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Amanda's Garden Agenda

 Amanda's Garden 

 Words to guide, inspire and entertain  

 

Frost Date

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

My brother-in-sin gardener said to me the other day, "I found out the frost date. It’s April 7th."

Interactive Plant, Tree and Gardening Maps

(click the link above and enter your own zipcode to see your local average last frost dates)

His eyes took on a positively feral gleam when he said this, although nobody would know he was a green vampire unless you trapped him about plants and planting. He’s the fellow with the 7’ okra…

For those of you who are not possessed by Old Split foot when it comes to gardening, frost date is sort of the bellwether for when one might start planting if one were nonchalant. In fact, why not just plant? We could buy hardy things that resist cold and damp, right?

Anyway, Gary already has seeds that he’s started, from Lambreth's seed company. Apparently some of these are rarities; we are sharing some odd kale varieties to be sown in with some lettuces for early spring eating.

I, a lazy impatient gardener, am one for plants that I can put in all ready to produce. I think of all seed planting as being carrots. You put the seeds in a shallow trench, cover them over and water them, wait till they appear, thin the tops so you can get sizeable carrots…. Etc., etc., etc.

This seems like way too much work. Tapping my foot, I am.

But he explained to me about ‘broadcasting’. This, by the way, is where they got the TV term. One takes one’s talented hand and, artfully flinging seeds into soil, rakes lightly, and walks off. Apparently you can also do this close-cropped in a pot (my ears prick like Spock); it will turn out as a mass of mixed stuff that you can pluck for salads and stir fry’s…

Well I never thought of this before, but that’s how plants grow in the wild. Nobody is thinning them as far as I know. Why am I making this like algebra instead of like soup? Soup is way better than a quadrilateral equation. Oh god, I hate math.

Well I’m going to try it. I want to see something growing out of my beds so bad that it’s starting to imbalance me.

Pale Green Lichen on Pine Tree bark 

I took a walk in a nice local park, and I got pictures of things that are already growing, budding and blooming. There was a lovely wild cherry just starting; little snowdrops; plain old daffodils alongside a very strange gnome; something shrubby that was budding out leaves (I don’t know what this plant is) the familiar pile of mulch on a tarp like the one that graces my driveway for entirely too long, sometimes into July ... and a beaver’s recent chewings.

Fuzzy Green Moss, Spring

I looked over the whole park and saw not one place that seemed good for a beaver, but that’s neither here nor there, since a beaver obviously ate part of that tree and then gave it up as a bad job. It did my heart good to see the little blossoms and leaves… and I saw a great grey heron, a woodchuck, a black sort of duck with a brown toupee, (if anybody knows what this duck is please tell me) mallards, the ubiquitous Canada goose, and a lot of folks walking dogs.

Do you know what a Shiba Inu looks like? My orange cat looks weirdly like one.

Amanda Bennett

photos: Amanda Bennett, www.bennettmassage.com

Crocus, Spring Flowers, Purple 

 

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Oranges and a Mexican Man

Saturday, February 09, 2013

In the last post I was talking about Sequoias. We were on the same trip in California, except driving back to the coast from the mountains. We had to cross Death Valley again; it was boiling hot; the AC on the poor little Mazda kept us from actually boiling too, and we drove through a very bizarre landscape:

Flat dirt, grey and dusty, the Sierras on the horizon, also grey and dusty, and patches of GREEN AND ORANGE [they were such loud colors that I had to capitalize] that hurt to look at after all that peaceful dust. Well, were in orange country, which of course on the West Coast is gigantic, and makes the Florida groves look silly. There were miles of them, all carefully watered by drip hoses, the foliage deep, deep green of magnolia leaves. And the fruit was the perfect contrast, the deep, deep orange of…well… oranges, I suppose.

California orange grove with mountains in the background

We motored through and stared and talked about how marvelous the trees were; it was like seeing a pineapple plant with the pineapple on top, not just buying a pineapple in the grocery.

Oh, but it was hot.

Suddenly we passed a small ramshackle fruit stand. Were they selling oranges? Was it worth it to turn around in that broiler of land to find out?

It was.

It was a tiny wooden building [let’s glorify it by calling it a building] with a tiny little Mexican man and a whole lot of oranges. There was a lady in front of us, a fancy person with expensive shoes, buying big, juicy oranges. She bought a lot and it came to 6 or 7 dollars. It’s hard to read the face of someone who’s been in the sun all his life, but I thought the man was not impressed with her expensive shoes.

So we are next, and I start to pick up some of the gigantic gorgeous oranges, and he slaps my hand. It wasn’t just a tap either, so I looked up and he said ‘no.’ then he pointed to some little, greeny-orange speckly oranges and said ‘better’. I like brevity in a person.

We picked up some of the littler oranges, and he said ‘no’ again, so I looked up and waited for advice. No need to get slapped twice!

He gave us a mesh bag [I think it was 3 or 5 pounds] of the orphan little oranges and held up two fingers like a peace sign. This can’t be right? Two bucks? I gave him the money and we left in the car.

Fruit tree branch loaded with beautiful ripe oranges.

Now, we were going to eat these oranges if I had to gnaw through the mesh, which I didn’t, since I carry a pocketknife everywhere, but the skins wouldn’t come free without juice exploding all over the car. What to do? We decided to try and eat them with the skins on.

The skins were sweet, soft, and pretty much melted, and if we swallowed while we chewed we got most of the juicy innards. We didn’t have any napkins, so we wiped our hands on our pants and our sticky mouths on our sleeves. It was a fabulous mess. We made yummy noises.

We ate all but 6 or those oranges on the way back to the coast. They were ambrosia; they were sublime; they are on the list of the 5 best things I’ve ever eaten.

We got back to the cottages on the cliffs, and we looked so disreputable and sticky that the owner backed away from us; we had orange pith, juice, and pulp in our hair, ears, hands, and all over our clothes.

I’ve eaten sunshine in the desert, and the only problem is, I’ll have to go back to Death Valley to have more oranges. The ones in the stores are just plain nasty.

Amanda Bennett

photos, Mountains: Rawich Liwlucksaneeyanawin www.123rf.com/profile_liewluck, Oranges: Erdin Hasdemir www.123rf.com/profile_ehasdemir

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