Spring Plants Come Home

It was a bit of a drive this morning, to get to the spring organic plant sale at an “ecology center” I’d never visited before. My main reason for going was to get tomato plants that are grown and tested in a place that is of a similar climate to us; I don’t want another Pitiful Tomato Summer. Oh, our tri-color cherry tomatoes saved us last year, but all the space and attention we gave to the regular tomatoes was not equal to the reward.

I was a little puzzled as to why they were having their sale so early; we never plant tomatoes until the first of May. But I thought I could just keep the plants under cover for another couple of weeks. As it turns out, I won’t have to do that, because when I arrived at the sale right after it started at 9 a.m., I couldn’t find what should have been a giant collection of tomato plants. “We will sell those at our next sale, May 1st,” a staff person told me. Aha! I hadn’t nosed around long enough on the website to learn all I needed to know.

My trip was not for nought, however. I’m glad for my error; otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered going there. I’d have missed the lovely drive under clouds, along fields spotted with Spanish Broom. This plant always reminds me of a time when Pippin was a toddler and I’d pack her on the back of my bicycle in the mornings to ride for a few miles along banks of broom in bloom, our heads filling with the sweet scent as we breezed by.

Today I also saw one of the remaining fields of fava beans. I love how these grow almost secretly all winter, and then when we emerge from our winter dens they are already tall and robust. Along with asparagus and artichokes, they used to keep my former (bigger) garden busy until we were ready to plant more tender things. I forgot to take my camera, so I found the fava pic on the Internet.

Even though there were no tomatoes, I found several enticing items to spend my money on, what with so many healthy looking young specimens spread out on tables under trees.

As long as we’ve lived in our current place, I have been unsuccessful at growing New Zealand Spinach from seed. Though it’s not a true spinach, I really appreciated it in the past for the way it grows all the hot summer long and is handy to toss into any dish where you want the flavor of spinach. As I recall, I mostly used it in Creamy Green Soup, a Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook recipe. My gardener-heart rejoiced to see a six-pack of my old friends, so I snatched that up first thing.

After a friend gave me a cutting once, I had rose geraniums propagating all over the yard for several years. But they had all died; I brought this one home to parent a new generation.

I bought some bachelor’s buttons, which I don’t recall growing before, and a Hummingbird Sage, which I might plant at church instead of home.

And three little pots each holding a different type of flat-leafed parsley! In the picture you can see a fourth little pot on the left, of Copper Fennel. Don’t know what I’ll do with that, other than chew on the feathery leaves if there are enough of them.

To get back to my car, I had to hike up a steep hill, carrying my box of plants. That was a good thing; I knew at the outset not to choose too big a box, or I’d have to make two trips.

Close to the plant sale is a nursery that I don’t get to very often, so I had to stop in there, to see if they had snapdragons and stock in the colors I wanted. They did! And they had several other things that begged to go with me, which I was kind enough to arrange.

When I got home I took a picture of the whole caboodle. Oh, but that was after I stopped at another nursery closer by, just to see if they had any taller snapdragons yet, which they didn’t.

Rain was beginning to fall, so I decided to just go home and write my report on my morning. I’ve been up since Mr. Glad’s alarm went off at 5:20, and before I went plant shopping I swam at the gym. So I’m almost worn out already.

Yesterday my young church friend C. worked with me in the garden here for almost two hours, and it helped me tremendously to have a willing and diligent companion as I broke through the months-long growth of mammoth weeds.

C. carried dozens of loads of pulled weeds to the garbage can, and cleared layers of pine needles from the path and off the cyclamen and manzanita. He never stopped moving, even while he told me all about his favorite books and movies, and about cartoon characters he has created. I’m going to try to have him at least twice a month, as a concession to my aging body that hurts and slows down when I abuse it by stooping, pulling, hauling and pruning for more than a couple of hours at a time. He might help me with housework, too. But this week we stuck to the garden and even planted some lilies.

7 thoughts on “Spring Plants Come Home

  1. Ah, the nursery shopping joys…I wish I'd been with you. Try Cherokee Purple if you can for Tomatoes…I am getting nothig but good reports and thus far my seedlings in the greenhouse have done fine.

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  2. As soon as I get a semblance of normality in my new house I'm going to start planting things. This is all so encouraging and smells so herby and greeny and good. I was looking at photos on someone else's blog earlier and I could practically smell the damp earthiness of her garden path!

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  3. Oh, btw, I found 3 brandywine tomato plants last week. I haven't grown these in many years, and am looking forward to them. I put them in large pots, so if we have to move, perhaps I can take them along.

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  4. What a wonderful shopping trip! I am not tempted by racks of clothes, but I can NOT resist flats of luscious plants, begging to be plopped into turned, black soil. What a joy! I hope they all thrive 🙂

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  5. I just love going to the nurseries and enjoyed seeing what you found there. I'm always looking for just the right tomato plant to buy too and often I'm too late and get what I get instead of what I want. I have some heirloom tomato seeds that I think I'll plant in paper cups and try to transplant later this spring. We don't begin gardening here until late May. I'm itching to dig.

    Jody

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  6. We are really hoping to have a little kitchen-table garden this year. It's been a number of years since we had a real garden. We've got the soil in place and a few of the seeds planted. I think it would be wise to plant a few things that have already sprouted, so we can see them right away, instead of peering anxiously into the soil, looking and looking for little green ears. Your post inspires me to persevere! xo Kari

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  7. After growing up in the midwest, where farms only grew corn and soybeans, when we moved to California for a short while, I found the variety of California agriculture surprising and delightful – who knew there was a farm dedicated to fava beans? May your garden prove fruitful!

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