Am I Ready?

Fall bulbs have finally arrived. Am I ready to plant? Each year I think so, then they arrive, and I’m surprised.

This unusual fall weather equals ripening tomatoes plus oak leaves on the ground.

I am grateful for nature’s blessings this year.


UPDATE…here is the fall harvest update for this year.


I’m ready, my friends. Seed catalog in hand (thank you Fedco Seeds, my long time seed partner). List at the ready. Online ordering up and humming. I’m off and running.

Here are my plans for this season, so follow along as I try to 1.) grow more fruits and vegs this year than last year’s weak offering. (2009 was a MUCH better year!) 2.) watch me fail at three or more new plants – I can NEVER get melons to grow in my garden. Ever. So I’m trying them in a pot, in the front of the house where they will have hot feet (driveway) and hot tops (southern exposure.) I’ll probably still fail. Sigh. 3.) Get in shape BEFORE the gardening season. That means = Yoga, Cardio and Strength training. Ugh.

What am I ordering this year? All OG please (organically grown). List includes:

Beans, Vermont Cranberry / BAD harvest
Beans, Taylor Dwarf / Sick of beans, let go to seed
Beans, Northeaster / Really sick of beans now
Beans, Kentucky Wonder (okay, not OG) / Really. sick. Of. Beans.
Corn, Ashworth OG (expecting this to be eaten by raccoons) / did not ave courage to plan
Melon, Jenny Lind (sucker) / really, this tried to grow, but pooped out late sept.
Cukes, Little Leaf / great little dukes
Cukes, Poona Kheera / lemony dukes, bright yellow
Cukes, Marketmore 76 / huge dukes, but a little woody
Zuchinni and squash – I haven’t decided yet / eight. Ball zuke, nice. Yellow crookneck, okay
Carrots, Tonda di Parigi (great in Minnesota) / oops. Forgot to plant.
Carrots, Nantes Fancy
Radishes, Cherry Belle / lots of leaves, no bulb
Radish, Easter Egg / see Cheryl belle
Onions – still considering seed versus last year’s bulbs / white and reds, but not doing well. Waiting for spring harvest. Will overwinter them.
Lettuce, Black seeded simpson
Lettuce, Salad Bowl
Lettuce, Tango
Lettuce, North Pole
Parsley, Gigante d’Italia
Broccoli, Limba (cutworms will kill this)
Celery, Ventura ECO/BD
Peppers, King of the North
Pepper, Purple Beauty
Pepper, Hot Mix
Tomatillo, Verde Puebla
Tomato, Garden Peach
Tomato, Black Prince
Tomato, Green Zebra
Tomato, Pink Brandywine
Tomato, Paul Robeson
Tomato, Pineapple (new to me!)
Tomato, Old German (new to me!)
Cherry tom, Be My Baby
Tomato, Heirloom Tom Mix
Tomato, Juliet (okay, its a hybrid. great for paste!!!)
Basil, Sweet OG
Cilantro, Caribe

And then am also ordering potatoes!
Organic Fingerlings, La Ratte
Organic Early, Dark Red Norland
Organic Mid-Season, Yellow Finn and Adirondack Red
Organic Late, Butte

That’s it. I’m tired already.

Fall Bulb Time

Bulbs ready for planingSo fast my head spins arrive the bulbs I forgot I ordered. Now is the season for crinkly covered beauties – Allium, Daffodils, Narcissus, Oriental Lilies, White Garlic, Red Garlic, low border mixes and “Purple Sensation”.

To see them out of the bag is both disappointing and exciting. In my mind’s eye, I can see them next spring – the snow still on the ground in the northside, crocus popping up and a cool breeze combing through the remains of the landscape grass. And then these beauties, these lovely orange, gold and yellow circled beauties. Celebrating the spring as will I.

My daughter said that spring was her least favorite time of year, that fall, now, was her favorite. I asked her why and she said it was because its “all brown and wet and cold”. And she’s right, its all that.

But spring in Minnesota is also a trembling pale green sheen, that gently, softly creeps over the landscape. Its cold nights, wet mornings, cool afternoons of hard blue skies.

And its about watching the first allium poke their snoots out from the cold ground. The clover and the daffodils and the primroses unfurling like a rolled sail. Its blinking once and then – there – the first…whatever of the year.

