Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mysterious kale illness.

I am still having issues with my poor kale-lings. Their lower leaves keep turning yellow and falling off. What is up with that? :(

I have read that it is probably a lack of nitrogen in the soil, but I just fertilized...I think tonight I am going to do a water change in the goldfish tank and use the nasty goldfish water to soak the kale and maybe the nitrate waste in the fish water will perk them up.

Barring that, I'm not really sure what to do...

The spinach is kicking butt and taking names, though. And I've about decided that leeks are more trouble than they're worth.

Sets Of Three

Three jobs I have had: Kennel crew member at a municipal kill shelter, grocery store clerk, technical editor.

Three places I have lived: Huntsville, AL; Tuscaloosa, AL; Auburn, AL.

Three shows/channels that I watch: House M.D., Top Chef, Malcolm In The Middle

Three places I have been: Boston, Massachusetts; San Diego, California; New York, New York.

Three people who email me often: Sonya, Leslie, Ilisa

Three of my favorite types of foods: Soups, Asian food, Southern soul food

Three places I would rather be: Tuscaloosa hanging with my best friend, fishing/boating at Lake Guntersville, on another road trip north.

Three friends I think will respond: Who knows...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Letter meme - J

I got the letter J in a meme from two and a half cents (see blogroll) so here it goes...

1. Jaded - I am a very jaded person. Part of it is due to the fact that I have very high ideals, and get disappointed when other people don't live up to them. I am politically cynical and expect politicians to get away with exactly as much as I allow them to. I have been exposed to a wide variety of wild experiences, and this has made it pretty much impossible for anyone to shock or surprise me. Since most surprises are not pleasant, I am not partial to them anyway.

2. Jocund - Despite my cynicism, I am generally an optimistic and cheerful person because there is a good chance that everything will turn out all right, one way or the other. I lead a fairly carefree life and I don't believe in worrying about things you have no control over. I am lighthearted, and a happy drunk.

3. Janus-faced - These two aspects of my personality identify me a dual-natured person. One could say that I am "Janus-faced"...many facets of who I am are contradictory; I am a slob who adores order, I'm an ethical liberal and a fiscal conservative, I am a homebody who loves new experiences and a religious person who does not attend church. (I meditate daily and study religious texts, but it is rare I make it to services, although I'm trying to rectify that.) I can also be a bit of a hypocrite at times. I try to work on that too.

4. Justice - I am obsessed with what is just, and justice is a driving force behind many of my ethical decisions. I try to take into account not just what is fair to me, but what is fair to everyone. Injustice infuriates me, and there is nothing I despise more than the obstruction of individual freedoms.

5. Java - I am a caffeine addict. A cup of coffee is vital to my morning routine, and without it I am a zombie until roughly 10 AM.

6. Jazz - I live by the rules of improvisation, and try to go with the flow as much as possible because I think it decreases the stress associated with change. That isn't always an option, but I'm always happy when I have many directions to choose from when it comes to how I am going to steer my life. I am also a fan of Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday.

7. Jinx - I have abysmal luck sometimes, but it's usually comical and temporary (like locking my keys in the trunk of my car). Sometimes the sheer amount of crazy things that happen to me wears me down though. It may be amusing enough for a sitcom, but it gets old.

8. Junk - I am a pack rat, and tend to accumulate WAY more junk than I need or will ever need at any point in my life. Occasionally I have to declutter my entire home and get rid of dozens of things that I don't want to look at anymore. My worst junk offenders are papers (I have problems throwing even an insignificant note away) and dirty laundry (I can never seem to get a laundry routine down...)

9. Jest - I love a good joke and I'm always up for teasing somebody (or getting teased). I think people take themselves way too seriously at times and I'm one of those people who tend to do that. So I go out of my way to be ridiculous sometimes. Being silly and having fun is good for you.

10. Jnana - Jnana is insight gained through meditation. I think I learn a lot through silent introspection and contemplation, so I make it a process to meditate and think deeply on a regular basis.

