Monday, April 9, 2012

A Photo Journal of My Spring Break: a Garden and Egg Obsession

I have already shown you the faux stone duck eggs I dyed for Easter, and your well-feigned enthusiasm toward these has inspired me to show you more of the weird things that I spent my spring break doing, rather than writing for you. (At least after I had recovered from the Ebola.) This will bother my teenager because he says that he doesn't want any of his friends "to know that we are hippies." Hopefully, then, none of them read this blog.

The day after I had dyed all the other eggs using smelly vegetable matter, I was getting ready to make good on my promise to dye some more with the kids. Having not purchased a PAAS dye kit, I realized though, that I lacked one of those wire egg holders for dipping eggs in the dye. This lead me to Google in search of a solution to my egg-holding problem. There, I accidentally discovered that I could do something much, much  cooler. My kids had friends over again, so I went into he living room and said to two teenage boys,

"I have a scheme for dyeing eggs using flowers and pantyhose. You are going to love it!"

The boys looked at one another with an expression of stifled mockery and continued silently eating banana muffins. However the eggs, which I did mostly on my own, with limited interest from my own children and one sweet young girl who was there to play with my youngest, were super-cool.

In addition to dyeing eggs, which one might easily assume took almost my whole spring break in and of itself,  I started several gardens. Here is the short story on those. If you don't care about gardening, you should skip this part. It will bore you to death.

We planted Adirondack blue and Yukon Gold potatoes into straw bales. To do this, you wet down the straw bales thoroughly, and then dig holes straight down to the ground and fill them with compost, into which we planted the seed potatoes. I very much hope they will grow because I cut and dried the potatoes way earlier than I was supposed to, when I saw that they were rotting in the bag and making my kitchen smell like dead cats. I suppose if they don't show growth soon, I will buy some starts, if I can get them, and replace the shriveled seed potatoes with those.

This raspberry bed has been sitting over winter, stewing compost and pine needles, getting ready to be planted.  It is just downhill from a duck pond so that I can take advantage of run-off. These particular berries are summer-bearing Lathams. Our native soil is alkaline, and so I hope the compost and pine will help acidify it enough for the berries.

I planted twelve ever-bearing strawberries in a 4 x 4 space by my front door, which will be much too hot for them this summer unless I do something. There is still danger of frost here until May 19–in fact, it snowed just five days ago–so I am covering these with a frost blanket every night. It's an experiment. Also, just behind this bed you can see our clean-out, so, in the event that our drain is irrevocably clogged, a sickening morass of sewage and Drano will enter this berry bed and render it a toxic waste area. My hope is that this will not happen.

Here is where I planted out snow peas in my east-facing garden bed. I also started lettuce and purple kohlrabi seeds. I still need to get my radishes, calendula, cabbages, carrots, and spinach in the ground, too. Truth be told, I am having a hard time nailing down planting dates. Mother Earth News gives me one set, Farmers Almanac another, my southwest permaculture book another, and locals I talk to are all over the map. At least, growing from seed this year, I am not spending a great deal on plants, so I can experiment and learn what is too early. Not that I won't be homicidally angry about any failures.

I still need to start seeds inside to be planted after all danger of frost has passed: small watermelons, pumpkins, delicata squash, lemon cucumber, strawberry popcorn, purple tomatillo. I already have three varieties of tomato resting on my windowsill, preparing themselves for the moment it will be safe to venture outside enshrouded by walls of water.

The neighbor who lives in the other half of our duplex had donated two raised beds in the front of his house to our cause. With a southwest exposure, they should be perfect for the cucumbers, tomato, tomatillos and herbs. Hours of labor removed hopefully all (or enough) of the root systems of weedy yarrow, clumps of grass, and dandelion with roots driven into the soil like inoperable tumors. We sifted rocks using an old screen door, turned in compost and laid straw on top to discourage neighborhood cats from viewing our beds as "pimped out litter pans." (I have to credit Rowan with that moniker.) This was the point at which my children, who had been forced to labor all day pulling weeds and moving compost, starting saying "permaculture" the way that one normally says "dog turds."

I am dying to tell you about the plans for my three sisters garden bed and more straw bale raised beds for the melons and squash, but I will wait until there is something interesting that I can take a picture of.

On Easter, we had some good friends over for dinner and served the duck we had slaughtered last fall, after finding him injured in our backyard.  He was huge when he was alive–by far the biggest duck in our yard, but by the time we had slow cooked him, stuffed with onions, apple and thyme, he turned out to have been anorexic. There was hardly any meat on him at all, and it was a very good thing that I also had cooked ham. It really makes me wonder about the poultry I buy at the supermarket and what it actually looked like as a living beast, if that giant, oafish duck amounted to only a couple of slivers of brown meat.

I guess this whole thing does make me sound like something of a hippie, but I want you to know that during our Easter dinner, my hyperactive male children were running around with our guests, engaged in pitched Nerf battles on a 16 foot trampoline, the part of my earth mother sensibilities that involve peace, love and wooden toys having been beaten to death many long years before.

I hope that you too had a spring break (if you got a break) filled with the sort of bizarre adventures that make good blogging material. I will try to write an actual post at some point in the near future, since there are no more eggs to dye.

Here is Mikalh hunting for Easter eggs on the pretty side of my front lawn, while his big brothers look on.


  1. You sure are resourceful!! I am impressed. Your eggs looked really cool.


  2. The flower and pantyhose eggs are even better than the brown ones! Oh how I want to come and drink gallons of coffee and talk about writing and dye eggs and plant things.

  3. More awesome eggs. Too bad you can't keep them for decorations.
    Also, you are a gardening guru. I have a tiny, 4x4 spot that my husband cut out of our lawn where I (attempt) to grow tomatoes and peppers. I wish I had a greener thumb.

  4. I love the eggs - made me want to actually dye eggs sometime.

    "laid straw on top to discourage neighborhood cats from viewing our beds as "pimped out litter pans." - wait, does that work?! There's a spot by our front door that Hubs said this afternoon "oh god, it smells like piss right here." Not what I want guests to think as they enter our home. Dangit. Maybe we should just make 'em come in through the garage like normal people.


When you comment, it keeps fairies alive.

Don't forget to choose "subscribe by email" to receive follow-up comments. I almost always reply to comments, and you wouldn't want to miss that. It's all part of saving the fairies.

My Zimbio
Creative Commons License
Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License