Originally published at Women Not Dabbling by Gina
The big day after Christmas, I wandered down to the mailbox. The box was packed brim to the gills with the 2009 season’s seed catalogs. I excitedly gathered them up and ran back up to the house. ’Tis the season I’ve been waiting for since the first dark night of winter.
Now you may or may not have noticed here at the Dabbling blog, but we actually have structured weeks. One week is dedicated to food, another house and farm, one revolves around garden…this is not that week. If you haven’t noticed this pattern just chalk it up to us being a bunch of undisciplined abnormals who have a really hard time sticking to a syllabus. (Fortunately, we are quite flexible here!) Or maybe it’s just that most of our topics can easily fit into any of the broader categories.
This week, or the ’fifth” week of the month, we have declared to be craft week. This is not a good week for someone so incredibly uncrafty as myself (I covered this already!) I like to think I am okay in the food department and fair to good in the gardening and homesteading department, but that I come up empty in the craft department. So I have decided to think a little crafty in my own way which means I will be sneaking in a little seed and plant porn instead.
This time of the year I am full of thoughts about my upcoming goals. I am looking at my calendar, counting the days until I start seeds again. I am grateful for the returning sun. I write and draw up plans for the garden space and ponder what I want to plant and hopefully harvest. The other thing that floats between the garden rows in my mind is the fact I want to simplify my life…more. This means I will once again resolve not to spend, be thrifty, Reduce & Reuse, simplify, tread lightly, lower my carbon footprint, moe self-sfficiency…on and on. My general goals have been the same since about Y2K!
Last night I was looking through a few of the new catalogs and thinking about my mother’s birthday which is in a few short weeks. I want to make her something, but I have that problem with not even being able to cut cloth straight let alone sew it (this is on my skill goal list for 2009). Suddenly, my brain thoughts collided with what my eyes were looking at on the page in front of me: gourds! One of the varieties I spied was called a “snake gourd” and it literally looks like a coiled, twisty snake. How cool (remind me to tell you the story of my mom and the western garter snake I caught her at 13 someday)! Smiling, I put a little X next to it and added it to the seed list.
Do you make this same goal as me at the New Year? The one that claims you are going to handcraft all your gifts this year?
Well, if you are still learning how to be crafty (like me) or you are too busy to do totally homemade (like me) or lack talent in this area (like me) here are just a small sampling of simple gift ideas that I came up with straight out of one the seed catalogs:
*Think Outside the Typical Jam Box
- Ground cherries
- Sour cherries
- Edible Flowers
- Fig tree
Spices & Herbs
- Lemon grass
- Peach Wine
Wait a minute, I can’t plant a tree, harvest fruit and make jam by the end of the year. No, you’re right, however, thinking about future gifts from the garden will allow the time needed to get that tree to a point that it is fruiting and eventually the gift you dreamed up now just may become a tradition to give years down the road. Some, provided we are all blessed with a good growing season, you will be able to gift next winter if you plant them this spring. Many require a long growing season, so starting seeds early will really help out (e.g. some of the gourds are 120 days or more).
I have already penciled in some possible locations around my place for a kiwi vine and some of the gourds (also vines). If you are growing in a small space (or even a larger space that happens to also house livestock, thus making it a small space), think permaculturally. Where can I squeeze in a gift-bearing vine that is atypical to the rest of the garden. I bet you can find room (a shed wall, behind the garage, on a fence…). Think horizontally and go for one of the birdhouse gourd vines. I am also planting ground cherries to can for my mother-in-law who search high and lo at the farmers’ market this year and finally bought 1 pint for $8. They are easy to grow!
Despite the fact holiday fatigue set in a week ago for me, I am actually excited about my next year’s (or two or three) gifts. This New Year, I am once again looking at my goal to give all homemade gifts, however, I am challenging myself even further: I plan to grow most of the material.
Happy Seed Catalog Season, Everyone!