First Seed Packet of 2011

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Behold–the first seed packet of 2011. All the potential of delicious, mouth-watering cherry tomatoes in tiny little seeds encased in paper.

Now, seeing as it snowed in Ottawa today I don’t think I’ll be planting these little beauties anytime soon.

But gardening season is right around the corner and this little packet is a reminder of the work ahead. Breaking ground, prepping soil, planting, tending & then reaping the rewards (hopefully!)

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Spring a Leek

The last crop from our garden was harvested, cleaned & cooked last week into a delicious late-harvest meal. Mum & Dad pulled out our crop of leeks, a hardy fall vegetable, and Mum made a lovely chicken dish in a flavorful leek-based sauce.

As you can see in the photo below our leeks featured a nice crisp white stem with tall, leafy green tops.

You may be saying to yourselves, “Leeks? They must be confused. Clearly these Coverts are not just novice gardeners but also completely delusional. Those green onions in the photo below look quite delicious.”

Sigh.

No, sadly our leeks just didn’t grow that big. The leeks in the market right now are fat, practically bulging, practically waving their size & healthiness in our faces. Our leeks tasted fine, as leeky as you like, but were just small. Tiny. Mini-leeks.

This is likely caused by a couple if different things: 1) our soil is thick with clay and I think this means the veg have a harder time pushing through the soil to come to their normal size. This has happened to us with other under-ground-growing types of veg (onions the most obvious example). 2) I think we were supposed to thin out the little leeklings when they were very wee. We didn’t do that, it seemed kind of inhumane to sacrifice every second plant. That and we might have forgotten.

Oh, and did I mention we have no idea what we’re doing? Yeah, that might have something to do with it too.

The Seed Catalogues Have Arrived!

Seed packets

Seed packets

A few months ago my aunt suggested that it was time to order free seed catalogues in order to prepare for the coming gardening season.

I scoffed and retorted that until I am a more seasoned gardener I won’t be growing much from seed. A few failed experiments last year were enough to (break my heart and*) reassure me that my gardening skill needs a helping hand in the form of pre-started plants.

However, I did take her advice for no other reason than ordering seed catalogues in winter has the same affect that the Sears Wish Book used to have in September: you flip through the pages slowly with pure wonder and joy imagining what great times lie ahead.

I also decided that the seed catalogues would be a great way to do research on different varieties of plants and to solidify what we can plant next year. This “planning” took the form of me cutting out pictures of all the things I’d like to consider growing (again, Sears Wish Book flashback). I roughly chopped out photos of crisp pickling cukes, luscious ripe strawberries adorned with tiny white flowers, handsome husked tomatillos and adorable orange cherry tomatoes while I flipped right by things like broccoli, cauliflower and page after page of squashes and gourds.

Now that I have all of these funny little cutouts I intend to paste them into a scrapbook or perhaps (if I get really organized) a to-scale plan of the garden so that I can see what this garden-to-be might look like. I admit this whole idea is a bit grade 3 arts-and-crafts but it’s giving me a visual representation of my dream garden. And it doesn’t hurt that looking at lush greenery helps take the mind of the many days of flurries and overcast skies that we must endure before getting to the time we’ll actually breaking ground on our garden.

*Ok, saying my heart was broken by my failed seed planting is admittedly a bit melodramatic, but somewhat well-founded. I took it in my head last spring that I wanted to replicate a lovely flower bed that my grandma had tended for years but which now sprouts only a few valiant tulips every spring. I was seduced by the colours on the seed packets and drawn in by the promise of bright, spiky dahlia, cheery shasta daisy and fragrant blue sage. And what did I get? Nada. Zero flowers even sprouted and the dream of gardening in my grandmother’s muddy footprints evaporated.

My other failed seed planting is a two-time lack of sunflowers. Sunflowers seem like a no-brainer: everyone has them. They grow like 8 feet high. And the two times I’ve planted them from seed I’ve gotten no where.

I love sunflowers. Their constant cheerfulness at their slightly absurd height is downright heartwarming. I want to grow them! But sunflowers remain my great white whale, though I vow to conquer them oooooone daaaayyyyy *stands on deck of ship shaking fist in air*