How about this weather, eh?
I spent all of Monday getting the garden in order. Or, I should say, beginning to get the garden in order. Digging, cleaning, ripping out dead annuals, sowing seeds… my arms, shoulders, neck, legs, knees, everything are creaky, stiff, and sore. I did not stretch before I started. To be honest, I never stretch before I start, probably because I always fail to remember that gardening is hard work.
[Aside: Some of the pain was caused by lifting heavy luggage on and off of the train 4 times on Sunday. I brought home two cases of Ball quilted canning jars from a trip over the border. When is Berardin going to start offering the nicer designs here in Canada? Am I right, my fellow canning Canadians? Enough with the ugly crest and fruit designs! I am tired of stuffing my luggage full of glass whenever I travel to the US.]
I left home very early on Friday morning to catch a train to Rochester, NY where I was speaking at the Rochester Flower Show. Tee shirt weather persisted through the weekend and I was pleased when I stepped outside on Monday morning and found that the garden had exploded into life over three days of temperatures around or above 60F.
The Iris reticulata (above) were only just showing their leaves above the soil line at this time last year. Back then they were grown indoors in a pot — the fact that they are in full bloom outside is a testament to how far ahead of schedule we are this year.
This is my garden as of this morning. As you can see it is still a mess, but I’m getting there. Compare to what it was on this day last year. p.s. Look at my scruffy muppet dog at the back. She eats EVERYTHING.
And just like that, spring is springing! I am very pleased to announce that I have been hired as a featured gardening expert as a part of HGTV’s new online garden initiative, HGTV Gardens.
In the coming months I will be writing a weekly column answering pressing and seasonally relevant garden questions sent in by readers (YOU!). The first one is dedicated to a problem we all have at this time of year: starting seeds on a windowsill. I may have a “fancy” (not really) seed starting setup AND a basement now, but for 15 years prior I crammed most of my seedlings onto old, wobbly windowsills and made due. I know how to make a windowsill work! And because I can never have enough space for seeds, I’ve found that I am still cramming the windowsills despite the “fancy” (not really) lighting setup. A bunch of alpine strawberry seedlings are growing there as I write this.
With each weekly column I hope to offer encouraging, practical and thrifty solutions, along with a few nuggets from my own experiences dealing with said problems. Since my answers are only as good as the questions I receive, I’d appreciate it if you’d head over there and offer up some questions to the HGTV team that I can write about in the coming weeks and months.
Hooray for spring!
I’ve got tomatoes on the brain these days. Last weekend I had a table at Seedy Saturday at the Brickworks here in Toronto and the highlight was trading for some new tomato varieties. I walked away with at least ten new varieties feeling like a kid in a candy shop. That giddy feeling hasn’t worn off. I love tomatoes! The hard part comes next in deciding which to grow.
Later, when I got home from the event I took stock of my total tomato seed collection and was shocked to discover that I have collected over 130 varieties. I had never bothered to count before now. No wonder I have a harder and harder time narrowing down the list that will end up in the soil each year!
Last year was my best tomato season ever. By the time the hard frost hit we had harvested 110lbs of ripe fruit (NOT including cherry or currant varieties) plus another 30 or so pounds in green tomatoes. I don’t think I grew more plants than I have in the past as there were years when I was able to split the plants up between 3 gardens, and I recall one year just under a decade back when I was able to fit 16 plants into the community garden plot, plus the same on the roof. I think the windfall came down to even better, sunnier growing conditions and a really hot summer.
I meant to post about tomatoes today, but with the weather so warm and spring-like I headed off to my friend Barry’s garden to photograph some early spring ephemerals before they are gone.
You may know fellow garden addict, writer, and general all-around badass Margaret Roach through her well-loved books, via the pages of Martha Stewart Living magazine (she was the first garden editor there), or through her superlative website, A Way to Garden. Today, I am thrilled to announce that Margaret and I are in the process of creating a marketplace of green friendly and relevant products and services that will appear on both of our sites simultaneously.
Last month marked 12 years since I launched YouGrowGirl.com. Throughout that time I have tried a variety of advertising options and platforms as a way to help support the work and out-of-pocket costs incurred in keeping the site going. Doing that without selling products, companies, or services that go against the values that I espouse has been nothing short of difficult and last year I severed the last service I was using out of frustration. Since then it has become apparent that in order to find balance and navigate the lines between my own personal integrity, the real demands of running this site, and my commitment to you to create an environment that is transparent and uncluttered with garbage, I would need to take matters into my own hands.
I have a ton of respect for Margaret and the work she does. She’s a wonderful writer and a really cool woman that I am proud to have as a friend and colleague. We are very in tune in regards to our views on gardening, green living, and the environment, so teaming up together in this way to help support each other professionally makes perfect sense. I am so thrilled to be doing this with her!
What this means:
- Small ads will appear simultaneously in the right-hand sidebar on both of our sites.
- All ads are vetted by us collectively.
- We promise to do our best to only feature products and services that we either use ourselves in our home gardens and homes and that are in keeping with our values. No Big Chemical sponsorship or unconscionable ads have ever appeared on this site, and never will.
- The revenue generated by these ads will help to cover the operating costs associated with the running of our sites and allow us to grow the content we can create and publish.