Thursday, January 15, 2009

I got Nuthin'

For this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I mean. Last year I had quite a few things--sarcococca ruscifolia, a hellebore, and a hardy cyclamen, but this year even the flowering houseplants are dormant. (Or they are dead from neglect. I'm not good with plants that I can't water with a garden hose.) So all I can offer is my Christmas wreath, festooned with dried hydrangea and sedum flowers (the brown stuff that doesn't look like pine cones):

and this cabbage 'Pyramid' that refused to form a proper head, and looks kind of like a flower.

However, I do have something really fine--salad greens, and I didn't even have to plant them. They just self-seeded in a bed in my greenhouse. Turns out that miner's lettuce (claytonia) is pretty frost-tolerant.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

So I got this mini-bottle of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur in my Christmas stocking and the tag on the bottle suggested mixing it with champagne. It just happens that there was a bottle of very inexpensive sparkling wine in my pantry and I was in the mood for something spritzy tonight.

Oh. My. God. Talk about your elixer of the gods, this is it. I'm a bit of a nut for elderflower anything. When I can find it there's usually a bottle of elderflower syrup in the frig, ready to mix with sparkling water, on those rare hot summer days and on those dark drizzly days when you think summer, hot or otherwise, will never come again.

When I googled for an image of the bottle, itself a cool object, I discovered that one of the Garden Ranters had discovered St. Germain. I'm tempted to start a garden club just so I can serve elderflower cocktails at the first meeting.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Karen over at Greenwalks has organized a meetup for Seattle-area garden bloggers. It's Saturday February 7, at the Center for Urban Horticulture, and I bet lurkers would be welcome, too. Thanks, Karen, for making this happen.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

January Harvest

Sure there's a freezer full of summer vegetables, and there are still plenty of potatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, garlic, and shallots stored in the pantry and the garage. But those are for the nights when I come home long after dark, or those weekends when it's too miserable to want to do anything outside. On a raw but otherwise decent Sunday in early January, it's fun to push aside the mulch* and dig up leeks, parsnips, yellow carrots, and a beautiful red cabbage.

*This year I wanted to see which crops would winter over, given enough protection. I buried a couple of beds ~two feet deep in big-leaf maple leaves, kept in place with wire-mesh panels forming hoops over the beds. So far I've successfully protected all of my root vegetables from temperatures in the low teens. The kale, brussel sprouts, and cabbages seem to be doing okay without any protection.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Essentials Schmessentials

Hat tip to Pandagon for this one. According to the Pew Research Center the list of things Americans (meaning people living in the USA) consider essential is growing. Their list in order of necessity, and my $.02:
  • Car. Unfortunately yes. I have nothing against bicycles, but I live 8 miles from town, 10 miles from the transit hub. Via a busy 2-lane road with little to no shoulder. And it rains here. Hard. A lot.
  • Clothes Washer. Yes. It's a quality of life thing.Nearly every item of clothing I own is washable, including most things that say "dry clean only". And again, it's about10 miles to the nearest coin laundry.
  • Clothes Dryer. I have one and use it but I could get along without it. I already dry quite a bit of my clothing on racks.
  • Home Air Conditioning. Don't have it, don't miss it. That says more about the Tiger Mountain microclimate than it does about my stoicism in the face of a heatwave.
  • Microwave. Have one but I consider it a convenience more than an essential.
  • TV set. Does it count if there's no antenna so it can only be used for watching movies? My next computer monitor will be both larger and more clear, so the TV set can get the boot.
  • Car Air Conditioning. I'm glad I have it, but I grew up with the "Model 460 A/C" (all four windows rolled down and 60 mph) and it wasn't so bad. See local microclimate above.
  • Home Computer. Oh yes. It lets me work from home, thus saving me a lot of commute time and driving in general.
  • Cell Phone. My employer says yes, so I guess it's a necessity. Most of the people who work for or with me are a couple of time zones away, so the phone gets used a lot. Also I wouldn't know what's going on in younger daughter's life if she couldn't text me.
  • Dishwasher. I love it but I could live without it.
  • Cable or Satellite TV. Don't have it, don't want it.
  • High Speed Internet. See home computer, above.
  • Flat Screen TV. Don't have it don't want it. Love my flat screen computer monitor, though.
  • iPod. Seriously? Okay, I admit it, I deeply covet YD's iPod Touch, which came free with her laptop. But not enough to go out and buy one of my own. I do have an inexpensive MP3 player with FM radio, and it's the radio part that I consider essential. During last year's lengthy power outage it was our only source of information about road conditions, school closings, etc.
Because I consider so few things on that list essential, I believe I'm entitled to add a few essentials of my own:
  • Land of my own (without restrictive covenants). Land that I can use for planting a garden, raising chickens, hanging clothes out to dry, and just providing an escape from the unnatural world.
  • A wood-burning stove. Not just for power outages, either. There's just no heat like the heat that comes from a wood fire.
  • Endless running water. When the power goes out so does our well. It's nice to be able to fetch buckets from the creek to flush the toilet, and wash ourselves.
  • A cat or two. I've had a cat or two or more for all but a few years in my life, and those were not the best years.
How about you? What's essential to your everyday life?