If anyone else wants a meme letter, let me know. :)

Garden update

Not much new going on in the garden right this moment. I got a new garden gnome for Valentine's Day that looks sort of like the one from the Roaming Gnome Travelocity commercials (this fact amuses me to no end).

I had to toss a few romaine lettuce plants that had root rot (probably from the transplant shock) and I thinned two of them, taking the tiny secondary plants that were fighting with the buttercrunch for food/water and replanting them on the end of the rows with the other three saved rejects. If they survive, cool. If not, eh, whatever. I am sure the remaining plants will benefit from the lack of competition.

I am having an issue with my kale seedlings where the lower leaves are turning yellow. I think this might be a nitrogen issue, but I'm still doing research. I've also had this issue with my cabbage seedlings. If anyone has a remedy or a solution for that problem, let me know. I did a bunch of snipping to strip the diseased leaves and leave more energy for the healthy ones, but I'd like to rectify the situation so I don't lose more leaves. The seedlings only have so many...

The best performers so far are the onions and the spinach, which are looking fantastic. The spinach lost a few lower leaves to what appears to be frostbite, but otherwise looks spunky and is putting out tons of new leaves. None of the onions had transplant shock like the cabbages/lettuce/brussel sprouts/broccoli did.

So far everything is looking good, if growing a little more slowly than I would have anticipated. But gardening is a patient art.

I want to get a new shoplight for starting the hot weather transplants (it's getting dangerously late in the year to start my heirlooms) but unfortunately I do not have an extra $150 hanging around. 'Tis the state of affairs, I'm afraid. Hopefully I can squeeze the seed startup project into my budget after I get paid this Thursday and get all that stuff rolling this weekend, as well as direct sow the plants I didn't get to last weekend.

What the stars say about me.

I'm interested in astrology, not because I believe it (although I am tempted at times) but because it's a cool concept, and scarily accurate at times. Here's what astrology has to say about me:

1985: Born in the year of the Ox

Ox people are hard-working and persistent, they can stick at a task longer and go at it harder than anybody. They believe in themselves and tend to classify almost everything into two basic categories, bad and good. They hold up their high standards as a model and severely judge those who don't aspire to maintain these same ideals.

Ox people are not social or party animals, they tend to be quiet when in a party. Although they appear to be tranquil, in fact, Oxen are ponderous but impulsive when angry. They are capable of fearsome rages, therefore, it is better not to cross an Ox.

Ox people are observant, they have remarkable memories and are good at reporting on absolutely everything they observe. Go ask an Ox if she remembers who were at the party 8 months ago, most likely, she will name them one by one to you.

In the home, the Ox is a great guy to have around. In business, the OX can succeed in the arts, a contracting business, or an estate., thanks to their creative nature. And since an Ox is intelligent and good with his/her hands, he can be a good surgeon as well.

Ox people are stubborn and dogmatic, they believe in their decisions and will never regret them once they're made. They are also very close to their families. Unfortunately, Oxen often find that those who are close to them fail to understand them. Nevertheless, they are patient and caring; that makes Oxen the best friends you can ever have.

Oxen are very responsible and loyal. Ox people are seldom jealous. but they will be jealous of their rights; and the fidelity of a husband or a wife is one of their rights. They are very family-oriented, conservative and faithful.

The Ox works hard, patiently, and methodically, with original intelligence and reflective thought. These people enjoy helping others. Behind this tenacious, laboring, and self-sacrificing exterior lies an active mind. While their balance and strength inspire confidence, Oxen can seem rigid, obstinate, and slow. They impress others as leaders, fearing neither responsibility nor risk. However, sometimes they must labor long hours to accomplish little.

The Chinese say the time of year and day an Ox is born is important in determining lifestyle. One woman in Hong Kong bragged that she would always be financially provided for with minimal effort on her part because she was born on a winter night. Oxen have little to do during the winter months, she explained, because the sweat of summer and fall harvesting is over and it is up to the farmer to feed and keep the oxen warm so they'll have strength for spring planting. Oxen born during agricultural months, however, are sentenced to a life of hard labor.

