Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Preparing for spring

Now is the time to be planting spring bulbs, so we can look forward to those bright harbingers of warmer weather. I have a unique bulb planting style. I like to "naturalise" by planting clumps of daffodils along edges and corners. I have very little patience for this, so I've developed a rather abrupt planting style. Those of you who know me in person will probably not be suprised by the word "abrupt".
I choose a grey, rainy day in November, when the ground is saturated and sloppy. I don my waxed, oil skin coat, and my knee high green shitkickers. And I go get the crowbar. Yes, the crowbar. No fussy, measured bulb dibber for me. Then I stalk around the yard jamming the crowbar into the earth like a stake into a vampire. Once it is in good and deep, I rotate it in a circle widening the hole until it is big enough to stuff a bulb down. When the bulb has been stuffed, I close the hole with my heel and move on.
I am a little more studied about planting in the landscape beds. Above is an old photo of some tulips. My favorites are the orangish "Daybreak" tulips. They first blossom orange, then fade to yellow. Home Depot carried them this year. Otherwise they can be a little hard to find. In the bes, I dig a sizeable hole, and throw a bunch of bulbs in. Bulbs really aren't fussy. You can set them in neatly, but even if you put them in upside down, they will sort things out.

This year I added clumps of daffodils to a new border along the back of the garden you have not yet seen. I put in a few splotches of color in the front beds with hyacinths surrounded by crocuses. And above are some paperwhites I was given last Christmas. As you can see, they've rooted well and are thinking about putting up some leaves.

I also planted garlic. I don't know why. I rarely use garlic. I will NEVER use a dozen garlic bulbs. But I planted them anyway, and they have come up nicely.

There are still a few things outside to be tended to. The catnip is almost dry enough to crumble off and be sewn into fabric scrap bags for kitty toys.

Here are the sunflower heads we harvested. I allowed them to dry for several weeks, making sure to keep them covered with bird netting, then removed the seeds for roasting. In doing so, I ruined all my fingernails.
To roast sunflower seeds, boil them in salt water for an hour, then season them and roast them in a moderate oven (350*). You can find several sets of instruction on the internet as to the correct salt to water ratio. I made several flavors, using a light coating of olive oil to stick the seasoning. I used taco seasoning, ranch dressing mix, onion soup mix, and a plain batch with just some salt. The instructions I found on the internet all said to roast for half an hour, but I ended up doing each batch for an hour and a half before Tim was satisfied with the crunchiness.
I don't care for them. If the hulls were removed, maybe, but it was hard enough to get the flower bits off them, much less the hulls. Next roasting project is pumpkin seeds. Those are a bit easier as they don't require boiling.

And I am still enjoying lettuce. This is what is growing under my row cover despite two significant snow falls and a whole week of frosty mornings.


  1. I for one appreciate abrupt !

    Except for the 1/2 acre of potatos and garlic (which we planted via a two row potato transplanter) we planted the rest of the garden when I was growing up with our 12 row (that's 36 feet wide) corn planter, our 40 row bean planter or our 26 foot wide grain drill/grass box combination. When it came time to till in the fall it took exactly two passes (and five minutes) with our 48 foot cultivator ! It wasn't very sporting, but it sure got done in a hurry and the rows were *always* straight ! At this point, I'd have to get back into cash crops in order to put my garden in ! :)

  2. I just love reading about your garden.
    I didn't quite get everything finished in my yard but it'll do. The rest can wait until spring I suppose! I had two beds that I really didn't like how they looked and I planned to dig them up and replant the bulbs but didn't get around to it. And now we're expecting a heavy snowfall warning. Boo.