by Curt Kovener
Cold weather greeted us for a less than happy new year. But despite the Arctic weather outside, Miz Mary has been in the height of her glory since before Christmas.
No, she didn’t discover where I hid the presents and took a pre-holiday peek. Since before Christmas the seed and gardening catalogs have been arriving and she has been busy planning, contemplating and conspiring for this year’s gardens.
For some unexplained reason, the seed catalogs end up in the magazine rack in the bathroom. I will leave it up to you to deduce how and why.
Miz Mary is the gardener of the family for vegetables, flowers, herbs and all things horticultural. But I often peruse the latest seed catalogs while contemplating life from the porcelain throne room.
Gardens Alive is a organic garden catalog which can supply you with bugs to eat the bugs that are bugging you and companion plants to keep other bugs at bay.
One of their offerings is 900 Ladybugs for $19.95. Shucks, if I’d known about the commodity pricing for ladybugs I could have bottled up the crop I vacuumed in the house, office & wilderness retreat and paid for Christmas.
But I was interested in their bat houses. I want to try to build several for the wilderness. Did you know that a bat eats 600-1,000 insects an hour and daily eats its weight in bugs every night? A friendly family of bats can eat a whopping number of mosquitoes & gnats.
One of her more interesting catalogs is from the Vermont Bean Seed Company. While it has some magazine slick, full color pages of flowers and vegetables, the part I like are the inside pages, printed on newsprint with old-timey woodcut-like pictures. It puts you in the mind of the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Each page is filled with long descriptions of their vegetables offered. And the word pictures they conjure in the mind is far more vivid than any color computer enhanced offering on the magazine slick pages.
For instance “White Dutch Runner Pole Bean. One of the grandest of the pole beans. This all-purpose bean is good any way you eat it and each plant produces masses of them. Pick when 6” long for snap beans. For meatier taste, pick when 12” long, or later as a shell bean or a baking bean. Its white flowers also attract hummingbirds. Grows to over 10 feet tall.”
Wow! Forget about the cold temperatures outside. Can’t you just see a hot summer day with those large green pyramids of beans up to a foot long being buzzed and pollinated by tiny hummers?
Then there’s the Burpee catalog. A bit more high-tech than the previous two. You can browse their on-line catalog at www.burpee.com. Convenient, but just doesn’t develop the same mood as paging through their vegetable and floral offerings on a cold winter day.
I am not the only one who would like to have a garden up at the wilderness retreat, so would the raccoons, rabbits and deer. Most farms have fences to contain animals. I think I may need to build a tall one to keep the critters out.
So far I have settled for some patio type gardening on the back deck…which, by the way does have gates and fencing but to keep Charley contained.