I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

With apologies to Thoreau, my own Faith in a Seed

Rosanne Jaekels Blakeney (my Mom, Rosie) died on World Water Day, March 22, 2010. That might seem an odd piece of trivia to share when a cherished wife, mother, and all around exemplary human has gone on to her next life, or whatever it is that we go on to, but it is appropriate in this case. World Water Day sprang from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The goal was to implement access to clean water and safe sanitation for the poorest communities around the globe by the year 2015, and to help communities find sustainable ways to manage and pay for water.

Food cannot be grown without water, communities cannot be built without water, and sanitary living conditions cannot be achieved without water. The driving forces behind World Water Day recognized that pipes, cement, and infrastructure could not do the job without engaging individual people and communities.

Rosie had no ties to World Water Day, but she believed with her whole heart in the power of the individual, the power of one spirit to make a measurable, palpable difference in the lives and fortunes of others. She never abandoned her optimistic belief in the power of one, unlike so many of us who are jaded and hardened by the realities of the working week, or the idiocy of our political squabbles, or the seeming inconsequence of a simple kindness done for another, yet unseen by any other witness. Rosie believed in the power of that one seed.

She taught me about the magic contained in a seed. On her bookshelf is a volume titled "The Seed-Starter's Handbook". It is a first edition, and proves that Rosie was 'green' long before green was cool. I remember she grew tomato plants at our first house, and at the second house had Dad build a greenhouse so she could get a head start on the food that she would grow for her family for the next several years (I found the greenhouse fascinating, although I didn't contribute to any of its activities at the time). She bought seedlings on occasion, but I think she really enjoyed it the most when she witnessed the birth of a plant that would become part of a family meal.

I purchased a copy of the second edition of the same book several years after moving away from my parents' house, and it led to my own love of bringing forth life from a seed. It's funny, I don't remember ever seeing Mom's copy of that book when I lived at home, as I'm sure I was far too busy with my own important comings and goings, and much too involved with other, more pressing pursuits. Now my greatest dream is to put up my own greenhouse and tend to emerging life, and the life it may provide or enhance for others, for the rest of my own.

It is my intent to honor Rosie's Rebirth and World Water Day every year from now on. If we only had a few more Rosies in the world, we wouldn't have to conduct United Nations Conferences on Environment and Development to ensure that the least of our brethren had access to the most basic of needs. It's time to stand up and disperse more of Rosie's seeds, I think.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rescue me

Right around the holidaze, and well into the Winter That Would Not Stop, not even for a freakin minute, and after the December snowstorm had mostly melted, guess what I found pokin' its tiny little self up through the ravaged earth? The French tarragon I forgot to dig up and bring inside in November. So it was hastily dug up right then and there, lest the garden gods snatch back its second chance at life, and it has been growing happily on the light stand since. I don't think it was more than a couple millimeters tall when I found it, and has grown several inches since then (sorry 'bout mixing the measuring standards).

Then after the February blizzards mostly melted, I went searching for the herbs that were left in the ground intentionally, as under "normal" circumstances things such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary can handle the winters here.

Sure enough, there were a few survivors, so I brought in and potted up a representative of each just in case we get nailed for a FOURTH snowstorm/blizzard/whatever before old man winter is finished with us. The rescues included thyme, oregano, lavender, and lemon balm (which nuclear fallout couldn't even kill, so I don't know why I brought any of that in). They are all recuperating in ugly little black starter pots now, and today got to spend a little more time in the sunshine, as for some unexplained reason we have had reasonable temperatures this weekend. The lemon grass on the right was actually brought in well before any snow, so it's been creeping along inside all winter, despite the occasional nibble from the cats. The lavender in the middle is pretty spindly, but should survive. I'm afraid the rosemary succumbed, so new seeds have been started.

And the basil seedlings that got started in November (inside) are actually attaining some size now, after spending two months in an applesauce cup (yes, all four of them were started in the same cup. They were getting rather snug). They are all much happier in their new (old) pot.

I usually grow Basilico 'Monstruoso' as the normal summer basil, because it really does get geenormous. This one is 'Cameo', and was developed for pot culture. Despite being compact, it is supposed to put out respectably sized and flavored leaves. So far so good. The leaves are actually big enough to do a little cooking with. The plants are 3" tall or so, after being liberated from their cruel and unusual confinement, and I'm looking forward to some pesto here very shortly. Which reminds me, the herbs that will be put out in the spring need to get started- time to rustle up some more applesauce cups.

Update 3/19/10: the basil seedlings are doing much too well in one 8" pot, and will be upgraded to at least a 12" pot very shortly.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Survey says...

We don't need no stinkin' tarp! REAL birds eat right outta the snow!

They ate off the tarp too (see the last post for backstory; the squirrels found it first), but it turned out to be completely unnecessary. And despite all the admonitions from the Wildlife spokespeeps that wildlife will hunker down in bad times, and the strong will survive, and we shouldn't skew the gene pool by feeding and supporting the 'weaker' individuals, I skewed the gene pool and bet a lot of other people did too. We skew the gene pool by feeding and supporting members of our own species during bad times, so I confess to being a very bad Darwinian.


Today it is above 50 degrees F for the first time this year, I think. Spent part of the morning scratching around in the muck that used to be the garden to find any survivors (meaning herbs). The next post will detail what got found. This afternoon will be for seed starting the veggies (late again, but at least I'm consistent).

The snow from last month's blizzards is almost gone, and if our sanity and souls didn't go with it, here's to new beginnings, all.