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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seed Catalogs - Dreaming Of Spring

Personally I think it is cruel for garden companies and especially those that sell seeds to gardeners to send their catalogs out the first week of January. Their covers depict these pictures of nice plump blueberries, nice healthy looking squash, and flowers of every type and description. Living here our ground is frozen solid down to 4' deep, and it has several feet of snow on top of frozen ground. That in itself is cruel to do to someone who wouldn't be able to get a seed into the ground for the next several months with anything short of a jack hammer.

But then to show all those beautiful fruits and vegetables without a blemish on them just rubs salt into the wounds created by sending their deceptive catalogs out in January. Sure it gets the gardener thinking well ahead but as you get older and your memory isn't what it once was, your memory wasn't what it once was, I just know I'll forget that some of these seeds are drought resistant and fast growers when it gets around to planting time.

As I gaze at those beautiful fruits and vegetables that don't have a visible flaw on them I give myself a reality check. My fruit never seems to be as big or perfect as those in the pictures. Mine has little nibbles out of it from voles, birds and field mice. The harshness of our climates makes them wilt in the afternoon and look almost semi normal in the morning. If I grew a garden for 100 years I couldn't get my produce to look as good at those seed catalog photos show.

I also have to deal with ground squirrels and chipmunks. When my garden starts to come in we go from seeing a few greedy rodents to having thousands. It is like the call goes out for miles that Bruce's garden is ready. The ones we do have end up so fat they drag their bellies on the ground as they gorge themselves on our vegetables. They don't run across the ground, they sort of swim with their little legs protruding out the side of their plump bodies - kind of rocking from side to side while they inch forward. Even at my age I could out run them if I had the desire to do so. I plant distractions like gooseberry bushes and current bushes, but that only holds them back for a short while until they work their way to my raspberries. They probably die from serious infections from dragging their raw bellies through the same ground the dogs peed on. Has to be a lot of bacteria in that dirt or at least I hope so. They sure don't die from starvation at least as long as I'm foolish enough to keep planting a garden they can prey upon.

So as I sit here drooling over those perfect fruits and vegetables pictured in the seed catalogs it is with ongoing irritation that I remember that none of my produce ever looks quite like that in the pictures. I tried corn one year and discovered where they get those little ears of corn you find in canned Chow Mien Chinese food. They have dopes like me trying to grow real corn and end up with ears of corn less than an inch long. We sell cheap which gives the Chow Mien people larger profits.

Nope, my result always seems slightly different than what is advertised. I keep year after year striving for a garden that will look like the photos in the catalog but apparently that just isn't to be. So when I gaze at all those perfect fruits and vegetables I sometimes forget what my previous result actually looked like, that being a miniature version of their perfect garden photos. I get lost in my dream world thinking that maybe, just maybe - this year my garden will really look like those pictures.

I go from one vegetable seed to another vegetable seed and can't decide what to grow this year. That has always been one of my problems in looking at seed catalogs though: I used to be indecisive but now I'm not so sure. Just trying to figure out what might grow this time is a yearly challenge. All this is giving me a headache so I think I'll just lay those catalogs aside for now and take a nap. Personally I think to have fruit and vegetables the size of the pictured ones in the seed catalog I would have to start with a three pound seed.


Carol said...

In the past few years it has become evident that my husband is a writer. In this blog one can see that he has retained his sense of humor as well! :)+

Raylene said...

Dear God in Heaven!!---Thank You for sending your blog--I truly needed a good laugh today and you supplied just that. New Years is always a difficult time for me--lots of saddness associated with this time of year on top of the let down from the Holidays. However, you did plant the seeds of laughter this afternoon.

I have the same issues as you when it comes to gardening--earth is clay here so every hole you dig is a clay pot. Squirrels will eat any/every thing green that I plant and other creatures will eat every seed they can pry from the clay. I feel pretty certain nothing grows in Hades as as soon as what few things nange to come up,it gets hotter than Hell and things cook on the vine.

I have decided,over the years, that gardening is a religious experience--you do it each year to keep hope alive that there is a harvet out there, somewhere, and keep on belivin' !

Anonymous said...

Bruce, I just started reading your blog in the last 6 months. I wanted to convey to you that I really enjoy your posts here. I found you through your Mother Earth News blog.

I suspect the results would be the same, but have you had any success with container gardening as far as keeping the rodents out goes?

Bruce said...

Thank you Mike: I'm glad you like our blogs. As to container gardening I have had great success. Up until I built the raised garden boxes which are surrounded top bottom and sides with hardware cloth I lost a lot of vegetables and didn't realize all zucchini didn't have critter bites. Those container/garden boxes are great as we don't have insects that do noticeable damage. I also use container boxes on our deck, but have to cover them with sun screening to keep the contents safe. I believe they are Earth boxes and are pretty maintenance free. Until I made the garden boxes and covered the container boxes I really lost a lot of vegetables to rodent abuse. Thanks for asking, and I use 50% sun filter screen over my container boxes and they seem to do quite well.

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