Archive for the 'Iowa' Category



Green Thumb Sunday: Prairiewoods sunrise, no. 3

Prairiewoods Sunrise 3

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in Green Thumb Sunday every week. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Green Thumb Sunday: Prairiewoods sunrise, no. 2

Prairiewoods Sunrise 2

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in Green Thumb Sunday every week. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Never according to plan

Not that I think all my readers set up a special calendar just to track my comings and goings (And, I might add, if you do, there is something wrong with you and you should get help immediately.) (Why are you still reading? Go get help!), but 50 minutes ago, I was supposed to be settling into my seat at the Kitchen Garden workshop, the first of the day at the Winter Gardening Fair.

Instead, I’m settled in at a coffee shop in Coralville, waiting out an inadvertent snowstorm.

I should not be surprised. This has been the snowiest winter since I arrived in Iowa, and I have been amazed at how my body has finally adjusted—when my car starts sliding on a road, instead of breaking out in a cold sweat and beginning to whimper, I stay relaxed and just let out a steady stream of words that would wilt a tomato plant.

I consider this progress.

So this morning, I got up with plans to get out of the house in plenty of time. Plenty of time, that is, for a dry and cold morning, which is what the weather forecasts all said it would be. There was a 30 percent chance of scattered light snow in the forecast, which, in my interpretation, is significantly different from the reality forecast, which goes something like this:

When you arrive at your car, you will have to brush two inches of snow off it, but the windshield will already be covered with a thin layer by the time you get all the way around the car because it is snowing so hard, and then you’re going to have about a 72.8 percent chance of your feet sliding out from under you because the snow is on top of a thin layer of ice oh yeah oh yeah, and even the trucks out on I-80 are going to be driving 45 mph because the roads are allegedly partly covered but more like mostly to completely covered and why are you even outside, Genie, why, oh why?

That is the forecast I would have liked to have read. I clearly need to find a new weather web site.

I did give it the college try. I got out on the highway, and felt fairly comfortable out there, cruising along at 43 mph, following a four-wheel-drive vehicle that was going fairly slowly, at peace with the fact that I was not going to make it to Kirkwood in time to make the first session, when suddenly it occurred to me that it was snowing even harder, that I couldn’t even really see out there, and that if I woke up on a weekday and the world outside looked like this, I would email my office and tell them I was working from home.

And thusly and therefore, it made not a single lick of sense that I was risking my car, life and limb (although I’ve never been able to figure out why you need your limb if you don’t have your life) to drive to a garden fair in weather that would ordinarily keep me from even opening my front door. And then it occurred to me that there was a chance the garden fair might even be delayed or canceled (according to my sources, which I have checked since getting my coffee, it is not, but that is neither here nor there), and I would feel even more stupid if I arrived and was the only idiot to show up in the snow. And then there it was. An exit. With easy access to a coffee shop.

So I got off the highway. And I’m thinking, now that this is the second year in a row that winter has given me the No-Garden-Fair-For-You smackdown, perhaps I should learn to leave well enough alone and quit registering for this thing.

UPDATE: Snow stopped. Roads cleared. I’m currently sitting at the Garden Fair learning about birds and butterflies with Prairie Robin. Rock on.

Green Thumb Sunday: Prairiewoods sunrise, no. 1

Prairiewoods Sunrise No. 1

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in Green Thumb Sunday every week. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

It’s your turn to tell the Inadvertent Gardener what to do!

So last year, I decided to spend a February Saturday at a gardening fair. That’s how I roll, you know, as the Inadvertent Gardener. Rocking out the winter Saturdays learning about staking flowers and planning herb garden layouts.

Except it was far too wintry a Saturday that particular day, and the fair was cancelled, leaving me bereft of opportunities to learn more about bees and composting.

This year, the Iowa State Extension Service is trying again, offering the Winter Gardening Fair 2008 on February 2. I’m planning to go, although I have not yet registered.

I have friends who have known me long enough to be shaking their heads right now. I am an incorrigible planner, that girl who buys the tickets to shows and events and plays and concerts before anyone else even looks at their calendar book, that girl who is most likely to say, “Sure, I’d love to, but I’m going to see B.B. King that night and I bought the tickets in 1994, so I can’t possibly change my plans.”

You may ask, then, why I haven’t registered? Well, part of it’s because I haven’t been able to narrow down what sessions I want to attend. Here’s the day I’m considering so far:

Session 1:
The Kitchen Garden

Including vegetables, flowers, and herbs, LCMG Ellen Skripsky will explore raised garden beds, vertical growing, and successive planting as space-saving techniques.

It should be obvious from my various recipes why I want to attend this one. Also, I definitely need to do a significantly better job with successive planting, so I can definitely pick up some tips here.

Session 2:
This is where I run into problems. I’m debating between the following three sessions:

Starting Garden Transplants
LCMG Zora Ronan will show us how to successfully start our own garden transplants from seed at home.

I haven’t tried any seed starting yet, but probably need to give it a whirl. I suspect this session would help demystify the process for me so I might feel brave enough to try it this year. That being said, I refuse to invest in grow-lights. I mean, I refuse to invest in them this year. This is not a sickness, people.

Summer Flowering Bulbs
Learn about summer flowering bulbs and their care with LCMG Ian Philpott. Examples are allium, calla, lily, canna, dahlia, and gladiolus. Learn how to lift bulbs, corms, and tubers and store for the winter.

Since I did so poorly with bulbs last year, it occurs to me that it might be nice to actually learn what I’m doing this year.

Peonies
Peonies were the queens of Grandma’s spring garden. Join Linn County Master Gardener Lu Barron and find out what’s new in herbaceous and tree peonies as well as how to plant and care for them.

I have come to love peonies. That’s all there is to say about that.

Session 3:
The Good, the Bad, and the Buggly
Dr. Donald Lewis, ISU Extension Entomology Specialist, will provide us with information to help us identify and manage those garden bugs that attack our gardens.

How can anyone go wrong with a session titled The Good, The Bad, and the Buggly? It’s so punny, folks! Plus, as I’ve said before, I’m a little bit obsessed with garden bugs, even though the ones in the house still freak me out.

So, here’s the thing. I need to send in my registration fairly soon, but I’m willing to wait a bit. Why? Because I’m going to let you, my fair and lovely blog readers, decide my future. My future, that is, when it comes to Session 2. Place your vote (and, if you so choose, your rationale…) in the comments and let me know what you think. I’ll go with a simple majority rule on this one.

And, just to make things more interesting, I’ll let you switch your vote one time in the process, just in case you’ve already voted and someone else comes up with a better rationale for why I should attend a different class during that session. That way, it’ll be that much more like the Iowa Caucuses. It is election season, after all!


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All words and images (unless otherwise credited) on The Inadvertent Gardener are © 2006-2008 Eugenia E. Gratto. All rights reserved.

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