Tag: Gardening

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My 90-year-old dad had some wise advice for Putin this morning when he heard that Russia had invaded Ukraine, “Putin should go home and plant a garden. Then he could feed the hungry instead of making more people hungry.” Sadly, I doubt that Putin will follow Dad’s advice. Preview Open

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The Snowman Cometh

 

Thirty-five years ago, Mr. She and I sold our house in one of Pittsburgh’s lowest-rent districts, moved ourselves into a tent in a field in Washington County, PA, where our prospective new home was nothing more than a hole in the ground, and started to build.

I’m sure the neighbors thought we were nuts.  Nevertheless, this area breeds stoicism and a fine sense of history, so they probably realized that–wherever we fell on the continuum of deranged behavior–we were fairly harmless; many of them befriended us, and more that a few of them took it upon themselves to shepherd us on our journey into country life, making sure that we learned from our mistakes, and gently steering us away from making any so damaging that real catastrophe might ensue.

And thus did we learn about septic fields, well-drilling, drainage, crop planting and harvesting, feed management, livestock-rearing, hay baling, and enough medical and veterinary lore to successfully navigate most farm emergencies: Mr. She amputates half his index finger in a tractor/fence maintenance accident?  Apply pressure, wrap firmly, elevate.  Get him in the car while he’s still upright in case he passes out, so you don’t have to pick him up and drag him up the hill.  Get a plastic bag with ice, wrap what remains of severed digit in paper towel and put in bag.  Move tractor (which is still running and facing downhill) into safe place and turn it off.  Only then, proceed to the hospital. Lambing emergency in the barn?  Get a bucket of soapy water, a hay bale, a bottle of Crisco oil, and (worst case) a bag of sugar, and get on with it. You’ll have a successful outcome more often than not, even though the bruises on your hands may take weeks to heal.  (AFAIK, there’s no treatment or manicure on earth that will hasten the process or cover up the damage.  Deal with it.)

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There surely must be a horticultural corollary to the well-known maxim, generally attributed to Winston Churchill, that “a woman’s skirt should be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting.”   And it has to do with “ground covers,” those low-growing, fast-spreading plants that (one hopes) form an attractive carpet, especially in […]

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Gardening in south Texas is just weird. We moved here from Colorado nearly six years ago, and I’m still trying to get the hang of it. My gardening knowledge and experience all developed in an area with 3-4 seasons, one of which was really cold, and hardly any water. I can rig up a drip […]

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My parents have gardened for many decades. While not really “granola,” they have generally moved from synthetic fertilizers to compost and manure. A perennial favorite fertilizer is composted steer manure. All three words matter: manure, from steers, that has been composted. Straight steer manure, like certain other domesticated animals’ waste, is not recommended, in part […]

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Always a Beginner in the Garden

 

Image result for bristlecone pine methuselah Bristlecone pines, the world’s oldest trees

As someone who has spent thousands of hours growing, observing, and researching plants, I feel entitled to say a few words about them.

Other than G-d, nothing is as ever-present as plants. Wherever you go, you see them. Even swimming in the ocean, seaweed is there. What most people don’t know is that the vast majority of the atmosphere’s oxygen comes from ocean phytoplankton, not terrestrial plants or rain forests.

Of Peonies and Mongolian Beef

 

When my wife and I were first dating, she asked me, “What are you passionate about?” Since I didn’t know Jesus at the time, and I was smart enough not to say football, I answered as all men should if we are truthful about it.

“Food,” I said.

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“Where there’s life, there’s hope, and need of vittles.”–JRR Tolkien The pathway to some of my favorite vittles became clearer today with the arrival of the first two seed catalogs of the year. The temperature is in the single digits (supposed to go down to 2°F tonight), and the wind’s blowing like a Force-8 gale. […]

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The Language of Flowers: Status-Signaling, Virtue-Signaling, Etc

 

Tulip by Quartl, Wikimedia Commons, Cropped

Anyone imagining that just any sort of flowers can be presented in the front of a house without status jeopardy would be wrong. Upper-middle-class flowers are rhododendrons, tiger lilies, amaryllis, columbine, clematis, and roses, except for bright-red ones. One way to learn which flowers are vulgar is to notice the varieties favored on Sunday-morning TV religious programs like Rex Humbard’s or Robert Schuller’s. There you will see primarily geraniums (red are lower than pink), poinsettias, and chrysanthemums, and you will know instantly, without even attending to the quality of the discourse, that you are looking at a high-prole setup. Other prole flowers include anything too vividly red, like red tulips. Declassed also are phlox, zinnias, salvia, gladioli, begonias, dahlias, fuchsias, and petunias. Members of the middle class will sometimes hope to mitigate the vulgarity of bright-red flowers by planting them in a rotting wheelbarrow or rowboat displayed on the front lawn, but seldom with success.

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When I was a middle-school kid, I loved botany. I studied those diagrams in my A Beka Science book for hours. I dug up my parents’ side yard with the intention of planting a garden. I made sketches of girls gardening and collected every new seed I could find in a little, blue, glass angel […]

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When will your garden grow? It’s that time of year when some gardeners explore which seeds they will plant inside in winter, under a grow light. They tend, water, hope, pray, and wait for the final frost in spring to get things rolling outside. Others buy plantlings, in Spring, after last frost, then start their tending. Some simply wait […]

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Today marks the first day of summer, and (at least at my house in League City, TX) the first day of fig season. I went out at lunch, and harvested the first round of ripe figs (pictured above). For the next four weeks, I should be harvesting figs as they ripen. These are Celeste figs. […]

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As someone who loves to garden and be outdoors, moving to Florida from a small town west of Boston, I dreamt of longer growing seasons, lush gardens, short winters. I didn’t anticipate all sand for soil, intense, plant wilting heat, and so many…..weird BUGS! One day, while planting my new bee balm, salvia, assorted mint, […]

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  This summer was a tough one for me, with days of good health (I played tennis! And won!) and terrible (I lay down on the floor while trying to make breakfast because I was too weak to stand! My parents took my kids for two weeks so I could lie in bed and try to […]

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English Cottage Garden