Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gardeners, a friendly bunch

It's true, you know. Gardeners? A really friendly bunch of people, or at least that's been my experience. At the mention of the word garden, a cameraderie blooms. Can't you feel it?

I love it that Amy shared her experience with popping corn. Now I won't be disappointed, like her kids were, when the popped kernels are plain old white. And I'm tickled to learn she likes kale. Me? I'm growing it for the carving sticks. I haven't any idea what to do with the actual kale. If I'm lucky maybe Amy will share her kale tips. Please?

Dru's question about flats reminds me that not everyone plays in the dirt. A good thing to remember when I get started gabbing about seeds, sprouts and, eventually, saplings. Oh yes, the saplings are coming. In a week or so, I believe, but that's a post for another day.

By the way, a gardener's "flat" is a rectangular box, usually plastic but I'm lucky enough to have some really old wooden flats that I use as well as the plastic ones. The flat holds the smaller containers filled with soil and seeds. In big greenhouses most seedling cell packs are black plastic but I use peat pots and peat cell packs. That way when I plant, I plant the whole thing. Much easier for me. Hopefully better for the plants and garden.

Marianne, a fellow gardening enthusiast, wants to visit my greenhouse. I would love that! We could gab about writing and weeds. It sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Even on the other side of the world, gardening interest blooms--literally! My friend Jude sent lovely pictures of her barrel cactus. It's three years old (I asked) and a specimen any plant lover would enjoy seeing. If she says it's all right, I'll share the photos with all of you. I still can't figure out just how big it is because when I asked she gave me some centimeter answer that my old-math mind didn't translate into inches so I'm still clueless about how big this thing actually is. In gardening, size matters, you see, and I'm wildly curious but, like I said, without any idea. All I know is I think she should mail it over so we can all get a good look at it. Sounds like a plan, doesn't it?

Yesterday I shot over to Home Depot to pick up, what else?, more gardening supplies. Seeds, the stuff that doesn't require any more than two or three weeks' headstart, like cukes and some flowers, were fun to pick out. And I got zucchini, beans and the rest of the direct-sow seeds. Most of them, anyway. I'm sure there's something I forgot. (Trust me, I didn't forget anything. I just like to go look at the garden center plants.)

While I chose seeds I made a friend. A man friend. See? Meeting a man can happen in some unlikely spots, can't it?

Hold on to your hats, ladies! This man friend was probably in his eighties. A gardener, with obviously loads of experience, he was eager to talk. We compared the merits of determinate versus indeterminate tomato varieties (he favored indeterminate) and had an all-too-brief discussion about single-color, themed flower beds. We agreed we both enjoy multi-colored beds more but understand the monochromatic enthusiasts', well, enthusiasm for keeping flowers a uniform color.

Too quickly we parted but the memory of our meeting lingers. I enjoyed talking with the mystery gardener for so many reasons. He was a wealth of knowledge. He'd probably forgotten more about gardening than I know. He was funny, with a keen wit that made itself clear when he spoke about one-color gardens. And there was a sparkle in his deep brown eyes that gave me a hint at the man he was, long before age left its mark on his body. So many things he said and did in the short span of our acquaintance are imprinted on my mind, but what made the biggest impression on me was the love that lit his expression while we talked. Not love for a woman, but a deep, undeniable appreciation for the soil and growing things. He was a true gardener, and our friendship, although short, was based on that mutual love and respect.

This morning I'm headed out to the greenhouse. I'm going to play in the dirt and smile as I consider gardening, gardening friends--old and new--and the bounty that will be growing in our corner of the world this year. It's going to be a pretty summer, I just know it is.


Anonymous said...

one of the things I like most about reading this blog is knowing I'll usually learn something. This gardening talk is informative. Keep it coming please! I might find a use for the corner of dirt in our back yard that is so ugly now.


Dru said...

Thanks Sarita for the definition. Now I know what you're talking about. I've seen them at HOme Depot, looks like an egg carton but with dirt and something sticking out of it.

I like that I'll get to enjoy gardening vicariously through you and Marianne.

Anonymous said...

Kale, kale, kale...Well, I never really ate it until one day, I was shopping for kale for our sick turtle and bemoaning how I was buying this huge bunch of kale for a teeny tiny turtle. The lady next to me overheard and gave me some suggestions, so here are the ways I like it:

Chopped up and mixed with scrambled eggs: mix the chopped kale with the raw beaten eggs, put in pan. Cook.

Cut into chiffonade or tear into quarter-sized pieces and steam in a pan atop the stove. The water used for rinsing should be plenty to produce steam. Serve with a the juice of a lemon mixed with some melted butter or oil.

Also, you can use it in soups and stews. I'll chop it up and throw it into just about any vegetable soup.

Steam it and add softened onions, pan-cooked potatoes, other vegetables. You could even throw in some white beans and make it a one-dish meal.

You could also substitute it for spinach and chard in many recipes.

Unknown said...

Wow, Amy has some super recipes! Now I'm going to have to buy some to try. I've never had kale. Never even seen it but now I am definitely curious.

Anonymous said...

Susan, and there are all different types of kale, try a few to find the one you like.

Sarita Leone said...

Amy! Thank you so much for the wonderful kale ideas! I am thrilled that you've shared so many. The steamed, then added to potatoes one especially appeals to me. I've got a weakness for potatoes!

Now I'm really looking forward to this whole kale growing experience. I'll not only have the fun sticks for my husband to carve but we'll be able to eat the kale, too. Thanks! You've made my day!

Marianne Arkins said...

Kale in soup is my favorite way to eat it.

And, Sarita -- I'm starting cucumber seeds next week (always plant on a new moon or shortly after) -- I can't WAIT.

I'll have to nearly completely redesign one of my front flower gardens because the chipmunk horde decimated it, though I do have columbine and english daisy coming up, thankfully.

And, yes... they know me by name at the local nursery. *G*