Friday, February 25, 2011

Snow days and garden planning.

It's 9 degrees Fahrenheit. I have gardening magazines and books strewn around the house in all my reading corners. I am trying to remember the gardens of my childhood and be realistic about what I can actually grow in Washington versus California. A week ago a childhood friend posted that the almond trees were blooming. I miss that. Those orchards are indelibly fixed in my mind. I would watch out the window as the rows of trees were first diagonal as we approached in the car and then straight back and then diagonal again as we passed. My memories are of blue sky above the trees, green patches of grass at their bases and delicate clouds of blossoms suspended in their branches.

I also have memories of strawberries from the garden, a massive bed of asparagus (that I didn't eat- but whose fern-like growth I admired), and the grapes we planted and weren't able to harvest before we moved.  I remember bell peppers and corn.  I remember the cherry tree in our neighbors yard that hung a little over the fence. And I remember the classroom bunny, "Fluffy," that I got to take home at summer and keep.

The fact is, with a bad back, I can't do much of the garden work I wish I could. Digging, hoeing, or anything repetitive sends me into migraine land.  So I have to meter out my enthusiasm with what I can convince my hubby to do in his "spare time." Last year he built me two 2 x 5 redwood boxes to plant and gave me several big pots as well. But now I have designs for other parts of the yard -the yard that is currently under deep snow.

For now, I read and reread favorite books and study companion planting, soil amendments, and water saving techniques. I have internal debates over a plant's possible contribution to an edible landscape or what other permaculture principles it may fit. Dare I plant something for mere ornamentation? Or what am I going to do with all that chicken manure accumulating out there? Can I convince Grant to build a rabbit hutch this year? Can I sneak a cow out back? Yes, these possibilities are the luxury of winter thoughts about gardening or animal husbandry.  As soon as the ground is actually workable and my simple hand trowel meets the soil, this kind of thinking will shrink drastically as I realize the resistance in my own body to so much "optional" work. It's all about pacing myself.

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