Tuesday, April 21, 2020

free seeds

Years ago, a friend had a wooden bird feeder in the shape of a tray labelled "Free Seeds!" held by a cheerful cat. I thought of it last week when I was moving my bird feeders away from the spot where I've been enjoying them right next to my "working window," and into the small fenced-off Bird Safety Zone. In Winter, the spot by my window provided good protection from hawks amongst the hundreds of twiggy stems of Kerria japonica. But now that plants are just beginning to leaf out and the cats are spending many hours outdoors, the same shrubby quality of the Kerria becomes a liability to the birds, who may not see the cats coming. So, I've got the binocs out again and will be watching the feeders from a bit farther away.

long-distance action shot!

I still have two tiny suction-cup feeders stuck to porch windows, but only the boldest birds use them, and they are difficult to clean and fill, so they may soon come down in favor of window screens. But first I'm going to see if most of the birds will become comfortable using the feeders in the Safety Zone. With the trees not yet leafed out, that area probably feels dangerously exposed and many of the birds seem reluctant to make the transition. Time will tell.

We've had some interesting weather fluctuations lately.


Podophyllum peltatum - Mayapple

Sanguinaria canadensis - Bloodroot

And this afternoon it's raining. Heavily. Again.
Moxie, the gardening cat, has been helping me take down the yarn bean trellis and salvage the yarn for reuse this year, but we won't be doing more garden work today.

It seems a great many people who don't usually garden are planning to grow vegetables this year, which is great - I'm very happy to think more people are going to have their hands in soil and experience the thrill-ride that is gardening. But this unexpected increase in gardeners also means seed companies have been overwhelmed with orders and many have already sold out of some stock. Luckily, I already have most of my seed, saved from last year. But there are always a few special seeds or plants to order,  and even a month ago I was having trouble finding them. So my 2020 Gardens may be different from what I had planned, but that's fine - and in a way, it could be said every year.

One thing I will certainly plant this year is Candy Roaster squash.

Portrait: on the vine

In recent years I've experimented with planting Candy Roasters in various locations, in raised beds, in hills, amongst corn rows, and on arched stockpanel trellis. I liked the arches, and if I can manage to construct them, will add more this year.

Candy Roaster arch, 2019

"Free Seeds!" I have plenty of seed from my organically-grown 2019 Candy Roasters, and will be glad to send some to anyone who would like to plant them. Whether you are an Old Hand or a Brand New gardener, if you've got room for massive vines and a way to provide water in a dry season, why not give it a go? It's a winter squash, and needs to stay on the vine until Autumn frosts force a decision to bring them in, but then they keep for months and are excellent for baking, roasting (or course), soups, "pumpkin" pies or breads, all sorts of things.

So, if you would like some Candy Roaster seeds, drop me an email with your mailing address and I'll send some along. Don't be shy! I'd love to introduce more people to this squash, which I learned about several years ago from my blog-pal Tipper, over at Blind Pig and the Acorn. Forever grateful, Tipper!