With the hope for spring holding my winter-beaten spirit together, I’ve got organization on the brain. I recently purchased these extra-fancy file folders with a botanical/woodgrain design under the delusion that having pretty folders to look at everyday would inspire hyper-organization of my desk space. A pack of six folders cost $9 CDN which is pretty outrageous when you think about it — “thinking” being an activity I tried not to do as I forked out the cash.
On the flip-side I did refile everything, shredding a stack of old, useless papers and eliminating the ever-present pile o’ crap in the process, so we’ll see how it goes.
1. Brown “Jasmin” Ring – $9.00 While these botanically-inspired rings from The Carrotbox have no use in the garden, they are both durable and affordable enough to leave on while gardening.
2. Pot Brush – $29.00 Nothing says romance like a fancy natural bristle brush that makes washing grimy pots easy work. No really! This is one of those tools I would never buy myself but would REALLY appreciate come spring and fall when faced with an ungodly stack of dirty containers to scrub.
3. Strange Doll Head Planters – $29.00 I added the “strange” to the title of this trio of three ceramic planters. I’m not sure if they are re-purposed doll heads or made to look like vintage doll heads. Whatever the case may be they’re certainly unique, although fairly creepy (but in a good way) and would look great with a small ‘Pork n’ Beans’ succulent trailing over the top. I do not suggest this gift for loved ones who has nightmares about doll heads. Save it for Halloween instead.
4. Self-watering Planter – $27.50 Spend less time watering or worrying about watering and more time with your loved ones with this container that does most of the work for you.
5. Spring Fed Melamine Plate Set – $56.00 This set of four floral plates sure are pretty, and the best part is that they are made of super-durable melamine which means you can actually use them outdoors in the garden without risking a small heart attack when small children and/or friends are less-than-delicate with them.
6. Red Hot Egg Planter – $95.00 Wowzers these hanging planters are expensive but since we’re talking gifts here I am guessing that there may be someone out there willing and able to spend this kind of dough on their valentine… I’m guessing that “someone” does not share a joint bank account with me. Regardless, these gorgeous planters are worth every penny. They are handcrafted and include a stainless steel hanger. The feature that most makes me love them are the drainage holes in the bottom! THANK YOU. Hallelujah! Nothing renders a hanging container nearly useless as an actual container for growing like a lack of drainage.
7. Anne Black “Seam” Porcelain Vase – $100 A simple and elegant hand thrown vase to hold flowers and stems cut from your garden. The one with the little dots circling the circumference reminds me of a dress pattern.
Who doesn’t love a good mail day? You know, the kind with items in the mailbox that aren’t bills or the junk coupons and flyers that keep showing up despite the careful note explaining that, “Seriously. For real. We REALLY don’t want that crap delivered to our door.”
I received seed catalogues from two companies that are new to me, “Terra Edibles” and “Bountiful Gardens.” Sorry but no recommendations as-of-yet. I have already indulged in some light browsing but without the aid of a pen or highlighter I am blanking on the plants that jumped out at me.
Neither catalogue has photos which can be a bit of a pain for those like myself who are visually oriented, however newsprint catalogues are probably better for the environment. And I understand that many very good seed companies are also very small and do not have the budget to do fancy full-colour photo catalogues. As an aside, I was extra impressed by Bountiful Gardens who mailed my catalogue in a previously used envelope and included a hand signed thank you on the order form. I always try to do this on the orders I send out to customers as a way to let them know a human packed their order with care, so it was interesting to find myself on the other side and feeling impressed by it. Turns out it does make a difference.
The final and most exciting portion of my mail haul is the book, “The One Straw Revolution” by Masanobu Fukuoka. I have been trying to acquire all of his books for a while now but they all seem to be out of print and are often listed used at insane prices. When I saw this used copy reasonably priced at $10 US I jumped on it. This book is an introduction to his “do-nothing” farming philosophy and practice as well as a memoir-of-sorts describing how he formed his ideas and techniques. I can’t wait to get down to reading it.
The book I really want is The Natural Way of Farming but it often starts at $100. GAH!