People born under the influence of the Ox are kind, caring souls, logical, positive, filled with common sense and with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Security is their main preoccupation in life, and they are prepared to toil long and hard in order to provide a warm, comfortable and stable nest for themselves and their families. Strong-minded, stubborn, individualistic, the majority are highly intelligent individuals who doen't take kindly to being told what to do.

Although Ox people don't ask to be put in the limelight, they do like to be boss, for these quietly dominant types enjoy being in positions of power. Oxen try to instill in those around them the rigor, determination and power of work which they themselves possess. Respecting others, they are always open to a dialogue. Even though they may not broadcast their virtues to the world, nevertheless it is that steady, conscientious attitude that will deservedly see them to the top.

The Ox childhood and youth will generally be without incident. It is in the second part of their lives that they will encounter difficulties to do with their marriage. Their partners may well take offense at their apparent indifference and seek consolation elsewhere in an attempt to find the romance so conspicuously absent at home. If this happens and the Ox cannot put things right by the exercise of intelligence, the ruin of the entire family may be risked as Oxen have no time for a deviation they are unable to understand. During the third part of life, Oxen may suffer enormous difficulties, but if they can manage to smooth them out, their old age will be peaceful.

The Affectionate Ox

Oxen make solid, steady, reliable partners. They can be tender, devoted, sensual even -- but they are never romantic. Very affectionate to those close to their hearts, they are cool and distant to anyone outside their emotional circle. Getting close to an Ox is a very difficult thing to do, for they hold all but their chosen few at arm's length. However, once they have committed themselves, they make loyal, steadfast lovers and are the least likely of all the signs to possess a roving eye. Casual love affairs are definitely not the Ox's style. Although they may not show it, their emotions are deep and passionate. If their love is spurned or if they should suffer a broken heart, they will retreat inside themselves and channel all their emotions into their work. Generally, they make no mistakes in their judgment of others, successfully merging their romantic and family lives. Happily settled in a contented relationship, an Ox will make a supportive and faithful partner, someone whose love grows stronger by the year and whose sterling qualities are worth his or her weight in gold.

The Rooster, Rat and Serpent get on very well with Oxen. There are struggles and problems with the Monkey, and a lack of understanding with the Ram and the Boar.

Popular belief is adamant that the Ox should under no circumstances set up house with the Tiger. Such a partnership would inevitably end in a battle that could terminate only with the departure or disappearance of the Tiger. The Ox, the stronger of the two, would keep on charging until the Tiger was destroyed. An Ox mother could never get on with a Tiger child -- better for the latter to leave home!

February is the month of the Ox. The time of the Ox is from 1:00 a.m. to 2:59 a.m.; their direction of orientation is north-northeast. The Ox's color is violet.

Life Path #: 7


The 7 Life Path is the searcher and seeker of truth. You have a clear and compelling sense of yourself as a spiritual being. As a result, your goal is devoted to investigations into the unknown, and to finding the answers to the mysteries of life.

You possess a fine mind; you are an analytical thinker who is capable of great concentration and theoretical insight. You enjoy research and putting the pieces of an intellectual puzzle together. Once you have enough pieces in place, you are capable of highly creative insight, and of practical solutions to problems.

You enjoy your solitude, preferring to work alone. You need time to contemplate your ideas without the intrusion of other's people's thoughts. You are a lone wolf, a person who lives by your own ideas and methods.

As a result, close associations are difficult for you to form and to keep especially, marriage. You need your space and privacy, which when violated, can cause great frustration and irritation. When your life is balanced, however, you are both charming and attractive. You can be the life of a party and you enjoy performing before an audience. You enjoy displaying your wit and knowledge, which makes you attractive to others, especially the opposite sex. But you have distinct limits. While you are generous in social situations, sharing your attention and energy freely, you are keenly aware of the need to come off stage, and to return to the solitude of your lair. You associate peace with the unobtrusive privacy of your world. Therefore, intimacy is difficult for you, because you guard your inner world like a mother lion does her cubs.

