Monday, February 27, 2012

Still February

 I love the red of the bare branches of this coral barked maple when its wet

After that last post, winter reared its head ever so briefly.  We had a dusting of snow a week or so ago, maybe an inch but it was melted by mid day.  Today is cold and rainy, I'm glad I don't have to be out in it.  I had planned to plant spinach and beets but they'll have to wait for another day when the sun comes back out and dries the ground up a bit.  I did manage to plant 180 onions last week, 40 red, 40 white and 100 yellow.  We ate the last onion from last years crop this week.  I would plant more but without a cold cellar I just don't think they would keep much past this time without sprouting and starting to rot.  It's a great investment when there is a good crop; $20 for the plants, about 4 hours of back bending to plant them, some weeding and watering yielded 80 pounds last year.  Last week when I bought the first onions in 8 months they were $4 for 3 pounds- that's $240 that we grew ourselves last year, a pretty good return I'd say.  David got the peas and first planting of lettuce, radish and carrots in last week too and a few pounds of potatoes wait in their paper sacks to go into the ground soon.
The onions in their neat rows.  Bright green in the center right are shallots planted in January

I've been working my tail off trying to get the community gardens up and running for the season.  Calling gardeners to organize meetings and work days, enrolling new families to fill vacant plots, sorting through last years seeds to figure out what's still viable and what I need to order for the coming season.  I've been organizing students from UNC to help out in the face of no staff this year because of budget cuts.  I'm the solo employee at this point, queen bee for all three gardens and the 45 families that will fill them in the next few months.  My office is a disaster; boxes of seeds, gardening handouts and planting charts, enrollment forms and garden agreements spread across the floor. I've been writing grants too, all in my 20 hour a week allotted time!  Sure feels like I'm working more than that, but I don't count the hours I spend thinking about it all, or worrying and losing sleep at night either...

Yesterday I held the first in a series of monthly veggie gardening basics classes that I'll be offering this year.  The day was a big success, 15 people came to my class in English and another 14 showed up to hear the same spiel in Spanish.  That was a challenge for me but I think I held my own, managing to make myself understood and only grappling for the right word a few times.  Everyone seemed interested and left excited to go home or into their community garden plot and plant some seeds.  And we raised $170 for the community gardens in donations from the participants.  Every little bit helps now that the grant funds have almost run out.

I'm ready for spring to come on now, it's been a challenging month feeling like spring but knowing by the calendar that its not yet time, having to hold back.  This week I'll set up the grow light in the corner of the bedroom and sow my flats with tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds to grow up and set out in mid-April.  Spring really is just around the corner.
A fancy hellebore struts her stuff

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