The flower baby stork arrived!

Instead of a rambling…ahem…memoir, this is a quick, excited “garden gush”!

My wee girl was checking up on her seed babies last night and found many had germinated all ready (they are quite tiny and hard to see in photos, but about 80% are up)!  A little happy dance ensued…

Tenny, tiny perennial dianthus the stork delivered last night

Teeny, tiny perennial dianthus the stork delivered last night.

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The first of my little girl’s pink and white petunias have poked up from their nest! Only 4 days since they were seeded in the incubation station.

Mama’s sweet basil and opal basil germinated in 3 days on the heat mats. My happy dance was not nearly as cute…

” Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” ~ Robert Lewis Stevenson 

Little hands, little seeds, very little patience

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I love these little hands.  They never cease to amaze me.  They create a never ending flurry of love notes and drawings as gifts for anyone who ventures by.  They are constantly seeking out snuggles and touches.  They pray. They draw, paint and crochet long chains of whatever she imagines her creations should be that day (hairbands, necklaces, handcuffs…). They love to be sticky making the perfect cookie and can cut veggies and fruit for that perfect snack!  And, just like every little person I have ever known, these little hands can pick and pester. They can swipe clothes and smuggle away other treasured items from her big sister’s room.  They can also spill and, oh boy, can they make messes!  As time has passed these little hands have grown and changed as they have acquired new skills – from trying to pick up little pieces of toast and getting that spoon into her mouth to pulling the puppy’s hair and manipulating board games pieces.

imageBut because these sweet little hands belong to a little person, they are very impatient!  That could also be a function of being my child as well…I am not known for being patient. Last February, we bought a number of annual flower seeds for our first attempt at growing flowers from scratch indoors.  We have always had great luck with direct seeding sunflower seeds and poppies once the soil warmed up, but indoor annual growing proved to be a lot of work with a relatively poor outcome.  Or so I thought. Only about 10% of our seeds ever germinated, despite my little’s ones best efforts to urge them on.  She used my heat mats, moisture domes and a little grow light she picked out for her very own room.  She spritzed them and spoke to them lovingly.  She bounced around waiting and waiting for the little seeds she had meticulously nestled into her starter soil to poke up.  When a few of them finally did, she let me transplant them into cells (her little hands were not up to this delicate task yet…).

As the days warmed up, she hauled her two trays of seedlings in and out every morning and evening to harden off.  Finally, in early June, she very carefully placed her flower babies into the shiniest, prettiest pots she could find.  She also filled my deck boxes and planters.  When she wasn’t looking, I added a few stuffers, but I got caught and was not allowed to add anymore flowers.  These little plimageants looked pretty sad.  Being a little particular myself, I really had to bite my tongue and keep my own hands still so as not to “aid” in her accomplishments.

However, once outside, my darling girl would not give up.  She continued to water and deadhead.  She even sang and danced for her flower babies (it was really stinking cute!).  She named quite a few of them. She proudly pointed out each and every flower she started from seed to everyone who visited. In no time, the pots, planters and deck boxes were the most beautiful we’d ever had!  I guess it was me who also needed some patience.

As the cool fall weather came, she started to collect the seed heads and store her little seeds in a binder I was given as a gift from Lee Valley.  I stored it away in the cabinet for the winter and had pretty much forgotten about them until other day.  Her big sister was off at one of her many sporting events and we were looking for something to do that did not involve being plugged in.  Her little mind very quickly went to her seeds…

imageAlthough it is really quite early to be starting seeds, I didn’t think it would hurt to start a few trays of slower growing flowers, herbs and leeks (flowers included petunias, coleus, black eyed susan vines and coneflowers.) We found some old starter soil and earthworm castings and went to work.  We had been saving tomato, peach, strawberry and lettuce containers to try as seedling trays to save money this year, so out they came as well. They seemed to work well because they had drainage holes in them already and the clear covers act like mini greenhouses to hold in moisture, saran wrap enveloping the other nests.  We filled each tray with about 2 inches of soil, her little hands watering and stirring until moist (and very messy). Each little seed was gently tucked in under a fine layer of earthworm castings.  She found it quite funny we were playing with worm poop! The heat mats and an old coffee table have been transformed into an incubation station in the living room in front of a sunny window.  As a final touch, those sweet little hands wrote out tags for her seed babies, last year’s flower’s babies.

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And as I am watching my baby’s little hands grow and change far too quickly, she will try to wait patiently while watching her little seed babies lay down roots and grow.

“In every gardener, there is a child who still believes in the seed fairy.” – Robert Brault

Roots Grow Deep

IMG_1439In Nova Scotia, roots grow deep in culture, families and gardens.  Growing up around the country, I always knew where I came from and how important it was to know my roots, thanks to my parents and extended family.  It didn’t matter which province we lived in, home was always here. “What’s your Fathers name?” is a phrase that is as common to identification as Black Eyed Susan’s  are to the side of the maritime roads. Every summer was spent from beginning to end with grandparents, aunts, uncles and hoards of cousins, nuturing our relationships and honing our berry picking skills. Most days were spent in bathing suits, running around in the fields, using outhouses, playing cards, baking and creating. There were bonfires, sing alongs, epic games of Lee Hockers in the dark and of course music, dancing and food.

