Saturday, March 22, 2008


and all that entails.  Yes, that red blur is a cardinal and yes, that white stuff is snow.  Pretty sure it's officially spring, but the signs are few and far between.

Here's a close up of one sure bet, the Hamamelis.  I honestly can't remember the variety, but this is its second spring and these blossoms started showing mid-February both years. 
I love the scent as well.  It's a lot like Fruit Loops, without any dusty cardboard.  It's not as fragrant as last year, which I'm chalking up to a frigid February.   

No, there really isn't any sign of spring in this picture.  It's just documenting the river birch we planted last fall and my hopes for it to bud, leaf out, and eventually screen most of the view into and out of the back yard.  

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Of beans and Irish snakes

These things have something to do with each other according to an old Chicago adage I can't quite remember. I know it has something to do with St. Patrick's Day and when to plant your beans. This is what most of my gardening knowledge sounds like, muddled directives involving plants I don't use.
I am truly thankful for the internet.
And so I think it's getting to be that time. This year is the first in a while I am going to start seeds and lay off the garden center binges. It's never really worked out that well in the past, but I'm going to try again anyway.
Even though many people much more experienced than myself don't recommend it, I'm planning on starting seeds in some old pop bottles in the enclosed back porch. No lights, no heating pads.
There's a lot of east light though, and the windows are very new and very sound. Somewhere in the anthology of old gardening chestnuts there's got to be a hint that this is ok, and if it isn't then I'm only out a few seeds. Right?
I plan on starting most seeds this Friday, it being Good and a day off, but I'm still missing some seeds that I ordered online back in early February. I don't think I'll be ordering from them again, but I might just buy replacements (if I can find them) at the garden center.
I waver between worries of too late and too early, but I think mid-March will be fine. I should just take a page from my Dad's gardening book and throw a few seeds/ bulbs in sheltered pots in March, then come back from Florida in late May and see what made it. Most do, even the tomatoes.
Speaking of tomatoes, I ordered some heirlooms from the esteemed JL Hudson, (see earlier post). They're going to have to go in pots with barbed wire around them (urban squirrels are serious tomato connoisseurs), but I'll try anything to have my share.

Another grand plan for this season is to really try to improve the soil quality. Back in November I went on another field trip to a soil workshop hosted by the Chicago Park District. It was presented by Mike Flynn from Green Quest, ("committed to sustainable cycles of transformation"), and he showed us some easy ways to compost/help the soil.
I'll post again later with all the details, but I'll end this with his email:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hiatus or Hiati?

Whichever is the plural form of a blog free seasonal affective disorder. Last I knew it was November and I hurriedly did this...

to some canna lilies and elephant ears.
Then a little bit of this happened...

and a lot of this...

I've got a few seeds outside stratifying, and the rest will be tended to indoors in a few weeks if everything goes as planned. Part of the plan includes a few seeds from J.L. Hudson, Seedsman whose site, really should be seen.
Manifestos aside, I'm looking forward to some prehistoric-like castor oil plant seeds. Even though I know they won't be, I'm expecting something very sci-fi or at least comically large.