Friday, January 29, 2010

It's my party, and I'll play in the dirt if I want to

I had to laugh a bit about this weekend. It’s my birthday and anniversary weekend, and not so long ago what I would have considered an “awesome” way to spend it would have involved a hotel, or a meal involving linen table cloths and a splendid wine list, or maybe a trip to a day spa or something like that.

This year, I’m taking two days off my “paycheck” job and am spending most of the four day weekend grubbing around in my muddy backyard, getting things ready for the spring planting that is approaching like a speeding locomotive.

Oh yeah, party at my place! Bring your gloves and shovels, kids!

Spring comes early out here in the Central Valley. Our average last frost day is around February 10, for Pete’s sake. It’s time to get the seedlings started inside, the back forty(feet) ready to transplant them, to get the winter’s crop of weeds pulled, the compost and fertilizer spread and worked in, the next batch of compost busy cooking.

It’s pretty hard physical work, and it will undoubtedly ruin my fingernails and set my back throbbing and I don’t doubt that I will also utterly destroy my work boots while I’m at it. We’ve had a lot of rain, good soaking rain that has topped off our gray water storage and saturated the ground.

It’s pretty slushy out there right now – which makes it the perfect time for weeding, actually, because they pop out of wet earth root and all much more easily than they do when the ground is dry…along with copious amounts of mud and such.

Pretty far cry from day spas, crisp white linen tablecloths, and wines with “amusing bouquets” or “hints of cinnamon, blueberries and eraser dust.”

But it’s exactly what I want to be doing. We thought about all those other things; this is usually around the time when my parents will watch the kids for a long weekend while we go off to reconnect and enjoy being able to do exactly what we want, when we want – without anybody needing a diaper change, a potty break, a snack, to get out and throw up (it’s great having kids who get motion sick, really).

But this year, well, I just want to be working out in the garden, getting ready for the end of this slow-to-no growth time of limited sunlight and warmth, getting ready for the miracle of watching seeds turn into plants with food erupting off them.

I confess I’ve always been charmed by the way that works, which makes it all the more surprising that it took me so long to get a garden of my own where I could watch it happening all up close and personal-like.

Still…I had to laugh. How things can change over the course of time, huh? There was a time when the “perfect” day off involved room service and pedicures. This morning, I got to “sleep” in (I wasn’t actually asleep, but I stubbornly stayed in bed anyway because it was warm and there was a principle of the thing, too) while the husband got the Denizens off to daycare.

It was awesome.

And then I read the newspaper. On a week day.

Will the luxury never cease?!

And then the rest of the day, and the weekend, and my anniversary day, will be spent yanking out weeds, resetting the “field markers” (remember the string strung around the yard to break it up into smaller “beds” thing?), setting up the trellis system so I can grow pole beans along the back fence, spreading compost, and building a new compost pile.


Go ahead, try to tell me I don’t know how to par-tay…

P.S.: I just bought my seeds for the coming year, from two different places: Gurney’s (which I’ve used before and been very happy with), and Henry Field’s (which is new to me). Now…call me crazy…but their websites are almost identical. Their prices are almost identical (Gurney’s offers more of the ‘buy two or more, pay a buck less each’ thing) (I got some cranberries! They’re supposed to do OK in shade, and I’ve got a tough spot in the yard that is about 50/50 sun/shade, and tricky because it gets a lot of leaf-debris, which is apparently something the cranberries will appreciate. Here’s hoping) (also? I love cranberries. Cranberry sauce, cranberry jelly, cranberry juice, bring it on!). Their checkout screens are almost identical. And my account number is identical, except Henry Field’s has two extra digits at the end.

Coincidence? I think not…

BUT! Henry Field’s had jalapeno-and-only-jalapeno seeds, and Gurney’s didn’t (they only offered a ‘mixed’ packet with everything from jalapeno to cayenne, which isn’t bad mind you but my ‘pepper’ bed is relatively small and I want to make sure I get what I really want, and I can’t tell a jalapeno seed from a bell pepper one, can you?). They also had Christmas lima beans…which I’m planning to grow among the corn and pumpkins this year. Allegedly, they make good neighbors to each other (I know the corn and pumpkins are friendly, because I grew those together last year and they played very nicely together), and the pole beans will use the corn stalks as their trellis, which I think is kinda cool (mostly because it means yay, I don’t have to buy anything else for them to climb!).

Furthermore, each of them (if there really is a ‘them’ and it isn’t just one company with two or more faces…because frankly? All the seed catalogs I got this year looked suspiciously similar…) offered me $25 off a $50 or more purchase. So I split my $100 in seeds and such evenly between them and paid $50 for the whole order, and it didn’t even cost me anything extra in shipping – I checked. Because I am weird that way. Woot.


Louiz said...

Happy Birthday and Anniversary and enjoy your plants:)

Tina said...

Copyright © 2010 Scarlet Tanager LLC, d/b/a Henry Field's Seed and Nursery Co. All Rights Reserved
Henry Field's trademarks are registered trademarks of Scarlet Tanager LLC

Copyright ©; 2010 Scarlet Tanager LLC, d/b/a Gurney Seed and Nursery Co. All Rights Reserved
Gurney's trademarks are registered trademarks of Scarlet Tanager LLC

Found on the bottom of both sites!!

Unknown said...

You Lucky Sod!! Spring by Feb? I live in MA, and I'll just barely place a seed order by February
Enjoy the day and the season!

Anonymous said...

I'm willing to bet most seed companies are owned by Monsanto these days, anyway. :-(

marit said...

Happy Birthday and anniversary!!!

It sounds like a pretty perfect weekend, actually! And you can always enjoy the spa-feeling in the bathtub after all that hard work!
It's hard to imagine there will ever be spring again, though- we have SNOW!!! I had to start the tractor today and showel it away from our was just too much to drive through...

Good luck with your plants/seeds, I wish we could split the rain and sun between us- we have plenty of rain, and not so much sun...

Steph B said...

You're really tempting me to try a garden this year. Stop it.

knitinsage said...

happy celebrating in the mud! congratulations and best wishes.

and LOL Steph B -- ditto!

Astrosquirrel said...

Somethin' must have been in the air...clear across the continent! I had a great time on Sunday afternoon playing in my own patch of veggies (in FL).
Steph B and Knitinsage -- you gotta just DO it! Tip from personal experience: buy starts at the mega-mart for your first'll be able to jump in much faster than if you had to propagate seeds.
Happy Annibirthday, Mother Chaos!