Different people see different things when they look at a garden. Some might see a mess or chaos or laziness or weeds. But when you fall in love with plants, you can see a garden the way you see someone you love. Instead of seeing a sleepy, messy haired, bad breathed person in the morning, if you love a person, you see someone you know you are going to love spending time with every day. You know all the little things about that person that charm you. You know the potential. You see the depth, the life, the secret wonders that no one else sees. This is my garden in early spring. You may see weeds, out-of-bounds flower beds, grass that should be trimmed; but I see life, the wonders of dandelions and violets that appear without being planted, experiments tried, ideas for the future and a place where I love to spend time. It’s my garden, and I love it!
Sometimes, when you have a passion for something, you are tempted to want more and more of it. A passion for flowers can lead to….well….too much money spent at the gardening center…for one thing! In this past summer’s garden, I tried to exercise some restraint. I planted only a couple different kinds of flowers and I didn’t bring large bouquets into the house. In fact, sometimes….I only brought in one. This is one of my pink zinnias, floated in a little Chinese sauce dish. One is nice, don’t you think? I can learn to be happy with one. 🙂
Spinach? You say you wouldn’t be caught dead eating it? Spinach has come a long way since our mothers tried to get us to eat the stuff out of the can! Of course, their mothers probably got to eat it fresh out of the garden, and unless you’ve tasted it fresh out of the garden, well….you haven’t REALLY tasted spinach.
It all started with Larry Cleverley’s early spring pop up market in Des Moines. He tweeted his location, and all of a sudden, I just had to drive down there. You know, you’ve been counting the days until the farmers market opens, and all of a sudden you have the opportunity to get a taste of one a couple of weeks before you expected!
I bought a large bag of this spinach, which Larry says had overwintered from last year. I stir-fried it in a little oil, just until it wilted, and then added salt. Oh man, I couldn’t even get it on the plate before I had eaten it half gone! And do you notice how this spinach looks different from the baby spinach leaves you see in the clam shell at the store? It turns out the term for these “wrinkled” leaves is savoyed, as in deep green savoyed leaves. For some reason, the texture of this spinach is so much more appealing to me than the flat clam shell leaves that stick together in a blob. Now the key to eating greens, I’ve found, is not making yourself eat too much of this good thing. Think of your greens almost as a garnish, two or three bite fulls. The rest of my bag of green delight went into a quiche.
And all of this finally brings me to Seed Savers Exchange and my dream of fall spinach in my own garden. As I was wandering around the Seed Savers demonstration gardens, I saw it…..dark green savoyed leaves! Yes…spinach! The variety is called America.
I bought a packet of seeds and dream every night of spinach omelets and wilted spinach with salt and maybe even some crumbled bacon. My only question now is when I should sow it for a fall crop and should I start it under my grow lights or direct sow outdoors. Any ideas fellow gardeners?
My sister said let’s plan something exciting for my birthday. For some people that might mean a hot air balloon ride or a trip to the windy city, but I have a passion for green, and one of the first things that popped into my mind was visiting a location on my Life List: Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. If you have ever had their catalog, you’ve probably spent hours lusting over the vegetables and getting engrossed in the stories behind many of the heirloom seeds. I wanted to see “where the magic happens”!
The first photo shows some of the demonstration gardens that are located near the visitor center and huge gift shop. The second photo we accessed by driving back a ways into the property, where the real magic happens. I assume this is a production field that is obviously not very far along in the first week of June. We did not take time for the walking tour, which might have given us more information and a better idea of what really goes on, but my mission, besides just getting there, was to see what they use for trellising and to SHOP! As with most museums, the highlight for me is usually the gift shop!