Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thinking About Slow Food...

One of my favorite places for growing herbs. It is protected from the wind by the side of the house and faces south. Herbs love it here. This is my very favorite rosemary plant that I have been able to winter through one year. I'll have to see about this year... I have it covered and protected as much as possible.

It's time to get serious about ordering seeds. This year I would like to try my hand at some heirloom varieties. There are many excellent blogs to peruse on the subject of seeds. In the meantime, I become more and more interested in Slow Food. The first time I heard this term I could not understand what it meant, (I thought it was food that takes a long time to cook?) and I still don't have a real hold on it, but am beginning to think that it has a lot to do with what I have already been doing.

I have always cooked a lot from "scratch" and with lots of fresh foods. I try to eat as few processed foods as possible but I'm afraid if truth be told I still have a ways to go. I'm not an "activist" but do try to live my life in a responsible way, thinking of the environment and my impact on the earth. Again, I have a long way to go here too, especially when I read what others are doing. Boy, do I feel guilty sometimes. However, the best I can do is to be me and do as much as I can in my own small ways. One thing that I'm proud of is that I changed to using biodegradable kitty litter instead of the heavy old clay stuff. Anyway, getting back to my point... thanks to a book about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse Restaurant, I found the Slow Food USA site. I especially was drawn to this way of thinking:

"Slow Food is also simply about taking the time to slow down and to enjoy life with family and friends. Every day can be enriched by doing something slow - making pasta from scratch one night, seductively squeezing your own orange juice from the fresh fruit, lingering over a glass of wine and a slice of cheese...") particularly the part about lingering over a glass of wine, and how I do love cheese! All this has made me excited to choose which veggies I will plant this year.

As to the book about Alice Waters, I found it VERY enjoyable reading, and quite interesting about her life and restaurant. It did, however, make me exhausted just reading about all she does and continues to do. Not to be funny, but she does have a LOT on her plate (all good, slow food, of course). She has inspired me. I plan to read her new book about simple, Slow Food and how to live that way of life. Hopefully something will rub off on me! For anyone who enjoys reading about food and interesting people I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And... Another!

Here we go again. Another day of snow and cold. It was a very frosty morning with a beautiful full moon. The average temperature for January is now 28.1 degrees. Colder than usual. I need to get my seeds ordered soon.

To add more room for veggies I'm thinking of moving the large pots to the front and filling them with vegetables.

There was a wonderful article in our local paper the other day about container plants. It was right on subject for me because I'm trying to find more room for veggies this year and have decided to try some large containers placed next to the raised beds. About the only place we have full sun in the back. It gave me some interesting ideas:

Pepper Mini Belle produces a decorative plant.

Lettuce Mini-green Improved produces tennis ball-size heads.

Balconi Red Tomato has an exceptionally sweet taste.

And this sounds nice for shade: Blazin Lime Iresine

Something to think (and dream) about!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Another Snowy Day...

The days are beginning to all look alike. Snow... snow... snow. It comes in every two days or so. Instead of complaining (well, I always do plenty of that too) I'm working on ideas for my backyard/water feature redo. I researched several of the ideas submitted in the comments and they are some good ones, especially for the shade areas. When I get more ideas I will draw out a plan. I'm thinking that Snow in Summer might be good along the dry sidewalk area. And I will need a flagstone or mulch path along the border garden so I can maintain it. I'm beginning to get excited about the prospects. After all, what's a snowy winter day for?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Help: Redo This Garden!

Here's the challenge: This area of the backyard (I call it the "Birdbath Garden"...duh) goes from hot sun near sidewalk to deep shade under the trees. I've tried many different things with this area, including taking out most of the grass and putting down wood bark mulch -- HATED that!! I've planted just about everything I could think of around the birdbath: tulips for spring, thyme for ground cover, all sorts of perennials, you name it. NOTHING does well here except for the year I surrounded the birdbath with containers of geraniums (and those don't look real great until later in the summer). I always go into this project with beautiful visions of what it will look like and every time I end the season very discouraged.

This area looks good in grass because it breaks up the various areas. But... the grass under the shade needs to be replanted several times a year, and the grass around the sidewalk dries out, no matter how much water it has. Sooooo...... what do I do? My husband is thinking of planting buffalo grass in the area. I like that idea, but you need to make sure that it is a variety that will grow in shade. As the catalogs come in I put my virtual glasses on and envision many ideas. There are nice collections of wildflower seeds. Wouldn't it look good to "naturalize" this area with buffalo grass and wildflowers? I like that idea very much. But here we go again. Most wildflowers need a lot of sun. Another idea... ground cover. Maybe I should explore that more. The problem here is that this area does get a lot of traffic from maintaining the birdbath and flower beds. In the winter it is exposed and gets lots of cold snow and wind. I have zillions of vincas that we inherited next to the fence and I'm tired of them. They are also difficult to walk among without tripping.

How about a nice big water feature that would replace the birdbath (although I need to keep the heated part for the winter)? Don't think we have the energy or money to do that, but maybe I could do it on a smaller scale. I could place some rocks around the birdbath and build up around them? But we are finally making progress in removing tons of red rocks that used to cover this area, making it difficult to plant in areas. What to do? Right now I'm lost. But that's what winter is about, right? Dreaming and making plans. So, I'll be looking at more catalogs and doing some more planning, and I hope to come up with a solution that will work. Back to the drawing board!
If anyone reading this blog has any ideas, please let me know.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Now...this is more like it!

Notice the footprints? The early morning visitor is our resident fox who walks the same route through our property every day. Here he is on his way back. When he first arrives in the morning he has diagonal tracks across the grass.

This is more like a beautiful Colorado winter day! A fresh snow fall last night and dazzling sunshine today. Terribly cold though! I suppose we will get as tired of looking at winter snow pictures as we did coneflowers in the summer??

Monday, January 7, 2008

Getting Started....Kinda

I love the shape of this little sage

The Ringed-Neck doves were busy at the feeder this morning. Too bad I have to photograph them from far away and through the window, but they are pretty spooky.

Finally, a week not interrupted by a holiday. Time to get settled in for the winter and start accomplishing some things, right? I thought I'd have much more energy for it than I do today, but ya gotta get started somewhere. A walk outside for some inspiration, that's what I needed. Not much there. Brrrr... it is cold. As you can see from this photo there is a storm coming in:

Nature's birdhouse. Many little birds take shelter in the "poodle" trees. A good use for them!
At least this winter (so far) has not been as bad as last year, and for that I'm very thankful. This time last year we were still getting stuck in the drift in from of our house.
I've started a list of things I want to accomplish this year. But the top chore is to reorganize all of my gardening publications, books, journals, calendars, etc. Now that I am retired I can devote more room in my office to my gardening passions. First, I need to clean out 20 years of stuff accumulated during my stint as a freelance graphic designer. And that is going to be quite a job. Old client files, artwork, books, supplies, you name it. I have been trying to do a little each day so that it doesn't feel so daunting, but it is slow going. Meantime, awaiting are four years of plant tags, piles of books and gardening publications, and a new software program to keep track of it all, which I am using as incentive to get this done. I can hardly wait to get started on that (okay, I see a theme here!)
Speaking of work, I still do have one client: our local Humane Society. I work on their website and I just love it. I love doing things for animals and working with people who love them. With that in mind, I think I'll stop now and get caught up with their work so I can get started on with mine!