Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Warm Spell in January

On Monday I saw the first honeybees of the year. It was 10 degrees at noon and the bees were checking our the flowers at two different florists. I felt sorry for the girls because it was slim pickings for pollen and nectar. One bee had ivory pollen on her hind legs, which may have come from the heather which is blooming. The sweet box is very fragrant these days and some of the the hellebores are blooming as well.

I am well on my way to ordering seeds for the new year. I'm very excited about trying some different kinds of poppies and zinnias and I've discovered some really interesting varieties of nigella to grow. If you are into flowers, I suggest two seed companies: Beauty Beyond Belief, which is based in the States has a good variety of wild flowers. I have had good service from the company. You can subscribe to their newsletter to keep tabs on their sales. Now that the Canadian dollar has dropped, it's also good value to order seeds from companies in Canada and I'm very excited about the flower seed offerings in William Dam Seeds based in Ontario. This is also a great time to order seeds for flowers, herbs and heirloom vegetables from my personal favorite, Salt Spring Seeds. As Dan Jason grows most of the seeds this is a good time of the year to order before the gardening season begins and Dan gets busy in the fields.

Keep your eyes on those snowdrops and crocuses because they'll be up and blooming before you know it!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Permission to Dream

I have been writing this blog for a few years now, with the aim to record a seasonal diary or saijiki. As the flowers and trees begin to bloom in 2015, I am renewing my commitment to record the dates and order in which they appear. I will label these posts as time sensitive as I attempt to become even more sensitized to the passage of time as it cycles through the seasons here in Vancouver British Columbia. The hazel catkins have been out for at least a week now, and the sweet box has just begun to assert its signature sweet scent.

It has been a mild winter so far here, but strangely enough, I have had one of my worst years of experienced SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just when I think I have licked it, and climbed above the clouds it paralyzes me with a kind of frozen numbness. It just occurred to me this morning as I lay in bed trying to use visual exercises to get dissolve the grey fug that this year, the sadness of winter has been mingled with grief over the loss of my aunt. Grief is complicated. It shines a light into the vulnerable corners of your humanity that you would rather keep hidden and protected. Just when you think it has been carefully stored away in a compartment in your psyche, their is a leak, and grief seeps into your morning tea.

I am really trying to use January to dream of gardens. As the seed catalogues come into my mailbox, I see the peas, beans and flowers rich with color, pollen and nectar that will nourish my family and our beloved bees. More than ever, I wish we could have the expansive space of my childhood garden to grow a sunflower forest like my mom did. This is the first year she will not plant a garden, since my parents have moved to an apartment, and I mourn the loss of that tradition. I find myself adopting my aunts' and cousins' gardens, sending them seed catalogues and sunflower seeds, trying to keep the dream and the sunflower forest blooming.

Today I'd also like you to check out a seed company based in Vermont called High Mowing Organic Seeds. I just got their e-newsletter in my mail, and found it lyrical and inspiring.

Here is an excerpt from their January 2015 Newsletter:

"As blustery winds sweep over the landscape and temperatures take a nosedive, we keep warm here in northern Vermont by cozying up to our woodstoves and dreaming of spring. While there is little sign of it beyond the lengthening days, there is something undeniably pleasant about the dreaming season – the weather is bitter, outdoor chores are at a minimum, and we can feel justified in running unfettered in the gardens taking shape in our minds. We wrap ourselves in expansive ideas and plans for warmer weather at a time when we are bound to the indoors by snow and cold, taking comfort in the promise that our pollinator gardens will bloom, our cover crops will nourish the soil and our vegetables will build a healthy food system from the ground up."

Please support our safe seed growers and give yourself permission to dream of bigger gardens.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Sweet New Year

Happiness is a new seed catalogue, a cup of tea and a duo of chocolate-covered caramels garnished with fleur de sel.

This is the new 2015 catalogue from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. It is gorgeous! Be sure to check out West Coast Seeds new catalogue. It's the best one ever and there are symbols beside plants that support bees. Both catalogues are committed to offering GMO-free seeds.

 Add some heat to your sweet this year by infusing honey with dried chilies. It's the hot new culinary trend.

Start a honey library with beautiful jars of local honey, like this one from Armstrong Apiaries with its vintage-inspired label.

Have a sweet, hot, salty, seedy New Year!