With all the not good going on, I have two exciting pieces of news to share. I have received my feedback on my final exam project for my Permaculture Course and I passed!!! I am happy and now have to figure out what the next thing to do is. While it was a pass / fail grade, they did offer some feedback on it in several categories. I “exceeded expectations” in several categories (yay me) but only “met expectations” in several others. I am curious what I can do to improve in those categories, especially since one of them was creativity!
My second joyful excitement is that I have purchased a new camera. My Olympus Evolt DSLR has been my trusty camera for years. Like over 10 years and we have taken thousands of pictures together. The flash had long stopped working but I soldiered on with it, coming up with creative ways to take pictures inside with poor light. It still worked great outside. Well, now its eyes have stopped focusing and that is quite a lot harder to work around as it has an auto focus that just got stuck going in and out and never taking the picture despite my firm repeated pressing of the button. This prevaricating wears out the battery very quickly. So it is time… We ordered a Cannon Rebel T6 with a bunch of toys and it just arrived today! Since it also takes video, we might be putting up more content for my Youtube channel now too.
|The view out my window while sitting on the couch coughing.|
This past Thursday (after 15 days of feeling dreadful) was the first day I felt like trying to do anything because I wanted to rather than had to. I sat down at the kitchen table with all my notes, several clipboards, my big calendar, my weekly planner and began to detail all my schedules. You know when you have things flying around in your brain that need to be done but you don’t have time or can’t get to it and it causes anxiety? I had that multiplied by about six. It took me two and a half hours to get my life back under control and my lists all organized.
I am currently coordinating two large gatherings – a music festival in June and a large church celebration called Sukkot in September. I am the Children’s Garden coordinator and head weeder / teacher at the local library with several projects, plans and classes that I am heading up and teaching this spring and summer for them. I teach a couple garden classes for a Home Maintenance Program associated with Habitat for Humanity. I play on several different volleyball teams and the new schedules had come out but I hadn’t written them down yet. Passover is in 5 weeks and all the preparation for Unleavened bread needs to start now. I am helping with a nephew’s wedding and I made a list of the items I need to make / complete to sell this summer at the music festival. Needless to say, I didn’t get to my jewelry this week.
I did however feel much more in control and started looking forward to all the awesome opportunities I get to be a part of rather than dread how far behind I was. I read an interesting blog once about the idea to take the time to plan when you don’t have any time. It seems counterintuitive to stop rushing about to complete tasks because of an approaching deadline, and to figure out what actually has to be done and in what order. Taking the time when you don’t have time actually saves time… and your adrenal glands.
The project that I did work on this weekend was my piles of seeds. I have not yet figured out my garden plan for this spring. We are doing an overhaul of the gardens and yards and I will have three 8 x 4 foot beds to plant rather than my usual twelve. This is a huge temporary decrease in space, but when we are done I will have two 100 x 5 foot beds to play with. It will be totally worth it! I finally have room to grow a watermelon!
I have ordered seed. I have gone to a seed swap at the local Bee Club that I am a semi participant in. (I don’t have bees yet and I usually have a volleyball game the same evening of the monthly meetings so I’m not a very good attendee either.) I have harvested seed from our yard and have mysteriously obtained packets of seed from random places that I no longer remember. All of these seeds ended up in a big basket to be sorted, entered into the seed database on the computer and alphabetically filed. It was a big pile. Not only do I add all the new seeds to the seed cabinet and database, I also go through both annually to match what seed stock I have with the list. I often use up or give away seed throughout the season but don’t always keep track of it on the list.
|Baskets of possibilities|
|The piles of seeds sorted alphabetically to facilitate|
In order to decide what plants I wanted to start this spring, I had to clean up my mess to see what I actually had. I can’t start a new mess until I clean up the previous one. This might be a good thing or a terrible thing, as it keeps the overall possible disaster to a minimum, but also greatly encourages procrastination if the previous pile is not put away. Hence the necessity of my 52 week challenge.
|It took me hours to go through every bag of seeds but it is all accurate and tidy now.|
Well sorting seed packets is not incredibly exciting unless you come across a problem like mold in your saved seed bags. We didn’t dry out the seed well enough or there was too much moisture in the air when we sealed the bag. We should have put a couple of little desiccant packs in the bag. There was a bag of purple podded pole beans and a bag of seed from big winter squash that were coated with a light green dusting of mold. I made the mistake of opening one of them to investigate and ended up coughing and having an allergic reaction to it for the next several hours. Sir T rescued me by taking both bags out and putting them in the garage. I don’t know if they’ll be ok or not out there but I am much better in here away from them.
|Ugh! Rooky seed saver mistake – we didn’t get all the moisture removed from the bag before sealing.|
A joyful discovery was one of my chestnut seeds had sprouted! I got the seeds at the bee seed swap and had them tucked into damp moss to help them germinate. I had honestly forgotten about them. I don’t think I even stratified them… Huh, I really don’t remember. Being sick made me loose some memory files I believe. Anyway, I have at least one! You need two to pollinate each other so I’m half way there!
|Poor Timothy, there is yet ANOTHER tree growing in the house. This one will get put outside in the spring.|
So when all was sorted, typed in and filed, I have 560 seeds entries recorded. Some of these are the same plant variety but just a different year or supplier. For example I have Rainbow Swiss Chard seed from Garden’s Alive and Baker Creek so that is counted as two entries. I also have a favorite lettuce mixture from two different years so that is under two different entries. However, I have multiple packs of the same seed, same year and supplier under one entry such as 5 packages of alyssum which I plan to plant in the baby orchard as a quick ground cover as it seems to not mind my sand as long as it gets some water. It may not be the most concise way to enter my seed data but it is very easy to do searches via name, the Latin family name or the year it was packed. It also means I have over 600 packages of seeds… I might have a seed hoarder problem.
|DONE!! Now it can return to the cool basement in my garden corner.|
I did read quite a few garden blogs last week while I sat coughing. It was as good a time as any to catch up on my back emails. I came across a comment written by a seed grower in Vermont rejoicing that the number of daylight hours had crossed the threshold of greater than 10 hours. His date of joy was February 5th. It got me wondering when my date was. After a ridiculously easy google search, I discovered that my 10 hour day was February 3rd. We had descended into 14 plus hours of darkness the previous November 10. At our winter solstice, our shortest day, we receive a measly 9 hours and 1 minute of day. That is if the sky was clear. Otherwise it is just a slightly lighter color of gloom.
The reason WHY I care about this (other than eagerly awaiting the return of warmth to my part of the world) is because plants stop growing with less than 10 hours of daylight. Even if it were warmish – say in a greenhouse not tricked out with grow lights, the plants would go into a hibernation of sorts and just stop growing. Thus, for many reasons all dealing with plants and more possibilities for sunshine, February 3rd is a day to celebrate. Hmmmmm…. Maybe I should make it a holiday and have a party… Let’s Grow Again Day! Right… If you have a cooler / better name for my new celebration let me know your ideas. You might get invited!