At Home on Hill Haven

Musings, ramblings, and pontifications on motherhood, unschooling, farming, sustainability, spirit, and life in general...

Location: northwest Georgia, United States

I'm a living-working-breathing mom, writing, mothering, teaching, and soul-searching from our home in northwest Georgia. We are whole-life unschoolers, which basically means our kids actually have a say in what happens to them (it actually means infinitely more than that, but's it's a starting point for discussion). We are also hardcore environmentalists, anti-industrialists, trying to escape from our dependence on petroleum, manufactured products and other non-sustainable practices. We homebirth, homeschool, and homestead, and try to make sense of it all, in a constant whirlwind of chaos.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

19 Days Until Spring

My order of bareroot plants and bulbs arrived today from Burgess. (I'm trying them out this year because their stuff is cheaper than all the other seed catalogs in my 8-inch-deep stack; it remains to be seen whether their quality will suffice.) I now have five sweet Darrow blackberry, two mock orange, fifteen blue potato, eight hosta, and two Pixwell (get it?) gooseberry plants to dig holes for, as well as 120 gladiolus bulbs that will have to go somewhere, probably on the family farm since they are to be part of my organic cut flower crop this summer. In addition to all these goodies, I already received my seed packets from the same order, and really I'm a bit late getting them started. Brad rounded up some plug trays for me today and now the bulk of the work stares me down: fill tray with soil, distribute a bajillion seeds, repeat, followed by keeping all of them wet and warm and happy until they get big enough to set out. I am 22 weeks pregnant today and things are about to get really busy around here.

Growing up I was always a "fall person," and still am-- see my previous entry in which I had cut my hair in sheer girlish giddiness over the glory of autumn (which was, by the way, a mistake-- the haircut, not the giddiness). However, with age I've become more susceptible to the frozen moods of winter and as such have developed a greater appreciation for the spring thaw. Planning the garden, poring over seed catalogs, imagining this here and that there, dreaming of getting to know new plant companions, gets me through dark days and freezing nights like nothing else can. So I guess now I'm a "spring person," too.

I still haven't placed my orders with Johnny's, Burpee, Richter's, or Parks, not to mention possibilities from several other suppliers who specialize in different flora, such as fruit-bearing items or landscape trees. We really can't go spending hundreds on so many plant varieties that we'll never get them all in the ground (although the credit card company will gladly oblige). But how can I choose one over another? The basic vegetable garden is nearly covered at this point: a mixture of heirloom tomatoes, a separate packet of brandywines, ornamental gourds, luffas, yellow crookneck squash and zucchini, Black Beauty eggplant, Lumina and Howden and jack-be-little pumpkins, butternut squash. From Johnny's I'll also get tomatillos, cucumbers, cayenne peppers, Antohi Romanian peppers, and possibly Golden Rave and San Marzano tomatoes. A few more peppers varieties (serrano, anaheim, poblano, hot wax banana), some roma tomatoes, and perhaps some spinach from Burpee should round out the veggies nicely. There are also some other varieties of fall/winter squash I want to try, but I may need to curb my appetite before I buy so many seeds that I have to use the neighbor's yard to plant them all. (Although we have five acres here, it is almost entirely wooded.) Then there's the herb garden, flower beds, and my cut flower enterprise (which will serve also to supply much, if not all, of the flower bed requirements, I hope). That last project calls for seeds by the thousands, zinnias and rudbeckia and cilantro and four types of basil. For the herb garden, I'm starting essentially from scratch, having only had time last season to start bergamot, catnip, and lemon balm. That calls for nettles, chamomile, yarrow, and echinacea at a minimum. There's also a ditch bank of sorts that I think lavender would really take to, but it's so easy to kill that I'm not sure how much to invest in the attempt. From Park's I want to get a mushroom kit or two, beautyberry, and a couple of New Dawn climbing roses, but I'm not sure if I should wait on those until I'm really certain about the amount of sunlight in different areas of the yard. Besides, with my hands too full I could end up killing my investment, and no one wants to be a plant murderer.

I suppose if I were a logical type I could set a budget, rank plants according to some scheme based on returns or perceived value, and make my final choices. But logical I am not, and so I have vacillated, and still do, not certain who to toss from the shopping basket, or on what grounds to even make such a decision. But I need this one for this, and I need that one for that. How can I decide? How can I value the contribution of one over another? How can joy and pleasure be ranked? Each plant offers such an individual combination of benefits. At this rate summer could end before I made up my mind. But that is the beauty of the season: it will not wait for me. And so, indecisive as I am, I am forced to make the call and commit. Only nineteen days until spring!

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