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March 10, 2005

So just about everything's sprouted, now.

Everything but the delphinium, at any rate. Clearly, I'm going to have to rig something that will allow me to move some of the more aggressively growing seedlings out of the warm beds before it's warm enough outside to use the container garden shelves as cold frames.

I disconnected the heating pads last night, since 80% of the stuff is up now. The pinks shot up within three days. Not too surprising, actually -- they always sprout. They just haven't always done well once I transplanted them. I never 'hardened' them properly before, though. Not sure when I should go out with the duct tape and plastic to set up the cold frames -- probably not before April first, I'm guessing.

Though the starter kits all say you're supposed to kill off all but the strongest seeding in each pellet, I think I'll play it a little more liberal with them this year, especially the stuff like the myosotis and lobelias, which apparently have a very high sprout percentage (who knew?). When I buy flats of lobelias at the garden stores, they always look like there are about half a dozen plants in each pot (and they're almost inevitably 'wound around the axle' by the roots, which I can avoid).

The bluebonnets are doing a Godzirra, at this point. The only saving grace, judging from the jump they took off the blocks, is that no matter how insanely aggressive they are, they won't perennialize here in Zone 6 -- first ten degree day next winter will do them in completely. If they live and bloom well once they've been planted in the yard this year, though, I'll definitely have to keep an eye on them and deadhead for seeds -- they sprout pretty well; whether they grow or not is another thing entirely.

I'm determined that, barring injury or illness (mine or anyone else's), that I'll keep up with the gardening this year, once I can start it. The sorry state of the world has driven me to things about which I can at least fool myself I have a little more control, and the limited difficulty and at least marginally more controllable variables of gardening appeal to me for, doubtless, the same reasons they appealed to my grandmother (who very likely developed her abiding interest in it during the Great Depression, when about all the recreation that made sense had to cost little or nothing). You're not gambling with immense amounts of money with gardening (though the effort can be expensive in other, mostly physical, ways), but the return on ivnestment for those of us who are "into that sort of thing" is much greater than the average gambler's average return (which is, most of the time, less than nothing).

The "green stuff" I'm "into" doesn't fold into a wallet, and I'm willing to work a little harder or buy small and wait, to keep the folding green stuff that is involved in gardening from becoming an insurmountable issue.

And even if I get a floody summer, or a late frost that dooms it all this year -- the most expensive year for the garden/yard since 2002 (when we bought the ailing Atlas cedar and the now-defunct flowering almond), standing at about $150 between ordered plants, the starter beds (whcih will amortize themselves, if they work this year), and peat pots, seeds and potting soil I bought -- I still won't have lost more than I put into it. I'll have gotten something out of it, even if it's only the experience of messing it all up again.

There's yet another plant I want to buy and put in, if I can figure out a good place for it, but I'm going to wait and look around at the few local nurseries left me before I pony up $50 and another $25 for shipping to get a weeping pussy willow up from Cinci. In a pig's eye, no? The Spring Hill warehouse is apparently either on the border down where I-275 meets 'even fewer teeth per capita' land (Indiana), or else it's in Tipp City (which is only twenty miles up the road from me). Either way, I deeply resent the fact that since Spring Hill doesn't have a brick-and-boards store, I'll be reduced to paying something like a buck a mile to get a plant delivered to my door that I could drive and pick up in the RAV for the UCR .23 a mile that vehicle would cost to make the trip. And it wouldn't take more than an hour, either direction.

Meh. I'm still shirty over Groby's closing, is it too obvious? SOBs. Not Groby's -- I understand 'we just can't afford to keep at it anymore' -- the people who didn't go there to buy stuff. The shitheads who preferred Big Box retailers to local gardening centers, who will have the nerve to wonder, twenty years down the road, why all the plants they can get kinda' look the same, have a very limited range of colors, and are fake-looking.

It pisses me off, you see, because local garden centers usually make the unusual affordable to the casual gardener -- the person who's not independently wealthy, who still wants a garden that doesn't look like everybody else's. That would be me. I don't mind putting a bit more back into it, but I'm not going to bleed money into the dirt over it. Here's an interesting side note -- most of the seeds for American plants (including the Texas bluebonnets) I bought to start in the warm beds were not propagated and packaged in the U.S. They were from Ferry-Morse. Ferry-Morse is a British company. This is what I'm grousing about -- American nurseries don't even bother with the stuff anymore. They have three colors of viola, three colors of petunia, and screw you if you want anything else -- you can pay the premium to buy British seeds, or settle for the conformist crap they sell cheaply.

It will be because they traded local genetic diversity for marginal savings by abandoning the local and regional nurseries that propagated plants for reasons other than popularity, which is all the big corporate nurseries bother with.

I'll bet when this finally has happened, they'll find a way to blame somebody but themselves or CorpoBigBoxMart, too.

They will be wrong.

It will be their fault that they can only get three colors of one kind of viola, instead of the bitchin' spectrum their grannies used to grow out beside the house.

It will be their fault that all the affordable rosebushes from CorpoBigBoxMart look like plastic and flower within a narrow range of colors from saffron to bright red, and the only way to get anything different or, dare I say, distinctive will be to pay out the ass and order from Canada or overseas, or from specialty houses here in the U.S. I already had to do this to get the Cecile Brunners I ordered this year -- a specialty rose house in Austin will be providing rosebushes for me, which are hardy here where I live and which used to be fairly popular and common. But they're not showy and not every bloom is perfect, and they're pale-colored, small blossoms -- they don't look like Ronald McRosebush, in other words.

They will have starved local retail diversity and its motivation to cultivate to local or regional taste just to save a few bucks on some puny, endlessly recopied annuals (anybody seen enough freakin' petunias to make 'em yak yet? That's the latest craze, apparently...), or ugly, over-engineered McRosebushes.

They will not be offered fries with that.

They will whine.

But I will be magnanimous.

I will offer them some cheese to go with it.

Posted by Melinda at March 10, 2005 09:42 AM


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