Saturday, September 10, 2011

So much for the preparations for winter, whew, we've had a heat wave this past week. My word! Temperatures in the 30C/102F range, heat wave.

After the week priors freezing and this heat wave, my garden is pretty much decimated. Ugh. Fortunately, the gladiolus are still blooming and are suprising me at their resilience. They are blooming places that I wasn't certain if they would get enough sunshine to survive, little alone bloom.

But that is much like life.

I've had a really tough time with APS this past week or so....I can't sleep for the pain and it makes it hard to manage anything little alone a garden.  I also homeschool my children and so it is a delicate balance between my bodys' need for rest and their need for stimulation.

Much like those gladiola corms I planted....I knew where I was putting them was a tough area for growth. A lot of shade, only a couple of inches of growing room, poor clay soil and only the western sun from 2:00 pm on.  But I did what I could do to mitigate the challenges of the area. I improved the soil and drainage. I stapled trellis netting to the landscaping shored up railway ties, and kept the area free of weeds.

Now one might question "why would you plant those corms in an area that had so many challenges" but my thought process was that if weeds could grow and flourish, why couldn't a cultivated flower?

Much like my choice to homeschool....(be forwarned if you publically school your children).  Why would I choose to homeschool knowing that my body has so many challenges to overcome?

We live in a horrible school district with unwaivering administration and teachers that blindly follow and blame the administration for their short-falls.  Unfortunately, I know first hand as my husbands' mother, sister and aunt are all teacher for the public school system and there is never a shortage of their bitching and complaining, self deflecting behavior and refusal to take responsibility for anything conversations at family get togethers that over the years I've been able to watch on the outside what the inside mechanations of the education system of this town look like. Holy run on sentence.

And like that poor, unimproved planting sight, weeds have flourished in this school district.  And if weeds can flourish in this district, why can't children of a cultivated education flourish in this area?  I know what the challenges of my planting site are....

  • solid clay soil aka unweilding public school
  • little growing room aka large class sizes and little opportunity for individualism
  • very shady aka "the other" influences
  • little and late afternoon sun aka little enlightenment from the adults entrenched in a negligent atmosphere.

So I did what any good gardener does with a challenging spot.  I enriched my basic foundation, prepared the material, selected the best and healthiest specimens to plant, and continue to nurture their minds to fruition.

But this past week was a tough, tough week. And I was questioning my "planting spot", wondering if I was holding my children back by homeschooling from my bed.

So I prayed. I read scripture. I prayed some more and still wasn't getting any direction.

Then I reached out to my friend, Mary Siever, to see if she knew of any homeschoolers with terminal/chronic illnesses or if a support group existed because I was starting to think that maybe enrolling my children into public school. Wow, I must have been having a bad day.

She was so very kind and accomodating and immediately put the word out.  On one of the pages, I noticed some homeschooling links and clicked on called Hip Homeschooling Moms and browsed through the pages. It looked interesting so I joined. After a bit more browsing, I happened across a page called the question of the week.

Oh boy, the Lord sent me to this page and right then I knew what the answer to my prayers were. Here is the question of the week and the responses. My word, I knew I was in the correct place when Kelli from  Adventurez in Child Rearing responded to my post and UNDERSTOOD exactly my physical limitations. Tears rolled down my face as I felt so blessed that the Lord had lead me to this place "accidentally" and I knew definitively that we have made the right choice.

So I will continue to cultivate in difficult places and grow surprising results. But then again, anything is possible through the Lord.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's official. We've had frost.

I had my suspicions but it was confirmed as soon as I went outside and saw the Impatients all curled up and brown. We had frost.

A quick tour of the garden told me the harsh reality. Oh dear.

So now it's about saving what can be saved for seeds and pulling/mulching what can't be. Le sigh. It is a tough time of year for flower gardeners. You try to keep the momentum up by bringing in what you can and overwintering, digging up and drying out corms, preparing the ground for next spring and peaking at catalogues while you plan, but honestly, it is a bit depressing.

I remember my huge vegetable gardens of past and the seemingly endless bountys that needed to be processed, canned and frozen. It wasn't until mid-October that carrots and potatos were being laid in a cold cellar and the canning had been finished.

This year we planned a huge garden as well but the collosal flooding in our region, negated any thoughts we had of planting a garden.  Literally, we have a half dozen little, green tomatoes. Hardly, the bountiful harvest we anticipated.

The beautiful glads keep flowering and are never a disappointment. As a bit of the culinary connisseur (it was rumored) and I have come by a recipe for stuffed gladiola  recipe here that looks intriguing.  However, preservation for the long winter months evades my flower garden capabilities.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Flower Power

My first green gladiola. Absolutely breathtaking.

My beautiful bouquet on any given day <3
No, this isn't a flash back to the "make love, not war" mantra of the 60's although I have no issue with that concept.  Rather, this is a recognition of the impact that gardens and flowers have upon our lives.

I've always appreciated the beauty of flowers but this year has been exceptional as I was diagnosed with Antiphospholipid Syndrome after nearly 7 years of hell. Anyone who has gone through a similar process can appreciate my sentiments.

As a result of many ischemic strokes, I have hemiparalysis on the right side of my body.  Some days, I am functional, other days, particularly when my estrogen levels are high and I get numerous clots in my liver, kidneys, large and small intestines, heart, lungs and brain, I can barely move.

