Tuesday, November 25, 2008

garden: still chugging along

Because I am a very, very, extraordinarily lazy gardener, I just got around to bringing my pots and things in the garage today. This is something I really should have done a month ago, since almost everything out there was long since dead.

Yeah, I said "almost":
I tossed some parsley seeds in my pot of dill last spring. The dill is long gone, but the parsley keeps on trucking.

But I was more impressed by this:
Broccoli buds.

I didn't bring in the broccoli with my original group, because it looked pretty scraggly, and at that point in time the buds were tiny (popcorn kernel sized) to nonexistent, so it didn't seem worth it. Now some of the buds are as wide as a quarter--and this growth occurred since the beginning of October. During which time the temperature has dipped down to the teens (possibly the single digits) and we've gotten a few dustings of snow. The air temp was about 30F when I was outside today, and the soil in the pot was frozen solid. But the broccoli leaves and buds were still green and pliable.

I figured the reason that they never did much this summer was because I planted them too late, and the heat of summer came too quickly for them. Most cruciferous veggies prefer cooler weather. "Below freezing" is pushing it a bit, though.

So, since they were not only still alive, but putting out flower buds, then of course I have to bring them inside. So the indoor winter garden experiment continues.

Friday, November 21, 2008

accidental science

When I brought my geraniums in from the outside to try to overwinter them, the flowers looked like this, bright pink and deeply saturated. I originally had them out on the indoor landing outside the apartment where there is a west facing window, but then decided that I wanted to bring them inside the apartment so that I could enjoy the flowers more, not just say hello when I was coming or going. At first I put them in my studio, which has windows on the north and east and gets a lot of indirect light but practically no direct light. Then, when the next batch of flowers blossomed, they looked like this:

Pure, bright white at the edges, and pink only in the center. All the flowers that have bloomed since I brought the plant in the apartment are like this. So, when geraniums are denied light, the flowers lose their color. I had no idea this happened. This feels like seventh grade science fair all over again.

Now the geranium are in a south facing window, in the sunniest place in the house. Stay tuned for what kind of flowers I get.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

luxury or necessity?

There was an article in the paper on Sunday about voluntary simplicity, and one of the sidebars was a list of gadgets and experiences and frivolities, things like "television" or "health club membership" or "strawberries in December," with the newspaper asking the reader how many of these things they would be willing to do without. There was a related poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 1996 and 2006 asking how many things like this people considered luxuries and how many were necessities. In the two surveys, every single item became more of a perceived necessity except one—owning a car. In 1996 93% said that a car was a necessity, and in 2006 it had dropped to 91%.

Both those figures are still depressingly high, but it's encouraging to see that the percentage dropped a little bit, because that means an additional 2% of the population is sick of waging wars for oil and the unhealthy, unsustainable infrastructure that comes with everyone driving cars. There is, perhaps, a small amount of hope.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

late season flowers

Every year I try to keep an eye out to see which flowers are the last to go before winter hits for good, and even though it is now the second week of November and we are getting our first real snow today, it's not even close to the end of flower season. The bergamot in the yard still has a few frail wisps of color, and on my walk to/from the bus stops this morning (a total of about 4 blocks), I saw white sweet clover, red clover, tansy, tansy ragwort, European bellflower, dandelion, sow thistle, cress, and evening primrose, and I'm quite sure that there's lots more out there.

Depending on the weather, I've seen some flowers (sweet clovers, tansy ragwort, and once liatris) hang on until early December, and I've seen dandelions as early as mid-March. And of course, pussy willow catkins are technically flowers, too, and they'll start coming out in late February sometimes. Even up here in the frozen north, we only have about a 10-14 week period with no flowers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


In America, today is election day. And of course you all know I'm going to tell you to go vote for Obama, so I'm not going to bother typing out all the reasons why.

Instead, I'm going to focus on this: if you are in Minnesota, please vote yes on the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. This amendment will raise the sales tax by 3/8 of one percent (about thirty cents on an $80 purchase) and will generate about $300 million a year for protecting our water, preserving habitat, creating and maintaining parks and trails, and promoting the arts and our cultural heritage. This proposed amendment gives us a unique opportunity to fund programs that are sorely in need of more money, build a legacy for years to come, and continue to make Minnesota a place worth living in and loving. Not voting will count as voting "no," so please go vote, and vote yes.