However, all this privacy and solitude can cause isolation and loneliness. You can be aware of an emptiness in your life, a part of you that yearns for company and close companionship that may be unsatisfied.

If isolation is brought to extreme, you can become cynical and suspicious. You can develop hidden, selfish motives, which people may sense and cause them to be uncomfortable around you. You must guard against becoming too withdrawn and too independent, thus shutting out the love for others, and keeping you from experiencing the true joy of friendship and close companionship.

You must especially watch out for selfishness and egocentricity, thinking of yourself as the center of the universe, as the only person who really matters. Social contract gives you perspective on yourself and on life, while too much isolation can make you too narrow, and even shut off from the rest of the world.

Secretly, you may feel jealous of the easy relationships formed by others; you may perceive others as less inhibited than you, or more free to express themselves. You may harshly criticize yourself for not being more gregarious, powerful or capable of greater leadership.

Your challenge in life is to maintain your independence without feeling isolated or ineffectual. You must hold fast to your unique view of the world while at the same time being open to others and to the knowledge they have to offer.

With your abilities to learn, analyze and seek out answers to life's important questions, you have the potential for enormous growth and success in life. By the time you reach middle age you will radiate refinement and wisdom. Phytaguours, who lived 2500 years ago and is often called the father of numerology, loved the 7 for its great spiritual potential.

The person with a 7 Path Life often finds success and satisfaction with business, science, religion, insurance, invention, the occult and anything relate to research.

Destiny #: 2

The 2 destiny suggests that the direction of growth in your lifetime will be toward gaining an understanding of people and a greater spiritual sense of the world around you. A name producing a 2 Destiny gives you the tools to work very well with other people. Your destiny will be, in part, in the role of the mediator and the peacemaker. As you grow in this direction, you become sensitive to the feelings of others, you become diplomatic in handling complicated situations.

The spiritual potential for the 2 destiny, and perhaps particularly so for the master number 11/2, is very high. You have the capacity to be inspirational, and the ability to lead merely by your own example. An inborn inner strength and awareness can make you an excellent teacher, social worker, philosopher, or advisor. No matter what area of work you pursue, you are very aware and sensitive to the highest sense of your environment. Your intuition is very strong; in fact, many psychic people and those involved in occult studies have the number 11/2 Destiny. Indeed, the 2 has a spiritual connection not found in other numbers.

In many ways you are dependent on others and seem to function best in a partnership or in some form of group activity. As you mature, modesty will run deeper in your nature, and you must work comfortably without recognition of your accomplishments.
Often, others will get credit for your ideas, and this must be of little real concern to you as you skill as a team play progresses. Cooperative, courteous, and considerate, you have the capacity to become an outstanding facilitator. You will have the capacity to organize and handle people, just as you will handle detail, rarely overlook anything.

As you fulfill your destiny, tactful and friendly behavior will increase your popularity, and nearly everyone will like you. Perhaps this is also because you are more content working with your ideals, rather than dollars and cents. The positive aspect of the number 2 Destiny is an always idealistic attitude. This is even more accentuated in the master number 11/2.

The negative 2 personality can be oversensitive and easily hurt. Too much of this number in your makeup can make you very shy and uncertain. Sometimes the excessive 2 energies makes one apathetic and somewhat indifferent to the job at hand; the ability to handle details is hampered in these cases.

Some 2s, and especially the 11/2s, struggle with a continuous sense of nervous tension; you may be too sensitive and temperamental. You tend to dream a lot and may be more of a dreamer than a doer. Fantasy and reality sometimes become intermingled and you are sometimes very impractical. You tend to want to spread the illumination of your knowledge to others irrespective of their desire or need.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This about sums up my feelings on the situation.

Shuttin' Detroit Down

My daddy taught me that in this country everyone’s the same
You work hard for your dollar and you never pass the blame
When it don’t go your way...