The first seed catalogues of 2008, Richters Herbs and West Coast Seeds (in that order), recently arrived in my mailbox, a sure sign that spring is just around the corner even if the outdoor temperatures say otherwise.
I’m going to admit here that while I have the words, “Start to plan this year’s gardens” jotted down for Wed. January 2008 as a reminder in my day planner, I haven’t actually started much of anything. Okay who am I kidding? I haven’t started anything period. Nothing is started. I did a bit in the fall when my hand was forced by the Great Canadian Garlic Collection but nothing has happened since. The fact that I had to write it down as a reminder at all is a sure sign that I am either busy (which I am) or that my personal garden style, which tends more towards whim and fancy doesn’t lend itself to hardcore planning. It’s not that I don’t plan, it’s just that I make “plans” that are always amenable to last minute changes. While I am great at “selling” others on a leftover seedling that I’ve got to get rid of, I am also easily persuaded by the seeds and seedlings of others. Come planting season for every plant I get rid of, there are an equal number of unplanned additions that are welcomed into the fold for one reason or another.
My gardens are small and limited by any number of factors (i.e. light, location) which means that one or two unaccounted plants can throw even the most flexible arrangement out the window. As an example: I don’t like eggplant. In fact eggplant makes my mouth itch, but I have been persuaded to grow another gardener’s leftover eggplant seedling/s on more than one occasion.
But not this year! This year I am going hardcore on the planning. Don’t even try to stop me. I am unstoppable. I am an undeviating, relentless machine for planning. Once I get started. Which I haven’t.
So of course, like every year, as the catalogues arrive on my doorstep I am circling everything with a fervor knowing full well that I will never find the space for my wishlist. I haven’t made any purchases so far but here’s what I have found of interest in the first two catalogues.
Just a note to state that neither of these companies are paying me to write about them. If that ever were to happen I would indicate as such.
From Richters Herbs
- Medinette Basil – It is no secret that I love basil and am always on the lookout for varieties to try. This one is touted as a compact basil with leaves that are larger than your typical bush basil. Sounds good to me.
- Calypso Orange Calendula (Calendula officinalis ‘Calypso Orange’) – I particularly love calendula in my community garden plot because it is beautiful and long-blooming, self-seeding in the garden, the flowers and leaves are edible, it has great skin-healing properties, and it grows well as a companion alongside other less attractive food plants. The calendula always seems to invite all kinds of spiders and beneficial insects into the garden and I rarely leave a visit to my plot without taking home a handful of fresh blooms to put in a vase or dry. Richters is promoting this variety as particularly medicinally potent variety with dark centres that make it worth trying for the beautifying factor.
- Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) – Tastes like a mild garlic but it not a garlic at all but an amaryllis. I am particularly sold on the pretty flowers that are said to bloom throughout the summer.
- Afrodite Parsley (Petroselinum crispum crispum) – Although parsley has a special place in my heart as the first plant I ever grew, I have to admit that I don’t particularly like to grow it and pretty much haven’t since the early 90s. But I’ve been thinking this is the year to pick it up again and this curly variety described as looking like “lush moss” might have me sold.
From West Coast Seeds
- Orca Beans – Okay let’s face facts here: I have such a backlog of beans waiting in cue to be grown in my gardens that there is no way these are going to make it anytime soon. The catalogue states this type is “fun for kids” but as a gardener who gets excited about pretty beans I have to say these are fun all around. So pretty! And an heirloom to boot. And you know me, give me a good back story and I’m sold.
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli (Brassica oleraceae) – This cold-hardy, spring sprouting biennial sounds fascinating but my guess is that it’s not really suitable for my climate. I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried it.
- ‘Atomic Red’ Carrot (Daucus carota) – I’m pretty partial to ‘Purple Haze’ but this bright red carrot sure is hard to resist.
- ‘Black Spanish Round’ Radish (Raphanus sativus) – Now that I have mastered the radish it is time to branch out into new terrain.
I know that time is getting tight now as the Holiday Season kicks into gear but I wanted to be sure and mention some gifts to make if you’re coming up dry on ideas for the gardener friend in your life. A lot of these ideas use materials harvested from your own garden but I have found that in a pinch the herbs can be purchased at affordable prices from the bulk bins of local health food stores.