March 8th is coming

This is the last day of February 2017. It is cold and rainy day, with thunder somewhere far away. But there is hope and there is a promise of spring, of renewal and of warmth. There is anticipation of colorful flowers and the dream of multitude of butterflies and the awakening songs of birds and it all is happening around us… Can you hear it? Do you fell it? Let us make this spring unforgettable!

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite holidays, which is March 8th also known as the international women’s day. I grew up in Belarus, where this holiday was a big deal. It is a celebration of spring, a hybrid of western holidays like mother’s day, valentine’s day. By that time of the year there were more sunny days and warm, the snow was melting, the birds were busily singing their praises to the coming spring. There was always anticipation and happiness associated with the coming of March 8th.

I loved this spring holiday from early childhood. The boys from school would give us small gifts and flowers, it was so awkward for them, but they were so cute and tried so hard to make us feel good. My mom always was excited to see what dad would give her. We exchanged gifts and cards of friendship with the closes girlfriends. I loved getting cards and I was so happy to see smiles or gratitude as my beloved friends would read the cards I gave them. On those cards were pictures and drawings of bright colored spring flowers, I have almost all of those card to this day! There was always sun, love and excitement on March 8th!

Friends, I know that each one of us has amazing women in our lives… Let us make this spring unforgettable for them! Let us remember one of those sweet friends we have not seen for years, let us make all women in our lives feel loved, beautiful and respected! Let us send cards to them, give them small gifts, call them, e-mail or ask them to a dinner or share a cut of hot beverage and a cake.

Let us make this spring special for someone! Happy March 8th to you all…wishing you warm and sunny spring, colorful dreams of flowers, many butterflies and birds in your gardens and cherished and beloved people in you life…health and happiness…


Straw Hat Girl



Garden plan 2017

Yes it is January. It is cold and the cloud cover is thick and permanent, it is a permacloud!

All this dreadful weather is no reason to despair (or at least that is what I am telling myself). The glossy, colorful seed catalogs are neatly staked on my book shelve next to my desk. Yes, you know exactly what I am talking about! Actually it is no more than a month before it is time to start your peppers and eggplants (in zone 6). I need to get going on the planning my 2017 garden.

Where to start? Garden planning software and garden outlines are abundant on the internet. I have not used this garden planner but it looks cute and has useful features, for example, it suggests to you when to plant your plants.  I am more of an analog person and I like to draw, so my previous garden plans were always neatly drawn on paper (and of course they are in color, because who does not like colorful pencils?). But what happens to this plans when I go to plant in the garden? I plant as I “see” it in the actual garden and not on the peace of paper. Because on the same spot where my neatly drawn plan said to plant a tomato, I see a gray-green leaves of a volunteer catnip plant, and my kitty could use more catnip, right? So I can’t plant the tomato there or can I? Do I move the catnip? But it looks good in here and it is already big and I may damage it’s tender roots…and the frustration begins to add up. So my garden plan always ends up being a total waste of time and energy or a very big frustration and stress. Done! I had enough! I am not doing to agonize about garden plan this year, I garden for fun, don’t I? Also this year I am eliminating or minimizing the areas of my life that cause me stress, and there is no way gardening should be on that list. No way!

In 2017 I am trying the following:

  • Write down the list of plants that I want to grow, taking into account how well they will grow (I promised my other half that I will stop trying to grow eggplants in our garden, because they do not do well at all). 2017 ascent is on pollinators – I will be planting a lot of flowers (mostly natives, but not all, because how can I have a summer without the colorful display of zinnias?)
  • Check my seed inventory, most likely I already have the seeds, if not, purchase them from local sources first (farmers market, ask friends) or wait for the local seed exchange. I am hoping to not be purchasing many seeds from other sources (who am I kidding, I will get some new zinnia colors from Backer Creek Heirloom Seeds and I saw some cool native flower mixes from Seed Savers Exchange)
  • Group the seeds by the dates when they need to be planted in the garden. Some seeds can be sown as soon as the soil can be worked. Other tender plants like a warm soil and need to be planted much later in the season, well after the last frost date. If you are not sure when that is for your area, check the USDA hardiness zones, that is a very good thing to know about your garden. Find your hardiness zone here USDA hardiness zones
  • A hard decision needs to be made soon. Am I going to start some seeds indoors? To grow or not to grow, that is the question! I may do rare onions and some flowers to get an earlier start on the harvest and the beauty. It will be very minimal this year, because every single year the plants that were seeded directly in the garden (or seeded themselves the previous year) outperform the once that were started indoors. Finally I am learning the lesson this year and will seed most things directly. The only problem is that it is so wet in the garden in the spring and I do not want to compact the soil by walking on it.

This is it! My plan is to have fun and dream and envision my garden this year. For some reason, even thinking about the words “garden plan” gives me stress and anxiety. I garden for fun, so fun I will have!

What are your garden planning techniques? What worked and what made you frustrated about the planning process? What do you do with your volunteers?



The snow is warming my soul

The silver snowflakes are covering the garden. It is night and all is dark, except the orange street light. The snow glimmers as it moves with the wind, it is a sight unlike anything else… it is snowing. My thoughts wonder, it is so quiet around me and very cold. All is still, all is dressed in a shinny blanket of snow.
I think about my plants under this cover of wonder, cover of silver and diamonds. This heavy snowfall comes at a great time, before the bitter cold. I think of the milkweeds for monarch butterflies, the gladiolus for the colorful display in the summer, the  sorrel for my delicious sorrel soup, I think of all the creatures big and small who will enjoy the beauty and the bounty. The plants will survive the cold under this magnificent blanket of fluffy snow. The snow warms my soul and I fall asleep, to dream of bright orange monarch butterflies as they fly and the colors and the aromas of the late summer in the meadow…