Now I see all these big shots whinin’ on my evening news
About how they’re losin’ billions and how it’s up to me and you
To come running to the rescue -

Well pardon me if I don’t shed a tear
‘cause they’re selling make-believe,and we don’t buy that here.

'Cause in the real world they're shutting Detroit down
While the boss man takes his bonus pay and jets on out of town
And D.C.’s bailing out the bankers as the farmers auction ground...
Yeah, while they’re living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town,
Here in the real world there shuttin’ Detroit down
They’re shuttin’ Detroit down.

Well that old man’s been workin’ in that plant most all his life
Now his pension plan’s been cut in half and he can’t afford to die
And it’s a crying shame, ‘cause he ain’t the one to blame -
When I look down and see his callused hands,
Let me tell you friend, it gets me fightin’ mad.

'Cause in the real world they're shutting Detroit down
While the boss man takes his bonus pay and jets on out of town
And D.C.’s bailing out the bankers as the farmers auction ground...
Yeah while they’re living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town,
Here in the real world there shuttin’ Detroit down.
They’re shuttin’ Detroit down.

Yeah while there’ living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town
Here in the real world there shuttin’ Detroit down
Here in the real world there shuttin’ Detroit down

In the real world they’re shuttin' Detroit down, they’re shuttin’ Detroit down.


It's a VERY blustery day today. On my lunch break I had to go and prop some cardboard boxes up in the garden to act as wind breaks for my transplanted seedlings, which were being battered to heck and back by the weather. There are three romaine lettuce seedlings in particular that don't look like they're doing too well. They are limp and peakish-looking. I doubt they will survive. But as long as they are not rotting in the ground, I won't pull them up. It's only fair to give them a decent shot to recover. I put down some plant food this morning and we've gotten a steady sprinkle of rain today, so hopefully it will get my plot nice and moist to help out.

On the other hand, I found two kale plants and one white cabbage plant in the compost bin that looked remarkably healthy for having been thrown in the rubbish heap, so I pulled them out, dusted them off, and popped them in the ground at the end of the rows. No use in wasting good vegetable plants, especially if they look as good (if not better) than the ones you've already planted. It does screw up my neat little rows though, which bothers my OCD. But I'll live.

I did learn a valuable lesson to avoid transplant shock though - don't break up the root ball on any new young plants that you might have when you're planting. It hurts them. Especially, apparently, delicate seedlings like romaine.

To me, putting up the wind breaks seems like a pretty apt metaphor for what a lot of Americans are having to do right now. If they have wind breaks, they are putting them up in preparation for the storm. Things are hard all over, and I'll admit, it's made me a bit depressed at times. But I have faith that with dogged perseverance, charity, and a certain amount of practical preparation, most Americans will be able to weather the storm all right.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kale & Kensho - or, How I Became An Agrarian Zen Buddhist (with a story!)

I got a majority of my cool weather crops planted yesterday, because it was absolutely beautiful this weekend. (Eventually there will be photos on this blog, I swear.) Only time will tell if they will produce. I planted everything from strawberries to broccoli, so we’ll see.

Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that my luck is inconsistent at best. As a result of this, I have had to develop a “roll with the punches” attitude over the years – not necessarily without a fair amount of griping, but I do pride myself on being fairly flexible for somebody who adores routine and order. This is probably because I am innately chaotic, my life is full of bizarre trials, and my love of order goes against everything that I am. I am disorder walking, in a nutshell. Soto Zen Buddhism was one of the things I turned to as a teenager in order to bring some semblance of peace to my life. And for the most part, it has succeeded. I lead a pretty sedate and contented life, and my goals are simple ones – owe no one, own land, be free.

This isn’t a religious blog, but since my religion factors in pretty strongly with my interest in horticulture and sustainable living, I will explain why gardens and Zen go together like peas and carrots.