Cape Breton Wildfowers, Grandma’s lupines, Aunt Pat’s tiger lilies, and Grandma D’s dahlias were the stIMG_1386art of my fascination with flowers. They were centrepieces for every table and window sill. And what an honour it was to have your garden’s splendours displayed on the altar in mass on Sunday morning!

Papa’s rhubarb, blueberry patch and crabapple trees were treated as precious as gold, we all drooled waiting in anticipation for his applesauce, jellies, stewed rhubarb and blueberry pies.  I was taught by a great many of relatives that to let a wild berry go unpicked was next door to a mortal sin.  Bugs, bogs and thorns were very weak excuses indeed. My gardens are now home to many “roots” transplanted from many generations of my family.  I get to remember precious moments shared with now passed loved ones every time I sit in my garden.

Before any seed can grow, it needs a solid foundation.  A fertile, well planned plot with lots of sun, good drainage, special friends (bugs) to pollinate it and defences to ward off those pesky invaders who may try to take advantage of good intentions.  This time of year, January, is when I start to dream and plan.  Of course I have helpers!  My littlest daughter is my biggest ally.  We love to sit together and list out what we liked about last year, what new ideas we may have for this year and look through pictures that lift up our spirits while it is still too cold outside to play in the dirt. I like to think that even something as simple as planning our veggie rows or speculating on how tall our sunflowers may grow this summer is laying down some firm roots in our own little family.  Her vivid imagination never ceases to amaze me and I cherish listening to her thoughts, even if it means we will end up with a “purple veggies only” plot this year!

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Dreaming of what is to come!

It isn’t quite time to start sowing seeds, but it is never too early to dream, share and get prepared!

My to do list for this week:

– Pull out old garden plans and pictures to make sure we don’t plant the same thing in the same place as last year.  I can’t grow everything in our zone 5/6 garden, or without an infinite amount of space and time, so planning what we really want to plant now saves a lot of impulse buying when the seed catalogues and greenhouse adventures begin. I also “weed out” anything we tried last year that was not a hit so as not to make the same mistakes again.  I was the only one who liked turnip…60 pounds may have a bit excessive in hindsight!

– Draw out any new planned development and start thinking about supplies, I really want to finish my raised bed border around the main part of the veggie garden and attempt a “squash arch”. And what the heck am I going to do with the garden beside the shed??

– Make a seed starting calendar, so I know when to get started.  I have jumped the gun far too many times and have had 4 foot tomatoes in the porch in April….websites for local seed companies, “like-climate” blogs and books by gardeners from our local area are fantastic resources.

– Dust off my favorite books and magazines to scour through again and again, always finding something new and exciting to try this year…I am thinking maybe peanuts?

– Connect with friends who are looking to share ideas, seeds, separated plants and a cup of tea (or glass of wine).  It is far more fun to plan with friends – even a yoga class can be a place of veggie inspiration.  Bok choy is a great veggie to meditate on!

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Kind hearts are the gardens, Kind thoughts are the roots, Kind words are the flowers, Kind deeds are the fruits.  Take care of your garden, And keep out the weeds, Fill it with sunshine, Kind words and Kind deeds.” – Longfellow

Seeds, Weeds and Dreams

IMG_0841The first post in a (hopefully) series of gardening ramblings…ahem…memoirs…seems a lot like trying to pick out seeds for the first time of the season.  I haven’t a clue what the garden will turn out like this year, no idea what will grow well and what will fail, which varieties will thrive in our wacky weather or if an early July hurricane will leave me crying in my bean patch having to decide whether to start over or pack it all in.  Just as when opening up my seed catalogues for the first time in the dregs of January, the first question is – Where in Heaven’s name do I start?

Me, I guess.  I am a thirty something, working mother of 2 very busy girls who fill my heart to bursting. I love to watch them grow and develop as I try my best to feed and nurture them, weeding through what is needed for them to blossom into kind, caring, spiritually rooted young ladies who respect themselves, others and our environment. I have an extremely understanding hubby who lets us turn the house into an indoor incubation station, a legal “grow-up” with plant lighting the neighbours can see 5 doors down at night, a porch plant nursery and he pretends that he cares as much about our “veggie babies” as we do.  Plus he willingly helps out with the heavy lifting and looks really good while he does it!  And of course, I have the cutest fur-baby ever who welcomes one and all for a visit and a snuggle and guards the garden from the sinister rabbits and deer.  I am pretty blessed.

I have no formal training in horticulture, am too distractible to really be bothered to learn the “proper” way of doing things and thoroughly enjoy just spending time experimenting in growing – vegetables, flowers, shrubs, relationships with anyone who will spend some time with me in the dirt or enjoying what comes of out of it…

I don’t suppose to have any answers or wisdom, just passion to share with those who are willing to spend some time with my thoughts – who knows maybe someone else will become a bit more inspired in the end.

Ramblings…ahem…memoirs will simply chronicle my sometimes successful, sometimes not-so-successful attempts at planting roots of all sorts in the beautiful place I call home, Nova Scotia.