Saturday, April 13, 2013

It's spring!

I'm a gardener.  To someone who doesn't garden, that's just a statement, like saying I like cheese.  But to a gardener, it's like a window into your personality, a statement about your very being.  Gardening is a part of who I am.

I'm not much of a flower gardener.  I try, I really do, but I can't connect to flowers.  They're too flighty, too delicate.  Flower gardening makes me feel like I'm working with a room full of drama queens. 

My true love lies with food-bearing plants.  Vegetables vines, berry bushes, fruiting trees.  There's something substantial about edible plants that really makes me love them.  You have to care for them perhaps even more than flowers, but they're not vain.  It doesn't matter if they're a little brown around the edges, or if they have holes all through their leaves.  As long as they're strong and healthy and happy, they'll give you something wonderful in return. 

Tomatoes and green beans are my favorites.  Even though I never used to like tomatoes, and have only just begun to start eating them regularly, I love them as a plant.  They're so hardy.  You could abuse a tomato plant, bring it near death, and if it had the right soil and plenty of sunshine, it would still spread half way across your yard and produce a bumper crop.  They're a plant that's almost impossible to kill unless you actually try to.  Beans are similar.  They're very hardy, totally unneedy plants.  One year, deer ate every single leaf from my bean vines TWICE and they came back, strong and healthy, each time and gave me an awesome supply of beans. 

So why am I writing about gardening on my low carb/paleo blog?  Well, because I think gardening totally fits into that lifestyle.  It's not just about eating better foods.  It's about reconnecting to your food, understanding the circle of life, and providing yourself with the highest quality foods you can.  Trust me, being a vegetable gardener can be a life changing experience if you let it be.  Caring for a tiny helpless seedling, watching it become a towering plant that you have to prune weekly just to keep it from attacking your yard, being there to see it take its own life forces away from itself and direct it into the next generation, and then harvesting the fruits of its labors, and finally having to pull the withered remains of this mighty life from the earth.  All in one season. 

But I'm rambling now.  The real reason I started writing this was because I have pictures!  I've been slowly working on my garden because spring is here, and vegetable season is almost here.  Because I grow almost exclusively heirloom varieties, and because they're nearly impossible to find locally, I start my plants from seeds in my basement.  Also, it's a lot cheaper to start my own seeds.

So far, I have cauliflower, red and green cabbage, broccoli, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce planted.  I also have some heirloom petunias growing.  I was really excited when I learned that heirloom petunias have a lovely scent which has been bred out of modern petunias. 

Here's my lonely winter garden, as seen from my upstairs window:

Here's my growing station in my basement.  My husband, who likes to think of himself as an amateur lightbulb expert, set it up for me.

 These are my onions, though I'll admit they didn't germinate very well.  I still haven't figured onion seeds out.  I'll probably have to buy some onion sets later on.

These are my brassica seedlings (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) planted in newspaper pots I made last fall.  I wanted something that would degrade if I planted them directly into the garden, and I think this is the real winner.  They're super cheap, for one thing, and newspaper breaks down easily.  I've tried peat pots in the past, and they never actually degrade.  I think they even restrict the plants' roots from fully expanding.

These are the cute little petunias I started.  They take forever to germinate, by the way.

These are one of the few hybrid plants I'll be growing this year.  It's a dwarf tomato called Red Robin.  They only grow to 12 inches tall, but despite that, they're very heavy producers.  I got two pounds of tomatoes off of two plants last year, and my mother-in-law brought hers inside and it continued to produce until Christmas!

I have other seeds planted, but they haven't come up yet.  This is a fun time of year, but I can't wait until I can get outside and really start digging in the dirt.

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