Gardens are symbolic of everything holy in Buddhism – transient life, simple aesthetic natural beauty, kindness, compassion, and the nurturing of other living things. This all sounds very free-spirited, hippy-oriented, and nice in general, but gardens also represent some of the more difficult tenets of Buddhism – that suffering is inevitable, that death is unavoidable, that sometimes no matter how hard you try, things don’t work out for you. No matter how hard you work to keep your plants from dying, when winter comes, that is what will happen to them. It is a solemn reminder that no matter how much you love the people and things around you, they will all, without exception, be destroyed and gone in time. This is why living in the moment is so important, because the moment is all you have. To paraphrase Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.” (One of the most profound statements I’ve ever heard in a cartoon, I will tell you that much.)

Gardening slows you down, makes you pay attention and appreciate things. When you are digging a hole, it is very difficult to think of anything else besides digging that hole. You get in the zone. Being “in the zone” is Zen.
One way that Buddhism deviates from other major religions is that there is a major emphasis on putting thought into action. There is no messiah in Buddhism – the salvation of your soul is your own burden. Others can help you, but ultimately the realization which leads to enlightenment is your own. Things would be so much easier if a person could just say, “Here I am, please save me.” But in my experience, things are not so simple. Huddling in to wait for a miracle is not an option. Miracles, as far as I’m concerned, only come from the application of dedicated hearts and minds. God helps those who help themselves. Or, as Roland Deschain would say, “Water where God wills it.”

So here we are. Our country is teetering on the edge of a major economic meltdown which may last a decade and drive us deep into a depression. Global climate change is destroying our environment. We (Americans) have been at war for eight years. (Yeah, that long.) The world is in crisis.

But there is also a movement afoot to not only save the country, but the entire world. Yes, it’s headed up by flighty, disorganized, and sometimes impractical people.

So what is any self-respecting Buddhist to do?


Samu is a Zen concept which basically means “work practice.” Growing your own produce is a perfect example of this, and is actually done in many zendos and temples. It cultivates awareness of other living beings, brings humanity in tune with the seasons, and generally provides time for mindful meditation. I am certain that the first parent who told a kid to go out and shovel snow off the sidewalk because it “builds character” was secretly a Zen master. Because you know what? Hard work actually does build character. Buddhist monks have known this for centuries. And productive, meticulous work which provides sustenance to yourself and your sangha (community) is priceless in Zen. Because showing compassion to someone encourages them to pay it forward.

I am trying to move towards an ecologically sustainable lifestyle of voluntary simplicity not only because it’s trendy right now or because I don’t want to pay exorbitantly high prices for veggies or because composting is fun, but because I genuinely believe it’s the “right” thing to do.

Time will only tell if this crisis will cause us to take a step back, reevaluate our technologies, and simplify our hectic lives, or whether it will break us.
In the meantime, I have a lot of digging to do. And here’s a suitable koan, or Buddhist parable, which pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject:

There was an old Zen farmer who had worked his allotment of land for decades. One day, his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to offer their condolences. “What terrible luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the Zen farmer replied. The next morning, the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful!” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the Zen farmer. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” the Zen farmer said.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Today's planting postponed...

On account of the fact that it is still ridiculously cold here right now. As in, it is still winter, and definitively NOT spring.

I realize to those of you in the northern climes that bitching about 40-ish degree weather is wimpy to y'all. After all, you guys are the ones waking up with *frozen walls* (I'm looking at you, Kristin.) But I'm from Alabama. You can go barefoot here all but three months out of the year, most of the time. We're home of the tank top and cut-off shorts.

We are also not a cold tolerant people. It seems like half of the casual conversations in early spring in Alabama involve the temperature and how abysmally cold it is outside...even if abysmally cold is only 45 degrees:

"Oh my gosh, I wish I had brought my real coat!" Because a) Most Alabamians are intensely hopeful that it will "warm up later in the morning"...and b) A lot of us only own one heavy coat because it's warm here most of the time.

"I thought it was supposed to warm up today!" = "I'm so cold I feel like my feet are going to fall off."

