The public wants to know where their food comes from, they want to know their food is safe, that they are eating "real food."  Communities like ours support their local farmers, and want to know their farmer.  Their comments included: "You have to know your numbers," "Remember to be grateful every day," "Direct marketing must include social media, including Facebook, your website, a blog and Linked-In."

    This conference also had audience breakout groups, and these terrific women shared great information (start your peppers and tomatoes now inside or in greenhouses to have vigorous healthy plants when it warms up), the best farmer's markets, how getting certified as an organic farm, etc.

    After a very delicious lunch catered by Cafe Burlington (check out their website and try them-great philosophy and food), "recovered procrastinator" Rita Emmett shared invaluable tips to make us more productive. 
      I loved this slide with a quote from Michael Jordan.
    Thanks to WSU, we all took home an autographed copy The Procrastinator's Handbook; Mastering the Art of Doing It Now.
    So I've come home to Tiny Tim's Garden determined to give back the generosity I received today--and try out my greenhouse.  So, I'm announcing my First Whatcom County Seed Starts Giveaway Contest.  Here's how it works:  Monday I'm going to plant spinach, Swiss Chard, cabbage, chives and the other plants recommended by The starts should be nice and strong and ready to plant by mid - late March.

    To win, leave me a comment with the three starts you'd most like to have ready to plant in your garden.  Tiny Tim and I will pick the winner at random. So good luck, and if you're a gardener, don't forget to check out the WSU Extension website for great info.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Occupy vs. Monsanto: Activists, Farmers Fight the Corporation They Fear Will Take Over All America's Crops | | AlterNet

    I'm a gardener. I love the sheer variety of seeds, especially heirloom seeds, saved over generations.

    I'm also thrifty, and enjoy saving seeds because that saves me money. The idea that any company limits the right of a farmer or gardener to save seeds by genetically engineering the seeds so the farmer has to shell out hard earned dollars every years strikes me as a terrible form of capitalism.

    I'm not sure scientific "answers" are healthy. Too many people die, years later, from science gone wrong, and there's never enough money or interest in doing long term research.

    I'm a gardener. Count me as one of the 99% and I hope you read this post from Alternet.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Community Seed Swap--What A Gift!

     Hats off to Sustainable Bellingham's Community Seed Day!  For a gardener who loves germinating vegetables and flowers, this was the equivalent of Christmas, hitting the lottery and going to the best party ever.  For everyone who cares about preserving heirloom varieties, eating non-GMO food and living more sustainably, the Community Seed Day is a rare and precious event.

    I got up at 5:30 to sort through my seeds and package the ones I wanted to share.  Between the vegetables and herbs, I had 32 small labeled packets as well as 20 seed potatoes. James, my wonderful neighbor and fellow gardener to the north, met me outside his house, and we arrived at the Majestic right at 1:00 pm.  Inside, the party had already begun:
     Bellingham Gardeners at play!

    Altogether, the organizers had set up three rows of conference tables with four tables in each row, as well as six large round tables on the perimeter.   I quickly unloaded my little seed packets and potatoes, and people swarmed up, curious about my varieties and the seed companies.  As soon as people heard Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Gourmet Seeds International, Renee's Garden Seeds, and Territorial Seed Company, they helped themselves.  Most people had never heard of The Maine Potato Lady, and I got some good natured ribbing about my carbon footprint at Sustainable Bellingham.  However, the potatoes pile dwindled fast, leaving me free to take a deep breath and get my gifts.

    I call them gifts because no money changes hands:  all the seeds were free.  Amazing, right?  They're gifts from people who love to garden and have bounty to share, and no one cares whether you are a genuine "seed swapper" or someone looking to find great seeds for your 2012 garden. 

    And what great seeds and varieties I found.  First, along with 100 other attendees, I have to thank  Irish Eyes Garden Seeds from Ellensburg, WA for donating their unsold 2011 seeds to Sustainable Bellingham.  The vegetable seed packets I got were organic, and many were heirloom varieties--score!   One good turn deserves another, so I will be ordering German Butterball seed potatoes from Irish Eyes this week.  Their potatoes are Washington State Certified disease-free and suitable for use as seeds.  Next year, my carbon footprint won't look so bad!

    As I went up and down the tables, my grin kept getting bigger and bigger, as I saw the amazing vegetable seeds available.  

    Local farmers brought bags of leftover seeds from Fedco and other sources, and most delightful of all, people brought in all kinds of seeds they had saved themselves.

    There were serious hills of saved beans:  pole, bush, runner--you name it.

    Imagine:  free potatoes,  garlic and dahlias for the taking!
    My fellow gardeners and I tried to be  respectful and unselfish, taking small handfuls of seeds  tucking them into envelopes kindly provided by the sponsors, and making sure we labeled them accurately to avoid a future catastrophe (eek, what seed is this!). 

    Some packets looked like they had been donated from local stores; for example, I picked up an unopened packet of Territorial Seed Company's  2011 Gourmet Salad mix.  Other seeds had come from home stashes; I don't think anyone took home the 2001 lettuce seeds, but most seeds were much more recent.  Here's a tip from a local farmer:

    "The bigger the seed, the longer it will keep.  The tiny seeds, like lettuce and radishes probably won't germinate after a couple years." 

    All in all, I had a blast, met some great people and  came home with 48 (GULP) different varieties of vegetable and herb seeds. Call me crazy, but the Community Seed Day is my idea of a great time.