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(post, Kathleen Bauer)
Sometimes there's a pony or a shiny bike under the Christmas tree, and sometimes you get socks instead. Expectations are like that and, as hard as I try to cultivate that "comme ci comme ça" attitude, the fact that last year our tomato plants looked like survivors of a nuclear blast (and produced about as well) was, frankly, a big disappointment. And knowing that even the pros, and I mean some large-scale farmers, here in the valley had an equally crappy season didn't make me feel any better. I mean, I wanted my heirloom tomato salad to be made from my heirloom tomatoes. Is that too much to ask? (The answer, apparently, was "Yes.") But because home gardeners are an optimistic, some would say delusional, lot, this year, dang it, is going to be different. This last weekend we hopped in the truck and drove to our neighborhood garden center, picked up some seeds and soil amendments and got to work. Within a couple of hours Dave's most excellent raised beds (in their third year and sturdy as ever, thank you) were weeded, amended and planted with what, I hope, will be a productive and delicious crop of: Carrots (Parmex) - an orange variety from Nichols Garden Nursery; 1 row Carrots (Atomic Red) - red, Nichols Garden Nursery; 1 row Carrots (Purple Haze) - purple (is that cool or what?), Nichols Garden Nursery; 1 row Radishes (Crimson Ladyfinger) - New Dimension Seed; 2 rows Mesclun Salad Mix - Seeds of Change; 3 rows Arugula (Apollo) - Seed Savers Exchange; 2 rows Snap peas (Sweet Xing) - New Dimension Seed; 2 rows Chard - three volunteers from last year * Rhubarb - a cutting from my pal Lindsey The rest of the story is that the hedge of arbor vitae that has loomed over the boxes but has screened our back yard "dining room" is going to be torn out with plans to replace it with an espaliered black mission fig. And the ash tree in the parking strip that is buckling the sidewalk and, worst of all, shading the boxes for a few hours a day, is going to come out this year. I'm hoping to do (mercifully short) weekly reports on the progress of all these grand schemes, and I'd love to know what you're up to in your gardens this year in your part of the world. So let's start talking!