And she's gardening again...

I never considered myself to have a green thumb.

My gardening attempts were always clumsy guesses and hopes that often turned out to be terribly disappointing.

When we moved to this property, I was determined to have a vegetable garden that would provide food for the family for a good chunk of the year. (Until I get an actual root cellar built, storage until about December or January is the best I can hope for.*) So, I started collecting gardening books. Thanks to the ultra-craziness of my home-schooling lifestyle, I didn't read nearly as many as I collected, but a few were my "go-tos" every spring when it came time to put in the garden.

CDN$ 20.65
By Tanya Denckla Cobb

The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food: 765 varities of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and nuts was--and is--an indispensable reference each year when it comes to putting in my vegetables.

However, this year I have also discovered the benefits of Lois Hole's work, since she ran a farm and greenhouse in Edmonton area (only one gardening zone off of where I live) and has great wisdom to share when it comes to knowing what does and doesn't work in Alberta.

This year, I decided it was time to read a few of those books getting dusty on my shelf, and excitedly dove into about four volumes at once.

My oh-so-organized Spring Reading pile, decorated with seed packets and a crumpled garden plan on top.

I also excitedly started putting seeds into dirt, eeking out precious space in sunny windows where it could be found--next to my houseplants, on the ironing board, wherever.

I didn't start my indoor seeds until around May 1, as I was still a little disorganized. (And by "little", you can read "not really organized at all, just pretending I am, so don't spoil my delusions.) Fortunately, within about two weeks, the weather started warming up enough that I could bump some of those first starters out onto the deck during the day and make room in the windows for another batch.

Thank goodness I did, because although I was checking the weather diligently most nights, I forgot to one night when there was a very hard frost, and didn't bring in my tender tomatoes and pumpkins and squashes. I had to start new ones.

(Although that second batch of squash is now mostly planted out in the garden, last week there was another frost that took out the upper leaves and my marigolds, too. Apparently, my plastic vinegar/milk jug "cloches" were not sufficient protection against that typical early June hard frost. Noted for next year.)

This year is my most ambitious garden year yet. Not only do I have more raised beds in my vegetable patch than ever before, I am actually starting a few flower beds, and am putting in some of my favourite perennials. Shasta daisies, lavender, a hosta, bleeding hearts, lilies, and  California poppies will be sharing space with a few food crops to make use of the all-too-precious black dirt I had hauled here from Mom and Mike's place.

I'm a very impatient gardener, though--I check my seeds several times a day until they come up, barely restraining myself from the child's trick of digging up the seeds to see if they have sprouted. :-)

I took these photos last week, before I had completed my front flower bed (which now has the hosta, strawberries, and morning glories snug as a bug inside.)

Last Monday, I wandered around our yard, capturing all the beautiful signs of what it looks like in late spring:

Frost-tender plants and seedlings growing on the deck.

I've never tried growing hostas before. Oh, wait, I did. Try, I mean--unsuccessfully.

Cornish Giant Cross chicks at 13 days old.

Surplus roosters on the Green Mile.

The onions have sprouted! I have figured out a few vegetables, but onions have continually sucked grass in my garden. I am hoping that THIS is the Year of the Onion!

A giant rock Jason brought as an accent in the middle of our "orchard"--two saskatoon and two black currant bushes I planted last fall.

I thought that two dump truck loads of dirt would look bigger...

Our first two flowers of spring--dandelion and wild strawberry.

Jason has done a beautiful job of keeping our yard mowed so far, which is quite the feat considering his hay fever, and that he uses the push lawn mower. Yes, the older boys have helped, but it is just a lot of mowing. Jason did this patch last weekend, and it took him four hours:

That is only half the yard! (Actually, it's only the part of the half that I could fit into this picture!) However, it has been so wonderful to go out my door and be in a park.

As a "thank you", and to hopefully help maintain it, I am getting him a riding lawn mower for Father's Day. :-)

Levi peeking out of the tramp enclosure. We replaced the net and padding this spring, as Thunder (the dog) and the weather had pretty much destroyed them.

Look! The robin's back! He wasn't singing when I took the photo this year, though--apparently, he has good enough manners not to sing with his mouth full. :-)

Gardeners are pretty much the ultimate optimists, I think. No matter how bad your garden turned out the year before, THIS is the year it's going to be amazing! Caterpillars, craziness, and cold weather be darned!

 Perhaps because last year was such a gardening disaster for me, I really, really want to have the magnificent garden I am imagining this year. And honestly, this is the first year where I really feel like I am starting to "get" this gardening thing.

As they say--"Hope springs eternal within the gardener's breast." No, wait, that's not it. "Tomorrow is another day." Closer. How about, "The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies." (Gertrude Jekyll)

How true.

CDN$ 14.08
By Mike Bubel, Nancy Bubel

(*This year--after only three or so years of looking at the spine on my shelf--I plan to actually read  the book "Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables" by Mike and Nancy Bubel, so watch for what I am sure will be some rather amusing anecdotes as I think of ways to get creative with Vegetable Storage--and possibly a book review.)