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Showing posts from February, 2008

Winter a Great Time for Learning

As I type this, the snow is beginning to fly again. While I love winter, it can be a little tough. The gray weather and lack of sunshine is what really gets to me. Cross-country skiing, sledding, and walks in the woods all help, but I still start to get spring fever. I want to be outside planting, puttering, and feeling the sun on my skin. I want to see flowers in bud and bloom, and I want to start snipping fresh herbs for my salad. This year I'm trying a new cure - classes! As though they were reading my mind, local organizations are holding some great classes covering everything from native plants to pruning to rain barrels. I've signed up for a three-week course on organic gardening at Hidden Lake Gardens , and I've got my eye on a native plant series through the Stewardship Network , too. Other good courses are at Mattheai Botanical Gardens in everything from photography to Michigan's orchid population. A really great variety of topics to satisfy learners fro

Winter Thoughts

Winter is easily my favorite season. A friend asked me recently as we set out on a cross-country ski adventure why that is the case. Was it because I'm originally from Wisconsin? I theorized that it is perhaps because my birthday is in Winter. (It seems logical that any season in which one receives presents could well be a favorite.) I like the starkness of Winter, I confess. I like the cold air that freezes my throat and lungs a bit when I breathe it in. I like the contrasting colors of a gentle snowfall that sketches the texture of tree branches and bark so that I feel as though I see them all for the first time. I like the drifts that look like frozen time that the wind deposited. I like the snap of stars on a cold, cold night, and the squeak it makes when I walk. There is nothing so beautiful to me as a moonlit night of still, bitter cold on that white, blue, and black landscape. It thrills me with a sense of magic and life like no other moment. Winter feels in its frozen gr

Great Sight for Photos of Prairies

A few years back I discovered Lyndon Anderson's Prairie Journal, while looking for pictures of native plants for a demonstration garden I was planning. The site is full of photos of everything from native grasses like Big Bluestem and Indian Grass to flowers and plants like Purple Aster and Milkweed. Mr. Anderson captures scenes in the landscape and sky that make his home in North Dakota unique and special. It remains a pleasure to return again and again to see how the prairie blooms and changes.


Our Little Rain Barrel

Susan Harris at Sustainable Gardening had a great bundle of information about rain barrels, which had me thinking about ours. A couple years ago we made our own rain barrel. It's nothing fancy, to say the least, but it does the trick. We shied away from the cost of a new, fancy-dancey one (although they are a great way to go if you can), and made one out of an old cider vinegar barrel. ( Eden Foods is just down the road from us.) Our drain spout dumps right into it, and the top is simply open. I just dunk the watering can in, fill it, and water away. We took care of the mosquito concern by getting a couple goldfish. They spend the summer swimming around, eating mosquitoes and whatever else lands on the water. Winter is spent in a fish bowl in our kitchen. Even after a long drought this past summer, the water level remained fairly high. And it was a welcome source for the garden. I mulch pretty heavily, and we try to water late in the day. We're considering adding another t

Salad in a Pot

Our garden is rather small. We have a fair amount of yard, most of which we don't mow, but our garden is comparatively tiny for folks living out in the country. I pack it, of course, with more vegetables, flowers, and herbs than perhaps I should. I like the bountiful feeling of green paired with all those blooms leaping everywhere, along with the fantastic number of things I get to harvest. The garden feels so incredibly alive to me (bees, butterflies, birds, cats, and chickens at the gate!) that I don't mind the balancing act to get that one last ripe tomato. Despite this, our garden still feels somewhat small to me, and in the spring I find it hard to resist planting MORE! Our neighbors over at Frog Holler Organic Farm sell seedlings in the spring, and I simply can't resist. I always pick up too many to fit in the beds. This past summer was no different. So, I came up with a new idea for my garden. Pots! I filled pots with a mix of composted horse manure and compost