Saturday, January 24, 2015

Warm and Fuzzy

Later on, my feet will hurt and my shoulders will ache. Later on, there will be weeds and bugs and sweat and worry and deadlines. But on this January day, the sun is shining, the wind is light, and the season is new. It is just like the first day of spring training when hope springs unbidden in the heart of fans everywhere. This....this will be the year.....that all the pots will arrive on time...that no trucker will follow his GPS and get stuck in the mud of 150th west of Highway 59.....that it won't freeze or snow on May 3rd...
Winter is the time to build (two new bays on the gutter connect house); to repair (fan belts, stovepipe, electrical this and that); and to re-cover (still working on that...three more greenhouses to go). Winter is the time to call on old customers and try to find new ones, to order seed and cuttings and plan, plan, plan. But winter ceased on Sunday when the first heaters were lit and Monday when the first pots were filled. Tuesday Kevin, our trusty FedEx driver, made the first of countless drops of boxes in the office.
It may be January, but at Hurst Greenery, it is officially spring 2015.
We unboxed 400 ferns yesterday. It takes a long time to fill out a fern basket when you grow as far north as we live. Ferns may be happy in the shade during our hot summers, but they tend to sit and wait and do nothing during the cold dark days of winter. For several years we got the ferns in December to give them an extra month to grow, but it was a waste of time and propane. The plants sulked; nothing grew in the pots but moss. We try to fool the ferns with supplemental lighting, but there is no substitute for the longer days after winter solstice.

Geraniums also benefit from additional light. We root our own geranium cuttings for several reasons: 1)to save money on shipping for the large quantity of cuttings we order and 2) to have that nice big rootball established when the geraniums are transplanted into bigger pots and hanging baskets. Geraniums may not be the earliest bloomers in the greenhouse, but they are poster children for flower power. It takes lots of space, lots of fertilizer, and lots of grooming to grow the beauty queens we send off in April.

I have always enjoyed rooting cuttings and still get lots of pleasure when the first  white roots poke through the bottom of the cell pack. A week or two after sticking the cuttings it is difficult not to "peek" and pull the cuttings up to look for new roots. To speed the process, we run a fog machine like you see on the sidelines of a football game to increase the humidity when the cuttings are first planted; a bright day even in January will make the rootless leaves and stems wilt down alarmingly.

And this is what 3000 red geranium cuttings look like just planted. These cuttings were shipped to us from Mexico. Tomorrow Lee and I will plant 4000 more cuttings purchased from another supplier and harvested in Guatemala. The cuttings are bagged by variety and packed to keep cool....not warm! We rarely receive frozen plants even in the depths of winter, but we worry about shipping and are thankful for weeks of moderate weather like we have enjoyed recently.

We've had company in the greenhouse this week. The puppies reduce our productivity, but they sure are cute!
Gabe and Popeye

Abbie and Gibbs
From geranium cuttings to puppies, this year's greenhouse season is starting out warm and fuzzy!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Calendar Girl

There's a big orange box on my front table.  
It holds the future.

Open it...and you'll find 2015.

Our 2015...birthdays, anniversaries, holidays both major and minor.
Highlights gleaned from the thousands of photographs taken in 2014.  

It took me more than a week to work my way through the scroll of people, places and things that is my Google plus, collecting a birthday cake here, some fireworks there, a bouquet of sporting events and more family get togethers than can be counted.

 I finally stopped when:
1) Shutterfly made a sale offer I couldn't resist for the twelve calendars required..and
2)  my selections exceeded the 500 pictures it is theoretically possible to include in twelve months of daily photos.  

Why be content with Twelve Days of Christmas when you can celebrate all twenty four before and continue right up to New Year's Eve? 
How can I pick and choose between Levi digging in some dirt in June and Lizzie turning a cartwheel in May? An arabesque by Abbie, some intense concentration by Aaron....

....... Gabe's poolside acrobatics....

and an entire month's worth of physiognomy by Joshua Blake.

 Making a calendar is a great way to assess the past and anticipate the future.  Like the sun dial in my garden, it counts 'only sunny hours'.  Storm clouds, skinned knees, disappointment and loss; none of these have their day of the week in my 2015, even though we realize they are certain to follow us from 2014 into this new year.
 Our baseball games are red letter days. 

 We not only celebrate Kenzie's birthday on February 19, but the arrival of pitchers and catchers at spring training. May Day sprouts impatiens

 and Holy Week is celebrated by glorious daffodils, a rainbow of dyed eggs and the little children our Savior loves.

Lizzie wields the jobbers on Arbor Day

...even though she's digging a post hole and not planting a tree. Independence Day 2014 was commemorated by four photographers...and more than 700 pictures!  Tell me we don't throw a Fourth of July extravaganza!

Here is our treasure; this is what we hold dear.  Here are the coins we stack up against those rainy days and Mondays that will pop up on our calendar from time to time.  Here is our blast from the past, our time machine: Hey! Remember this!  A marshmallow, a party dress, a barbeque....a black cow.
Lest we forget....

No wonder I love the TimeHop app; my calendar is the analog version.  It is my year-to-year comparison, a balance sheet counted in  the currency of photos.  By that measure, I'm rich. If every day with a photo is a day to celebrate, call me a party animal.   If my photo album exceeds my allotted daily requirement of calendar days, my cup overfloweth.

 Maybe "eight days in a week"?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Warm Up from the Frozen North

The Cardinals are coming! The Cardinals are coming! 

Before these particular Birds migrate to the South, they'll be making a stop to grant solace and hope to the frigid but faithful fans across the frozen hills of Missouri.  Fortunately, one of these stops will be the Missouri Farm Bureau building...a week from Friday on January 16.  Judging from the crowd  of red clad fans waiting their turn to go in at last year's Cardinal Caravan, I'm not alone in my desire to experience a Winter Warm Up, to dream of blue skies and humidity, to set aside January and mark off the days until April.
Lucky me!  I unwrapped my own personal Winter Warm Up in the mail right before Christmas! In the midst of Christmas cookie baking, I found a single box wrapped with brown paper and festive Christmas tape on my front porch as if Santa's elves had knocked on my door and then scampered away giggling.  My daughter hovered over the package as I pulled out one delight after another, all seemingly chosen to warm me from the inside out.  

And not to wonder why!  My package came from Katie Pinke, from even more frozen North Dakota !  There was homemade jam and sauce and spice for barbeque (warm), seasonal lotion and shower gel for a steaming bath (warmer), and a pottery mug to drink my Norwegian Blend coffee (toasty!tasty!).  Creature comforts aside, I love the plaque Kat sent me: I have hung it in my kitchen by the back door where I see every going out and every coming in.(very warmest of all!)
 I knew of  Katie before getting this chance to "meet"her online.  Her photos of the North Dakota prairies that are her  home ground are achingly lovely.  When I post a winter shot of northwest Missouri, this is what happens:

So...go check out Katie's pictures and decide what YOU'D rather call home!

Thanks to all the hosts for doing all the work so we could have all the fun!  May we all find inspiration from our homes, farms, and friends....and all be spared writers'block this New Year...