Saturday, January 24, 2015

Gardening with Art (my Uncle Art, that is!)

My Uncle Art and I have a tradition: every January we meet one weekend morning, drink coffee, eat pastries, and pore over our new seed catalogs together. Some years we plan our gardens together, and split the costs of seeds. Other years we veer off course, each going our own way in our garden planning. This year is going to be one of those years. 

Last Sunday, I braved the icy cold Michigan weather, stopped for a Cafe Mocha from Tim Hortons, a current addiction, and while I was at it, picked up a few doughnuts too, including my favorite, the chocolate dip. I had my few catalogs of choice with me, and when I arrived, my uncle was waiting for me at the dining room table surrounded by his lists and catalogs. My aunt was just pulling her homemade scones from the oven , and the tea kettle was rattling away on the stove top. There is nothing like a cozy morning, thinking about spring and budding plants and sunshine, when the sky is gray and snow is piled up on the ground outside.You almost feel like you are getting away with something, by skipping the gray and daydreaming of bright arrays of colors and fresh warm fruit and veggies from your garden.

I had two catalogs with me- one from Botanical Interests, another from Baker Seeds, which is full of rare heirloom seeds. I love to sit and flip through this one, and can look at it for hours really- it is so full of old varieties that are weird and so different than what I usually see, plus the descriptions are pretty amazing too. This year though, I am doing a scaled back garden. I am due in April and don't foresee having a huge amount of time to spend in the garden this year. I chose to limit what I am ordering, and am going strictly with my choices from Botanical Interests this year. I am a bit of a nutter about GMOs, and that is one reason I like this company as well - no GMOs. Plus, they have a ton of heirloom varieties, which thrills the historian in me. I think it is pretty cool to grow something that has been around for generations!

Doesn't this just scream spring?

After a good bit of discussion with my uncle, who grew up on a farm in Canada and has a humongous garden which is even more awesome when you realize he is 70 plus years old, I decided on: a trellis of sugar snap peas and lima beans, a favorite of my husband's; a bed of strawberries, because there is seriously nothing better than eating a freshly picked strawberry, warm from the summer sun; a huge bed of free ranging herbs; and my favorite of all, a very small pumpkin patch! I am going for two varieties, one that is good for Jack O'Lanterns and another all white kind of pumpkin. I just think it would be such a fun photo op for our son! He will be only 6 months old in October, so I am not sure if he will be able to sit up or not, but if not, we will still carve his first pumpkin for him from our garden. Plus we can take his picture anyway, with one of us holding him, or even all three of us in our modest pumpkin patch. I am pretty excited about all this can you tell? 

My uncle is doing a giant garden again this year, and soon we will be getting together to start our seeds. I love this tradition with my uncle. I am the only one thus far who shares his love of the dirt and the satisfaction of eating something you have grown yourself. Maybe this is something my son will enjoy one day as well. Our catalog planning session is a day I look forward to all year, especially once winter sets in when we are bundled against the cold and dreaming of the spring . 

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