Enjoy this putting-away time. Spring is just around the corner.

P.S. I get my fine bulbs from the Maine co-op at Fedco Seeds (and Bulbs, Potatoes and other things.) I like them a lot. They write black and white recycled paper catalogs and subversive diatribes on the dangers of GMOs. www.Fedcoseeds.com

Woke up at 2 a.m. this morning to gentle summer rains and window blinds banging. After church, my husband made breakfast – windows now wide open with bacon frying. Can there be a better smell than fresh earth, rain, bacon frying and laundry in the dryer? Only in summer can I experience this.

Picked three pounds of raspberries in the hot sun, and interrupted many leaf hoppers. I thought at first they were hornets, but thank goodness no.

I’m behind – behind picking raspberries – overripe berries fell at my feet just touching the branches. I’m behind at planting – just got lettuce, fall spinach and beets seeded in. I’m behind at work – at least it feels like it.

Maybe its the season, the knowing we have so few days to go before the kids are off to college, before the frost, before the holidays are with us again.

My seasonal clock is ticking away, and ticking me off.

I work all day inside, far from my beloved garden. Its mornings like this – warm, humid, misty – that I wonder about my life choices. Don’t get me wrong – I love my life, my work, my job. I’m blessed many times over.

But I do wonder sometimes – why do I garden? Why do any of us garden? By some accounts, there is a natural, organic need to dig in the earth and create your own food.

Why do I garden? To balance my day job with real, tangible work. There is nothing more grounding than to roll up the day with dirt under your nails and between your toes.

Why do I garden? To hear bird song missed during a day under roof. Trees carry their own tune outdoors, if you listen hard enough.

Why do I garden? To smell the earth, that beefy, green-yet-sweet scent. Tones of vanilla, jasmine, cut grass, mint drift in front of me in my garden.

Why do I garden? To feel my body awakening, muscles loosening, stress bleed away. To stand solid on the earth and observe the sky, the trees, feel the wind on my face and arms.

To garden is to be a human.

Its been a five months hiatus, but the Mishek Garden is back up and running! This year, I’m focused on some new veggies and fruit in my garden – corn (yes, I know, boring but I’ve never tried it!), gooseberries, plums and some new strawberry plants.

I’m also trying some new (to me) tomatoes, grown from seed. Garden Peach, Pink Brandywine, Paul Robeson, Black Prince, Green Zebra, Yellow Pear and Rose de Berne.

I’m also trying more flowers this year, including Impatiens from seed (“Super Elfin Mix”), African Marigolds, Blue Wave Petunias (off to a slow start) and an Autumn Beauty Mix Sunflower, which is supposed to be a short, vibrant yellow, orange and gold mixture.

I’ll be sharing more photos of my progress on all of these.

Lastly, as some of you dear readers know, I recently started a new job. Although I’ve kept up on my “inside” gardening – starting seeds, repotting, etc. – my “outside” gardening has suffered. I’m facing what feels like a yard of weeds, deer-eaten hostas and shrubs, and unfertilized roses and such. Now (finally) that the weather is working in my favor, I’ll be outside, which means more posts with more photos, but fewer “words”. I’m sure you’ll understand.

I took the “winter” off. In gardening lingo, that means I took part of November through December off from gardening, to focus on holiday celebrations and such. Actually I still “gardened” if you count finding gardening related gifts for friends and family.

Recently, the first 2010 gardening catalogs arrived. Fedco Seeds. Prairie Moon Nursery. Gardens Alive! Jung Seeds & Plants. All familiar friends. All have the same format, style (same plants) year after year.

Gardening catalogs are about continuity and discovery. Dreaming and reality. The yearning to be better, more productive, more elegant or fun or vibrant, all expressed through the plants I dream about, purchase and plant.

And then, in the sweaty, mosquito afternoons of August, pulling weeds and harvesting crisp veggies, the reality of gardening, the hard work, the back aches and finger cuts. Sun burned necks and dirty toe nails.

I love it all. Many have said this, that we gardeners are an optimistic bunch. It’s true. This life balance of reality and dreaming of the future. Nuture and nature.

I’m blessed with a passion for gardening.