Saturday, April 23, 2011

More spring gardening, unraveling

Lilac season! I think it's early this year. When my mother visited, we trawled three different garden centers in search of a dark purple lilac, but found only white, pink, or light purple. Therefore, I got no lilac. However, today I made the most astonishing discovery. I may actually have a lilac in my garden after all. We have a little space between our garage and next door's property. It's got several elder trees growing in it, and a lilac. How can I not have seen this lilac before? I've been living here six years! In my defense, this space really is quite tiny and impossible to get to; it's almost completely blocked by our garage and the lilac is sandwiched between two very leafy elders. Now, it may actually be next door's lilac, as it's growing right on the property line. But hey, the part of it on my side is mine, right?

I'm loaded down with seedlings, both in the ground and on my windowsill. This winter I once more lost all my dahlia tubers stored in the garage; I think the extended cold got them. Again. Luckily, I have a few leftover seeds. Please survive this year, little lovelies! Of the seeds I collected last year, both the beets and chard are happy happy, but the broccoli refused to make an entrance. I wonder if it was one of those F1 hybrids, which don't produce viable seeds. I don't remember it on the package, but...

It is my dream to one day grow enough, so as not to need to buy vegetables, ever. In this climate, it's possible to have fresh garden vegetables all year round, though the selection is narrow late winter/early spring. But it would still be so cool, wouldn't it? Some, like potatoes and carrots, can be stored after harvesting, and some have a winter harvest, like parsnips, turnips, and cabbage.

I got the asparagus bed razed. I found evidence of only one (very paltry) asparagus spear in the process. Sigh.

Elsewhere in the Life of Me, I've become addicted to unravelling sweaters. The kind I buy at the charity shop, which could be an ugly style, or have a hole or stain, but still have very nice yarn. New yarn can be really expensive, especially the natural fibers like wool and cotton (pictured is some lovely 100% cotton from which I've started knitting a cardigan). And the luxury yarns like merino or cashmere I can only dream about purchasing--unless I find them in sweater form. A few weeks ago I bought a 100% cashmere sweater for £1. One. Pound. I nearly fell over when I found it. If I bought cashmere yarn new, it would probably cost about 10 times as much for about a quarter of the amount. I've not unravelled it yet. It's in my stash and I keep pulling it out to pet it: soft.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Progress in the garden, mending skills

I've planted more seeds this week, and pulled more weeds. My potatoes begin sprouting; most in the ground, though in a big black plastic planter, which must be a bit warmer than the ground, my potatoes have lovely bushy leaves. My asparagus bed needs some serious razing, but I'll do it when Franklin's asleep or with his dad--too many vulnerable seedlings close by for stomping on.

I'm so proud of my darning skills. I showed this shirt to Partner, and I'm sure you'll agree with him that the darn is completely invisible to the naked eye. The teletubby pictured was used as a darning egg--a tool to keep the darn as inconspicuous as possible. Po, being slippery plastic however, made an ineffective darning egg.

This time last year, I wanted to garden, but things like sleep, bathing, eating, and so on, got in the way. If we ever have another baby, I'm going to coordinate myself better! This year, however, my baby is very happy to help me garden; by helping I mean A) pulling out seedlings from their trays, B) picking flowers before they've actually flowered, C) finding dog poo and then playing with it and, D) insisting that he can walk on water, so let me on the pond, mama!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Crunch time for schoolwork. Java class ends in one month, with a final exam in June. From then on, I plan on only studying two classes simultaneously. Three at a time, especially as the classes are progressively more advanced, kills me. My brain hurts.

First priority is Franklin's care, and this takes up most of my day. I find it impossible to concentrate on anything else when he is awake (try mastering probability generating functions while making sure a one-year-old is stimulated, calmed, kept to routine, and doesn't starve, pull the dog's tail, or run with scissors). My next priority is work, which slots in on weekends. That leaves schoolwork to be wedged in where possible--and it jostles for position with Partner time. At the moment, I see more of my school books than I do of Partner.

I recognize the signs of mid-year burn-out. For the Java class, as I'm nearly done, I'm trying to motor through. For the other two classes, I've got till September, and that's ages away. Ages. And after that, another round of fresh classes. Will this never end?

While keeping both eyes on Franklin, I still manage a bit of knitting. I've a cotton baby cardigan on my needles, nearly finished, though slightly wonky, seeing as I paid more attention to him than the pattern while knitting. If not too embarrassing, I'll post a picture when it's finished.