28 February 2011

Anticipating some return on investment

I dreamed last night of being at the beach with various members of the extended clan, admiring the sea at twilight and eating ice cream. This happy inactivity was disrupted by a rogue wave, several stories tall, that crashed down upon us. No one was injured and nothing was damaged (except, perhaps, the ice cream) but we were all waist-deep in water.

I woke up a moment or so later to two anxious cats and the sound of driving rain against the bedroom window. There is probably a point to be made here about how the dreaming mind processes intrusions from the waking world but the more practical upshot is that I'm groggy from disrupted sleep, and have a lingering desire for soft-serve.

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It is not quite time for serious gardening to start, though like all members of my tribe I am eager to be back outside with rake and spade in hand. I want to smell warming earth and green things, and I have a pound of white clover seeds that I am eager to sow over the bare and patchy areas of my 'lawn' and get out of my limited storage space.

I did start some seeds indoors this weekend: 'Sungold' tomatoes, common rue, Malva sylvestris, and about 5 seeds from a larger stash of medlar seeds.

The mallow, like the rue, is part of the ongoing rummaging around in historic cookery. So too are the medlars, really, but the story of the medlar seeds is not mine to tell. I hope it will be told at some point; it has all the elements of a good folktale or possibly a Child ballad -- a persistent hero! a bishop's gardener! poachers! a tree with a mind of its own! -- and ends, at least for the present, with a box of seeds packed in damp peat moss and stuffed in the back of my refrigerator.

Advice on medlar culture is scanty; the two theories of starting them from seeds are 'plant them in the fall and they'll come up the next spring' and 'they can take up to two years to germinate, start with a grafted plant instead.' Cold stratification seems to be recommended but how much is not so clear. Once you get the trees going they seem to be hardy and long-lived, so the trouble may be worth it.

These 5 were cold stratified for 52 days and then soaked in a liquid seaweed solution for 24 hours before being planted in a peat moss and vermiculite mix. The remaining seeds are still in the fridge (i.e., still in cold stratification). In a month or so I might pull out another 5 and start them.


Louise Gl├╝ck

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