Mud. Lots of it. Squelchy and squishy. Officially, we’re told it’s been the wettest winter. The grey rain clouds can go away now. We are no longer lulled by the nightly patter of rain on the roof. In our area, the soil ‘floats’ atop the hardpan pipe-clay. Unsealed local roads and private driveways currently make driving interesting as we dodge the potholes. Once things dry out in the warmer months, we’ll need to re-metal our driveway.
I can only stand and admire nature’s cheerful face of drifts of daffodils. No outdoor gardening is happening at present. This weekend, I want to get some time to sow some seeds to germinate them under cover. And yes, the early potatoes seem to still be growing. Anyway, there’s another reason for no gardening and no blogging. For the last few weeks, I’ve been busy cleaning spare bedrooms, laundering baby clothes, fetching grandkids from daycare and preparing meals. I feel stuffed just looking at this list and I go out to work during the week. The efforts we make to support our families.
Tomorrow is the due date for a very important little person. Grandchild Number 8. The lucky number and it’s the 8th month of 2008. We’ve got a full house. Son and D-in-law and their two sons are staying with us before they shift into their next house. D-in-law’s Mum flew in from Australia and is also staying with us. Tonight, the newborn baby clothes are sorted and the basinet is made up and aired. Mummy’s finally stopped working and is now on maternity leave. She’s packed her bag at last. Daddy’s reading a story to three-year old son. Three grandparents are under the same roof and on hand to baby-sit the older boys. Wow! Each time, the imminent birth of a grandchild is such a special time. The event draws people together. A little of each of us is embodied in the promise of this precious new life bringing cheer like the daffodils. Now, we wait for nature to take its course.
Eldest son and I phone-tagged tonight as we pored through an online seed catalogue. We decided to order online. This season, we’re sharing packets of seeds and adopting a more economical approach to growing more of our food. He has five kids and had just returned from the supermarket. The price of fresh produce there has really spurred him to get a vegie garden going – now! Yesterday! He’s got fruit trees planted on his new place. He and his wife had a salad picking garden at their previous home. Now, the inflation of their growing family’s appetites is matching economic inflation.
We settled for a seasonal selection for early spring plantings September-October. Our climate is warm enough – but then I said that once before about early potatoes and then there was a light frost. We’ll use the polyhouse to get seedlings started and potted up later on before transplanting later into our gardens. No 2 son will get involved later on but at present, he’s absorbed with the prospect of becoming a Daddy for the third time.
So what did we order? Eldest son chose Watermelon Moon and Stars and Sweet Corn Honey and Pearl for his kids. I like his thinking about scatter sowing field poppies and a beneficial insect seed blend in his new orchard. I’d have the lot but reason has to prevail. Such wonderful stories about heritage seeds. I’m inspired by names given to some of the seeds we ordered, like: Baxters Early Bush Cherry Tomato; Pea Wando Select; Zucchini Costasta Romanesco; Bean Borlotto Fire Tongue; Beetroot Crosbys Egyptian Flat; Black Cherry Tomato; Squash Orange Dawn. I’m intrigued by Chilli Pasilla Bajio as described in the catalogue, quote:
In Spanish, Pasilla means “little raisin”, an allusion to the deep brown dried pods and raisin like aroma of this flavourful Chilli. The long thin walled glossy dark green fruit at the immature stage ripen to dark chocolate brown with high yields and uniform high quality. When used fresh Pasilla are called chilaca and add a rich flavour to enchilada and chilli sauces.
I’m already thinking what recipes I might use to enjoy the ‘raisin like aroma”. And I was delighted to get hold of heirloom pumpkin seeds. My father used to grow Triamble pumpkin and it’s a good keeper and has a great taste. I can see him now using a small axe to chop through the hard skin.
We’ve battened down for the second major wintery storm of the week and I’ve been curled up in front of the wood-fire reading the jobs to do in August in my latest gardening magazine. I’ve learned that wood ash is beneficial for rhubarb in that it acts somewhat like lime. May be this is why winter happens – so we must wait, rest, reflect on our gardening adventures, and dare to dream how the next growing season might be.
Years ago, an elderly neighbour showed me how he transplanted seedlings into the garden in paper pots that he’d made. There was, he claimed, less shock to the root system. The young plant is established in the paper pot with seedling mix before being transplanted into the garden. I leave a cuff to act as a mini-barrier from the wind.
The same neighbour also spread seeds onto dampened paper strips. He covered the seeds with another strip of dampened paper. He then laid the seeded paper on damp seedling mix.