Sunshine and Blue Skies!

January 21, 2011

Leaving the house this morning, I see the full moon setting on the west and the rising sun red on the east. The sky is robin’s egg blue and the clouds are few.

What a great day to go to Master Gardening!

I am tinged with a scoop of guilt; I have not read the entire chapters on diagnosis and disease. With the flurry of the weekend and the scattered thinking of this week, Friday arrived before I expected it. I am also running just a little late; a client commitment early this morning.

Into the classroom just as the speaker is being introduced and I immediately see that my tardy arrival has decimated my opportunity for prime seating. Oh crud. I take a lousy seat, determined not to let THIS happen again. Oh double crud. I am right behind Autotroph Woman.

My flusteredness (is that a word?) is now increasing; we are not learning about diagnosis and disease today. It seems this is the vegetable and fruit session. Really? What the heck? I consult the reading list and see it’s in chapter order. I consult the syllabus and see that it is not. Really? It’s like having two different filing systems in an office!

I take a breath, try to shake off the apprehension from being now completely unprepared, tie my shoes (with double socks today) – I had to change from business Rebecca to MG Rebecca in the bathroom – and find the chapter on vegetables.

Russ, our vegetable and fruit expert, has just a bit of a country twang – hardly noticeable, but jusssstt there. He is funny and warm and obviously has a great deal of respect and comradery with Nancy the coordinator. They banter about habits and obsessions. Russ shares that he is on a eternal mission to grow man-sized pumpkins. He had success his first year, he says, and then never again, so he continues to chase that elusive dream. (Ah! In your grasp and then gone – where? how? WHY – oh dear god, WHY?)

Soon, I am adjusted to the “surprise” in topic and the funky seat (well, almost). I’m also feeling halfway intelligent again, as I seem to be familiar with vegetable growing. My experiments and experiences this summer taught me the vast majority of this material. We learn about planning a plot (raised beds are preferred – point for me!). We learn about amending soil (lots of organic matter, consider lasagna composting – ding!). We learn about setting seedlings started inside (not me, wasn’t educated enough last spring) and planting purchased plants (oh, that’s me, alright). I learn my veggie garden is not too small, as I had feared, but that the average garden is about 900 square feet (wow – that is 30′ x 30′ – a darn big garden!).

Only 25% of vegetable garden do it organically – astonishing. I thought that would be much higher. Ellen the Compost Zealot has not gotten to everyone yet.

I learn you can grow eggplant in Zone 5 (definitely trying that this year). Ah, oops. Slowly, I realize I’m getting a need-to-have frenzy, much like the feeling I get when poring over those mail order catalogs. I think about who will actually eat eggplant in my house – and then decide I need it anyway. I can only control that urge so much.

Bramble fruits are discussed; gooseberries (I think of Snow White and her pie for Grumpy), raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Nancy mentions how the blueberries need for acidic soil can be solved by sinking a container of appropriately pHed soil into the ground. That way, you’re not affecting a whole plot of earth and when you want to lose the blueberries, you can easily lose the soil. I start thinking of where I could sink those. And guess what? Those espalier apple trees are discussed and pruning methods for grapes on an espalier are explained. (Is this a sign from the garden gods that I’m supposed to plant grapes this year?) Russ makes a comment about how it’s good to have a large woody and I have to put my head down to keep from laughing.

The double socks, t-shirt and heavy sweater are still not enough. I will bring foot warmers next week, wear a turtleneck, a sweatshirt and a hat. I get my scarf and wrap it around my neck. It doesn’t really help.

We leave about an hour early today – this is not as complicated as botany – and the sky is cerulean, steel, ultramarine, cotton candied with wisps of cirrus clouds. Even though it is brutally, dangerously cold, I pull on my plaid hat and head outside. The afternoon sun slants across the garden. The snowflakes mottle the ice on the pond, with pin oak leaf bonuses frozen in place. A single coneflower seed juts from a seed head, holding on for dear life, afraid of the unknown. The mums are straw, the clematis tiny white feathers, competing with that snow powder. I see clearly on an accidental Christmas tree where the brown needles line the inner trunk. My fingers in their thermal gloves get colder and colder, until I can’t feel the tips anymore. I think this means I have had enough. I think about all the things I can plant in the spring – and all the things I learned from last summer.

I really like what Russ said, “I don’t have failures. I have things I won’t do again.”

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