I have set up at my bedside a wonderful aquarium with beautiful fish that set my mind at peace. I also have my Bible that I can read for inspiration to get through the day and the laptop, if I am able to sit upright, I am able to plan lessons for my homeschooling children.

Since the onset of summer, though, I have a wonderful addition to my bedroom. Fresh cut Gladiolus. Oh my, what a wonderful inspiration and beauty to gaze upon. These arrangements are stunning and bring some of the beauty of my garden indoors, as pictured.

A fellow gardening enthusiast, has had her breast cancer come back. I always worry because when cancer comes back the second time, it usually comes back with a vengence.

So, I brought a bouquet up to her at her hospital room and made sure I chose a beautiful array of colors.  Unbenouced to me, gladiolus are her favorite flowers and it was such a stark contrast how those beautiful flowers stood out in that miserable hospital room. It left me thinking about the impact and role that flowers play in our lives.

Weddings, funerals, births, well wishes, the plevy of contexts that flowers play a pivotal role in our lives. And I think it's because of the viseral reaction that flowers invoke. The myriad of colors, the ruffle of shapes, the fresh, crisp newness that reminds us how they are borne from the earth.

I suppose, it also reminds us how fleeting life can be.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Soil by any other name is not dirt.

By profession, I am a toxicologist, specializing in soils. First I was an soils scientist and then specialized in toxicological issues with soils.  So, at the root of it all, soil is my first passion.

First off, soil is not dirt. Soil is a living, breathing organic matter. Dirt is something you get under your nails. There are many components to soil; organic matter, color, composition, pH, etc. Dirt is what causes the stains in the knees of freshly washed pants.

Soil is what grows the bounty of our planet. Dirt is what is tracked in the house on the souls of shoes.

If you are going to successfully garden, you must have an understanding of soil. Sure you can throw seeds into the ground and grow a garden. It may even be a great garden. But if you keep managing your soil without an understanding of soils' needs, it will only be a couple of years before you have depleted the soil of the essential nutrients needed to maintain a healthy balance within your soil.

Microscopically, the soil is teeming with beneficial bacteria.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

And the Bees have it!

All summer, we have been watching the bumble-bees in our garden.

"This is good" I told myself feeling a little proud that we were helping the local honeybee populations. 

Even better when we noticed that they were tucking into a hole underneath our deck.  "Mmmmm, maybe we will be able to see the cycle of the hive" my homeschooling side thought.  My culinary side was tickled with temptation of fresh honey made from our garden.

I am officially no longer curious. 

I got stung 3 times today while watering my plants, nowhere near the hive.  First off, I only thought a bumble bee could sting once (the three welts on my forearm attest otherwise) and two, I am highly allergic to bee/wasp stings, like anaphalytic shock, allergic. 

So I gulped two claritin and am praying for the best.  My reaction is called "delayed anaphylaxis" meaning that I don't react immediately but within 72 hrs to one week. So now we sit and wait. Ugh. My sambuterol is on the bedside dresser "just in case" and we have done a drug interaction test on all the medications I am on, just to be careful.  But the sitting and waiting to explode is a bit unnerving.

On a lighter note, I cut some more wonderful glads from the garden to liven up our bedroom.  Gosh, they really are beautiful flower and are a stately testament to the impact of cut flowers. We discovered some interesting seed pods ? growing where the mature flowers had been deadheaded and wonder if this is another means of propogation.  Only one way to find out.

Although the weather is warm right now, the garden is in its' downward spiral and the preparation work for the winter must commence.  Tomorrow, I will talk about soil and its' importance, particularly looking at its' ability to overwinter and the need to condition it prior to the first frost.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The dreaded thought....overwintering.

The grass isn't growing anymore. The nights are hovering around the freezing mark.  Soon that furnace will be kicking in because that dreaded time is upon us....overwintering.

For many gardeners, this time of year is about reaping the rewards of all your hard work. For those without vegetable gardens, it is about deheading perennials and pulling bulbs that need to be replanted for next spring.  For us thrifty gardeners, it is about doing all, plus chosing which plants that we can over-winter sucessfully.

Earlier this year, I bought some organic heirloom seeds off of ebay and slowly, due to the unprecedented amounts of precipitation, but surely we now have sweet basil and rosemary.  Well be darned if I am going to have those dry up and replant next spring. So, yesterday I thinned and repotted the plants to bring them inside for the winter.


The rosemary plants, all THREE of them, that made it out of 100 seeds. I transplanted them into larger pots for overwintering.  Fortunately, we have some grow (UVA/UVB) lights as we also have several reptiles and amphibians.  To put things in perspective about our growing season, my tallest rosemary plant. is a massive 2 inches tall!

Makes me wonder why I don't buy my herbs as plants.

3rd Place my first time and 1st for the Children.

Well, shucky darn. We won third place in the Beautiful Gardens's contest for our small town.  And even more wonderful, our lovely children won First Place for their contribution to our garden, the gladiolus.

Quite honestly, I believe it was the gladiolus that put us over the top in the judges ranking as we have been the only ones in town to sucessfully grow Glads. Our secret is not really so secret. Start them early and then transplant them after the soil is warm.

For next year, I am already scouring online catalogues for large showy Glads as I plan to start and plant over 200 up from our 75 this year.  Dependant upon how the cormlets have grown, we may have upwards over 300 glads for next summer. Wouldn't that be lovely?