Categories: life » gardening

RSS - Atom - Subscribe via email

Thinking of autumn

| gardening, life

A former teacher of mine asked me, “If you were a season, what would you be, and why?” I thought about it because I wanted to dig beyond the trite answers that tempted me: summer for sun, spring for new beginnings.

If I were to pick a season, it would be autumn – and not because of the breeze or the brilliant colours. (Isn’t it funny that the colours are always there in the leaves, but the green must die to let the other colours show?)

I’d choose it for harvest, celebration, preparation, and the ever-present awareness of winter.

If life is a year of seasons, it might be strange that I often think of winter, and of other years I’ll never see. That’s why it’s good to do the work now: to save the seeds from what’s working well, to plan and prepare the soil so that next year’s beds can bear more fruit.

The harvest is abundant, although it might not much resemble the plans from spring. Save some for the long winter – stored sunshine and water and nutrients in a variety of forms.

There may even be just enough time to sneak in one more cool-weather crop of lettuce, which frost makes sweeter. Who knows? Start it anyway.

And then, when winter embraces the garden, let go. You have done your work. Underneath the blanket of stillness is a future you can influence but not predict.

View or add comments

Backyard trades

Posted: - Modified: | canada, gardening, life

We live in a semi-detached house and often chat with our immediate neighbors, Dan and Jen. Their kids sometimes come over to play with J
-. When we make jams or jelly, we share it with them, and they share other interesting things with us.

Dan recently bought a smoker because he was pining for the briskets of his Texan youth. He made pulled pork recently, and he brought over some for us. We sprinkled it on pizzas, sandwiches, and other yummy treats. When we finished it, I washed the container and filled it with freshly-picked jalapeno peppers from our garden. (We have too many to eat, and not enough to make jelly.)

It’s nice getting along with your neighbors, particularly when there’s food involved. =)

2010-08-21 Sat 10:13

View or add comments

Garden riches

| gardening

One of the first things J- did when she woke up this morning was to pick fresh vegetables from the garden. She came in with a bowl of sugar peas, green beans, and cherry tomatoes, all plump and perfect.

The tomatoes have hit their stride and are ripening at a rate of 3-4 tomatoes or so a day, which is just right for snacking. The peas are starting to wind down, and it’s about time to start a second crop. I should harvest the cilantro seeds and start those again, too. Some volunteer zucchini has snuck into my garden by way of the compost.

Pesto is on my cooking plan this weekend: different kinds of basil, garlic scapes, mmm…

Ah, the garden. Have kings and queens ever eaten as well as this?

View or add comments

The fruits and chairs of our labour

Posted: - Modified: | gardening

W- and I have graduated to making furniture. =)

From Starred Photos

He finished his chair this weekend. It’s awesome! I’m working on a chair of my own (below):

From Starred Photos

In other news, gardening rocks.

From Starred Photos
View or add comments

Weekly review: Week ending June 13, 2010

Posted: - Modified: | gardening, weekly
From Starred Photos

This weekend, I finished my finger joint jig (my very first!), bought my own workbench (a Black & Decker WorkMate 425), and made my finger-jointed box sides. Whee! It was a lot of fun working on the deck with W- and J-, routing my box while W- sawed the pieces for his chair and J- collected sawdust. Progress! I think we might be getting the hang of this.

I did a lot of gardening, too. I turned the compost twice, and it’s getting close to the right texture. Next weekend, I think I’ll build a sifter and shake out the twigs so that I can use the compost to feed the strawberries, tomatoes, and peas, all of which are doing quite well. I revamped the back planter box and planted some more lettuce, and I planted jalapeno peppers along the path. Gardening is a great way to get more greens into our diet, and I’m looking forward to more harvests. Next time, I’ll be more consistent with succession planting. Just because you’re swimming in lettuce one week doesn’t mean you can skip planting the lettuce you’ll harvest in a few weeks’ time. =)

From last week’s plans:


  • [  ] Update Idea Lab guide
  • [X] Give talk on Idea Labs
  • Added more Smarter Planet experts to my list
  • Gave students advice
  • Worked on Lotus Connections Java library, stuck on multipart/related PUT
  • Helped HR person with mail merge


  • [  ] Check out more photographers
  • [  ] Catch up with Maira Bay de Souza and Leigh Honeywell at
  • [X] Finish box joint jig
  • [X] Make box-jointed box
  • [  ] Finish influence map stories
  • Set up my own work bench
  • Went to science fair, yay!
  • Attended U of T lab potluck
  • Lent J- shoes (she’s growing up so fast!)


  • [X] Set up new webserver
  • [X] Take it easy
  • Made a pair of Thai fisherman’s pants
  • Planted hot peppers

Plans for next week:


  • [  ] Update Idea Lab moderator guide
  • [  ] Import Smarter Planet experts into expertise locator tool
  • [  ] Create expertise locator batch importer tool
  • [  ] Create Activity set-up tool
  • [  ] Lead team enablement call
  • [  ] Plug into other expertise location initiatives


  • [  ] Apply for marriage licence
  • [  ] Check out more photographers
  • [  ] Catch up with Maira Bay de Souza and Leigh Honeywell at
  • [  ] Finish influence map stories
  • [  ] Make box bottom and top


  • [  ] Figure out proper configuration for php-fastcgi
  • [  ] Convert more planting space
  • [  ] Bike during sunny days
View or add comments

Getting the hang of gardening

Posted: - Modified: | gardening, kaizen

I’m starting to figure out what works for me in terms of gardening. I start seeds indoors on a seed tray, keeping them cat-proof by stashing them in an indoor greenhouse. I don’t get enough light indoors, so I move seedlings out to larger containers in a small outdoor greenhouse, or in the pots on the deck. As seedlings grow, I move them into the garden bed, where chickenwire keeps them safe from squirrels and birds.

How is this better than planting directly in the ground?

  • Because I start the seeds in sterile soil mix, I don’t have to figure out whether a seedling is one of my plants or a weed.
  • It’s easier to weed around larger transplants than in a seedling bed.
  • I make better use of the sunny garden areas because I don’t have to wait for seeds to start.
  • I can use a heating mat to germinate seeds that need warm temperatures (bitter melon, canteloupes).

Things that are doing well: cilantro, lettuce (many kinds), tomatoes, spinach

View or add comments

The garden in May

Posted: - Modified: | gardening

 dscf2076 dscf2081 

I’ve written a little bit about our garden, but I haven’t reflected on how the garden helps me write and vice versa. Does it?

The usual benefits: Weeding and watering provide meditative breaks from the buzz of daily life.  The garden teaches me patience and anticipation. It keeps me in better tune with the seasons.

What can I write that hasn’t been written before?

I tell people to never let  the fear of clichés stop them from starting. After all, writing what has already been written is part of the process of discovering what is your own.

So: Why do I garden?

The mundane: I don’t want to pay the premium for cherry tomatoes at the supermarket, but I’ll happily invest in the seeds, soil, and screens to grow my own (even if it comes out to be more expensive).

I want to experience the taste of peas picked fresh from the vine, the glint of strawberries in a matted patch, the scent of rosemary lingering as I brush past. dscf2075

The stubbornness of weeds inspires me, as does the revival of the sage that I’d given up for dead.

Composting fascinates me. It’s good exercise, too.

I love the everyday miracles of seeds growing into plants ever so slowly and quickly all at once. Every day is a game of spot-the-difference.

What do I like about gardening? Turning lawn and patio stones into lettuce and tomatoes, putting down roots, and reaching for the sky (perhaps with a little help).

View or add comments