Today was one of those days. I am one of those Southerners that absolutely refuses to give in to the layering of winter - shunning (for the most part) scarves, hats, and even socks. (I wear those slip-on close-toed things.) The barefoot stereotype is there for a reason. We like being slouchy, comfortable and uninhibited. That's a lot of what being from the deep country is about.

But hopefully, it is getting into the seventies this weekend, so I will be able to plant then.

The rundown.

This is the list of vegetables/herbs I bought to plant in my teeny-tiny apartment garden. Feel free to laugh.

- Lettuce: Simpson Elite, Little Gem, Red & Green Romaine, Broadleaf Mix
- Mesclun (not mescaline, Art, which is totally different and entirely illegal): Spicy, Sweet, Regular
- Radishes: Easter Egg mix
- Beets: Golden, Detroit Red, Chicago Red
- Onions: Granex (Yellow Vidalia), scallions
- Potatoes: Catalina
- Carrots: White Satin, Purple Haze, Rainbow Blend
- Swiss chard: Bright Lights
- Squash (x7): Can't even remember the names...but I have zucchini, butternut, balmoral pansquash, spaghetti, crookneck, and several other kinds I can't think of off the top of my head...
- Tomatoes (x?): I have tie-dye colored tomatoes and yellow tomatoes and pink tomatoes and chocolate-colored tomatoes...Many. Let's just put it that way.
- Okra (I personally can't stand okra, but I know lots of people who like to eat it.)
- Peas (Black-eyed peas, English peas)
- Beans (Snap beans, purple running beans, bush beans)
- Eggplant (Lavender, Black Beauty)
- Hot peppers (more varieties and levels of heat than I know what to do with)
- Bell peppers (Green, yellow, orange, red, chocolate brown, purple...)
- Kohlrabi
- Spinach
- Herbs: Cilantro, Basil, Catnip, Chives, Lavender, Thyme, Dill, Tarragon, Oregano, etc...etc...etc...

On top of all this, I'm also trying for some tie-dye colored morning glories, some moon flowers, some zinnias, and other cutting flowers which I picked out of a catalog as being very pretty, but I don't know the names of any of them. But trust me - they're gorgeous.

So yeah. We'll see.

I'm practicing patience and perseverance - at least that's what I keep telling myself.

So, this weekend I went out and turned the cigarette butt-studded, dead-grass patch of clay behind my apartment into a real vegetable bed. I'm sure my neighbors now think I'm crazy, since I was out in the cold pulling up dead sod and putting down hen manure in my bright orange peace-sign pajama pants (I am sorely lacking in appropriate "get dirty" clothes...).

But the end result is a garden that I dug by hand - no rototiller, nothing but a shovel and a spade and a rake. I was sore all over the next day in muscles I didn't know I had or had used (heck, even my HAIR hurt) but the sense of accomplishment I feel every day when I go out to take the dog to the bathroom and look at my handiwork is enormous.

I've also come to realize that I have way, way, way more seeds than I will ever be able to plant in my own garden bed. There is no way I am going to be able to grow 7 kinds of squash, 11 kinds of pepper, and who knows how many kinds of tomatoes in the tiny garden I set up at my apartment.

I am in the process of talking my father around to the idea of helping me till a vegetable garden plot in his backyard (like we used to do every summer when I was a kid), and he's coming around for two reasons - a) He's a foodie who loves fresh vegetables to throw in his extravagant, delicious recipes, and b) I have pretty much sworn myself to landscaping slavery in order for him to give me this land to work.

"Just let me take care of it, and you can have all the free vegetables you want!" My exact words.

There was a minor setback yesterday though; I went to water/fertilize my herbs (which are growing wonderfully under the directional grow lights that my seedlings HATED) and my seedlings....were mysteriously gone. A few minutes later I found them ravaged and crushed into the carpet. I'm pretty sure I know who the fuzzy culprit is, but he was not punished to the extent that would have made ME feel better, because it was entirely my fault for putting the plants at floor level in the first place. Stupid me.

RIP Oriental Express and Lettuce Seedling Of Unknown Pedigree. You will be missed.

Oh well. Back to the drawing board.