Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 17

Seeding in the shade. What? Basil. A flat of basil. And flowers. Because these are things I don't know how to grow and that's why they are interesting to me. And because of the ongoing mystery of how to use the greenhouse (step 1: get shade cloth). And because of what we are planning to do to the garage, which necessitates almost total destruction of at least one and maybe all of the garden beds and a totally new plan for the center of the yard. Which still feels up in the air. Risky, essential, confusing. So: flowers. And basil.

Peas, shallots, potatoes, kale, arugula.

Big beautiful child.

A rainy day bouquet.


A garden makes food. It provides solitude and solace. It connects us to the seasons, the rhythms, the beauty - of the world we belong to, rather than the world which we believe belongs to us. Also, it is a place to gather. Easter (which I prefer to celebrate as close to the Spring Equinox as possible) has been a thing in this garden ever since we stopped having big community gatherings for Zelda's birthday - maybe five years now? We have done it in the pouring rain in rain suits, and in our frilliest pastels. And each year I am delighted to see the kids get their faces right down in the wood violets, or under the tangle of bolted arugula as they hunt for their sugar fix. Spring really does feel like a million little miracles, and as we hide and they search, we find ones we hadn't known were there.

But this year, somehow, the garden seemed too small for all our people. The big kids are getting big, and the parties keep getting bigger. The Jesus version of Easter was a full month later than the Equinox, and I'm still feeling sensitive from the fuss that went down at Christmas when I said I liked celebrating the Solstice better. So I just didn't do anything about easter. And then it was the Saturday before the resurrection and I ended up with all five of my girls, and so we went to Fred Meyer and bought a Paas kit and some easter corn (green, pink, and baby blue candy corn. yes.). It was a bare bones event, but they were pleased. They wanted me to know that it mattered, I could feel it. I made them help me stuff the plastic eggs before I hid them, and they got the idea to put flowers and rocks and grass into some of them. April-fool-eggs. And then they hunted and we lolled about on the deck as they deeply indulged in corn syrup and did gross things with the melting candy.

We live in very weird times. I'm not sure how to show them what matters, or if what matters to me will continue to matter at all on this changing planet. But home does matter, and plants always matter. So, I guess, back to the garden.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Plant the peas when the crocus bloom. After the crocus bloom. See the daffodils - the first ones - in the background there? Tie the first string first, and seed underneath. Ideally after a mycorrhizal soak. Which they didn't get this year. I ran out of powder. But after the reading I've been doing, I'm buying more for sure. Never running out again. Gonna need a special fridge compartment for film and fungus powder.

Speaking of our most valued citizens. HELLO MOSS FAIRIES. (or lichen fairies? or hornworts or liverworts -- Patrick, we need to talk, but these are releasing spores either way, right?)

March is long and sometimes looks like February, but with longer arugula to match the longer days. 

Again, long month. From here (May) this looks like the saddest thing. But back then I can distinctly remember thinking that I never expected to see anything so hopeful in this garden ever again.

Re: daffodils and sunglasses and coffee. This was March 16th. 

Freak March day of t shirts and ice cream. Really I am so glad this didn't last.

First little guy. This patch is (clearly) overgrown with the stuff I let grow there to displace the grass I am always trying to kill. I dunno. This was literally the first thing we planted in this yard and it has been great - just eating raw, freshly cut asparagus is a #peaklifeexperience - but I wouldn't say that I understand what the asparagus wants. Or maybe I am not willing to give it what it wants. I might let the experts grow it after this. But whoa, eating ferns is rad. And it makes that amazing instant pee smell? I mean, asparagusic acid!? They made that up. Do fiddleheads make your pee smell? I am going to check. 


Plentiful harvests of corn salad and arugula from the tunnel, both planted (if throwing seed at the earth just before a rain is called 'planting') from saved seed in November. Clara remembered last summer's twelve foot tall sunflowers from their decomposing stalks. I showed her their root balls, chalky with fungal hyphae and reminded her how we left them there to help the soil grow. She spent the late fall hunting mushrooms all over the city (if not actually eating the ones we brought home from the market) so she was pleased to know that this micorrhizal relationship counted as Found Fungi.

The carrots suffered from all the cold (spongy, uk) so we dug them all up. I didn't mulch them back when I could have, though I should have, because of PNW winter mulch lessons I've learned in the past (read: slugs). Tip this way, tip that way. I roasted them, and cut them small for soffritto. Clara and I planted paperweights and crocus for forcing. Our fingers froze. 

Bunnies like to eat Camellia leaves. And flowers. And bark. They have made themselves a little fort by biting and nosing branch bits around. The frost killed the worms in my nascent bunny poo processing area under their hutch. It is lovely to have somewhere to throw weeds and grass - the buns come running in delight. 


It snowed, in an historic way. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Daffodils, order in 11.6.2016

Too hard to tell when this was taken, because of busted iPhoto. The spring Clara was 2, I think.

I ordered bulbs today, better late than never. I'll put most of them in the front yard.

Every year when they are up I know just what shapes and pieces of the season are missing. And every fall it all seems totally abstract.

Maybe this fall that will all change.

Some mysteries of this blog/garden/life: do I really want to bring the details up where I can see them? Or do I like it better to be surprised, wondering, not quite keeping up? Do I want the former but am unwilling/unable to put in the work it takes? Do I like the latter but feel embarrassed by the mess?

Can I uncover a space where these dualities are not so compelling? Not so opposed?

Friday, November 4, 2016

zz in the garden

When we first started this garden, I was pregnant. When Z came, on many, many days, she liked it better outside. 

She did not stop moving, and she was sensorily sensitive and easily overloaded. Interesting how those kids are so often the ones standing delightedly under the biggest drip at the park.

She was also very hungry, bursting metabolically, but also, again, sensitive to overwhelm. Dairy, processed food, sweets. Her skin told us, her poop, her sleep and tone. I was an equally sensitive mama, and felt better when I could tell she was calm in her gut.

I can't remember when she started showing interest in TV. It was much later than we started showing interest in having her watch TV, that's for sure. She needed a lot of interaction, but was also a shy kid. A strong leader with her intimates, she could withdraw very quickly under the glare of a stranger's focus.

The way I dealt, on so many days, with being at home so much, with Zelda and Lindy, and then with these two and Anastasia, was to get outside. We all delighted in it. It pulled us toward each other.

Zelda has grown up in this garden. I imagine that it is one of the parts of her life that is so close to her as to escape notice. She is a natural gatherer (as we all are, no?) and has the skills for long, patient looking. Sometimes she hoards, sometimes she eats as she goes. She has never stopped loving vegetables, or touching worms. She can scream along with her friends, but she keeps coming back to the open, comfortable baseline that she has always held in the out of doors.

These days, the rock box wine is made by her little sister, and Zelda is one of the mildly bored recipients, condescending to fake-drink and wildly complimenting the vintage. I was afraid that I would need to crack down on tree climbing this summer because the eight year olds are growing (much) faster than the dogwood. But she just didn't do it much. She doesn't fit in there the way she used to. The swings and drops are too small, and her feet bump. 

They sit around, leaning on things, talking about who knows what. They do cartwheels and run routines on the swings. She will still occasionally make a fairy house. She can get most herbs for me now, knows their places and whether she needs scissors. When I can get her alone, she will help clear out the leaves and rotten apples to keep the spot off the trees. She helps thin the carrots, as the bunnies wait (as bunnies do) for the tops.