Tag Archives: seeds

The Green Doctor, kindred souls and squashes.

While I was waiting at the fairgrounds gate I saw people leaving with their arms full of watermelons. A woman walked past me wearing a green t-shirt with bold letters proclaiming, “Things go better with kale.”

Then my friend Linda arrived. We entered the Farm-Garden-Homesteading-Everything show and soon found ourselves at a poultry exhibit. When she invited me last week I hadn’t investigated ahead of time what all there would be to see, and chickens were a happy surprise.

As we were admiring the different breeds one exhibitor explained to us that the truest Rhode Island Reds are a very dark mahogany color, and there was a rooster to demonstrate it. He told us about the “Frizzle” gene that causes the feathers of any breed to grow backward.

We got into a discussion with him about whether the upcoming winter would be warmer than usual. He mentioned seeing scores of baby lizards at what would normally be too late in the year, and wild birds setting on new clutches of eggs. I wondered myself yesterday when I saw a bird pulling rice straw out of my strawberry barrels.

Last week I heard another opinion, that the lack of sunspots of late foretells a cold winter coming. I didn’t even know what sunspots were, and will like to see how winter reveals itself. A related question of no import is whether I will remember any of this come winter!

A young woman I’d met briefly at church was at this fair, selling wool that comes from her family’s fiber mill. Another friend was at the medicinal hemp oil booth. I listened to a bright lady from the South talking for 45 minutes about fermenting, as she occasionally sipped from her bottle of kombucha. I even took extensive notes on that talk, and her recipe for kimchi, knowing full well that I will never make it.

More applicable to my life was the cherry tomato tasting, from which Linda and I and even Master Gardener people at a separate booth concluded without a doubt that Green Doctor was our favorite. It was developed by two women who are both doctors 🙂 . By contrast, I ate a little Yellow Pear, while telling the volunteer behind the table that one summer I had grown this variety and thought I must have got a “lemon” of a pear because every fruit on the vine was tasteless. She answered flatly, “They always are.”

For someone like me who avoids shopping, the shopping at this event was certainly great fun. There were two places with vintage clothing and other used items, from which I chose aprons! One seed booth featured corn, beans, and amaranth, all of which were appealingly laid out in varied and rustic baskets. I did indulge in a packet of orange amaranth seeds, and Linda bought a scoop of the Hopi type below; we will share with each other.

By the time we reached the moringa booth I still had some adventuresome energy to expend, but was slowing down a bit in the legs and feet. When I saw the jug of very green drink they were freely offering, signed “Peppermint Moringa Tea,” I helped myself to a cup, and it felt like Strengthening Medicine. From what I learned, the leaves are in fact concentrated nutritionally, but more pertinent to my situation long-term were other aspects of the plant, that it is easy to grow and can thrive in my area, and — look at these dear seeds! I have to try some. Linda bought a small tree. Now I am trying to figure out some way I might organize all my hopelessly burgeoning garden ideas.

It was refreshing to listen to a motivational speaker who was urging us, not to maximize our financial wealth, but to find ourselves and our joy by digging in the dirt and learning how to grow things. To talk to a man who has been hand-forging beautiful tools for fifty years. We hated to leave his booth, where the trowels, coat racks and trivets wanted to be hefted and stroked and admired, and their creator seemed content that they be appreciated, knowing that most of us couldn’t afford to own them.

Hundreds of people all in one place with whom one might discuss natural pest controls and sheep breeds, Mason jars and succulents…. and species of scented geraniums. Linda and I each took home a little nutmeg-scented plant which will remind us of our outing together. I have a few close friends who are fellow-gardeners and who love to share our excitement with each other, but never before have I had a day as full to the brim of like-minded folk as bright and colorful as the squashes we had come to see.

Whatever winter will bring this year, it is not yet upon us, which means more hours and days I might prepare for it, while bringing in extra basil, strawberries, and figs. Now that I’ve returned from the dream-invigorating festival, it’s back to the Real, my own garden.

All without me were seeds only.

Glorious autumn showers! We are having several days of warmish gentle rain. I attended my grandson’s freshman football game in Davis and we paltry few fans sat on aluminum benches with drippings from our neighbors’ umbrellas slowly wetting us. But we didn’t need sweaters under our rain jackets, and the rain was laving our dust-layers, as it is described in the poem below.

On my drive over, I heard a garden man on the radio tell how this is the perfect time to scatter our poppy seeds and other such perennials. I am hoping to do that if I can synchronize my schedule with the pauses between showers. I have these two packets that I had decided not to start earlier in the greenhouse, and also my milkweed seeds from Siskiyou County… and perhaps I still have North Coast lupine seeds I collected years ago. We’ll see if the breaks in the rain are long enough for my deliberations about which patches of ground are likely for my experiments. And then: let the Poem of the Earth descend!



And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed,
and yet the same,
I descend to lave the drouths, atomies*, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own
origin, and make pure and beautify it;

(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wander-
Reck’d or unreck’d, duly with love returns.)

-Walt Whitman


*atomy: a skeleton or emaciated body.

work and happiness

Years ago Kate gave to one or both of us this rain gauge, which I have started using again in the new garden. In 24 hours we got more than an inch. Today it was raining steadily in thIMG_1577 1-12-16 24 hrse morning, and I wished I could stay home and read, but I needed to run some errands, so I went out in my boots with my collapsed umbrella sticking out of my purse.

I never used the umbrella. It was one of those “scattered thundershowers” kind of days, where it’s pouring for three or four minutes, then the clouds run off to the edges of the sky and the blue heavens open up briefly. When I got in the car to drive to the next store the rain would pitter-patter on my windshield, only until I turned off the engine in the parking lot. By this gift I was assured of breathing the cleanest and most invigorating air, and I was so glad that I hadn’t missed it all sitting indoors.

The reason for my errands was to buy ingredients to make a dinner meal that I later took to a semi-“shut-in” from church. When I delivered the food she welcomed me to stay and talk for a while, which I was eager to do because she is a widow, who just mentioned her late husband to me at church on Sunday; I wanted to hear her story. Though she’s been without him a lot longer than I have been missing mine, she still lives with the difficulty of acceptance, and part of her “can’t believe” that her other half gone, though she knows very well where he is buried. IMG_1568 1-12-16

Yesterday IMG_1571 1-12-16was a good day, too. Before it started to rain my neighbor brought his twin boys and a third boy down to help stack my new delivery of firewood. With five of us working, it took all of twenty joyful minutes to deal with half a cord of oak logs, including the cleanup. Finally, all of the extra wood, buckets, leftover base rock, scraps of this and that, are gone from the driveway, because the new gravel utility yard is done, where I intended all along to put back the last remaining stuff I want to keep.

After the boys finished up, I kept working for another hour or more, though the wind was coming up and the air was chilling, alerting me to the storm coming in. I spent some time furnishing and puttering in my new greenhouse. Here was another thing that is hard to fully believe: Me, owner of a greenhouse.greenhouse first putter 2015-01-12

I lugged eight cinder blocks from the driveway and made two stacks with them, and found a piece of plywood to put on top to make a potting bench. Then I tidied up. There was mud on the floor, and dead leaves from the plants that got frosted before I moved them inside. I found an old tub to keep under my potting bench to put organic matter in, when I am trimming things.


seed savers catalog



A few days ago when I was waiting for my oil to be changed I leafed through the latest Seed Savers’ Exchange catalog and my vagueness morphed into excitement about what I might plant in my new raised beds.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had the proper soil for carrots. I drooled over the beets, and imagined Painted Lady beans climbing my trellis. It won’t be long before I can start some of these things right in the rich soil in my beautiful boxes. Other more tender plants like tomatoes and squash I can start in the greenhouse if I want. Or, if I don’t want, I may putter less productively.

I do feel overcome, at least once a day, with all the things I need to do and want to do, the unfinished projects and the new projects that would sound inviting, if it weren’t for all the undone things weighing on me. I’m thankful that I have enough strength and energy to do one task at a time, and while I’m doing it I don’t think about the other work. Here is a good place to wrap up with a pertinent quote from John Ruskin, which seems to explain some of my happiness:

“In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it.”

Thank you, Lord!