Monday, January 5, 2009

Dreaming about Seeds, Dirt, and Gardens

The Christmas tree is nestled in its' box until next year. The hundreds of glass-blown birds that decorated the tree are sleeping in their paper-lined boxes until they come out next December. All stocking are carefully folded and put away. So what's a gal to do in January in the heart of Kentucky?
Easy! Pull out the seed catalogs that she has carefully been stacking since their arrival mid-December. Even though I snuck a peek during the holidays in a couple of my favorites, the tradition is to stack them up and not look until January. So, now it's time to dream about seeds, dirt, and gardens.
We finalized house plans around Thanksgiving. We finished interviewing builders days before Christmas. Last week, we made our final decision on the builder of choice. He is a great person (stay tuned to whether that assessment changes as the months go by!) with a creative mind. My test of the final two builder choices was this: I made a change to the second floor and didn't tell them until last weeks meeting. Builder A (who wasn't picked) stared at me and said, "whatever you want". I asked how the change would affect cost, roofline, room dimensions, and he could not off the cuff give me an answer. I pressed him with "what if I have other design changes/ideas during this process?" To which he replied, "Hey, if you got the money, I'll do whatever you want." I went on, "Even if it doesn't make design sense?" At that point, he realized that he had said too much. I thought that he said exactly what was on his mind and I didn't like it.
Builder B answered all my questions. I shot the design sense question at him. He said, he would no matter what point out anything that seemed flawed, or unsensible. Exactly, what I wanted to hear, someone who would evaluate my creative brainstorms. He got the job. Oh, the change that I wanted? A sleeping porch off the the upstairs guest bedroom, and it is going to be worked in with minimal cost. Yay.
So, house stuff is on my mind. But, honestly, I have over a hundred acres of dirt at my disposal, and I am dreaming BIG. I had thought of putting in tobacco, about an acre, because the property was formerly a tobacco farm. I researched tobacco, the work involved, the cost as well, and really I just don't want to get into that. You decide: One acre of tobacco equals 7,400 hundred plants with fertilizer needs, pesticide control, workers (no way that one person could maintain an acre by herself), several big steps during the season of topping, cutting, curing, and grading. Steps that generations of tobacco growers have passed down through their families. I am not so arrogant to think that I could figure this out in a season. So, an acre produces about 2,000 pounds of tobacco at 1.75 per pound which is $3,500 dollars. Now, take away fertilizer costs, pest control, worker payments and what do you get? Not much for an acre of hard work. I'm sure that it works out if you plant several acres, but for me, it's just not worth it. I think I will plant a few plants as an homage to the farm's former crop. So then on to sorghum.
I am still thinking of planting an acre of sorghum. I have no $$ in mind for this at all. I have heard through the years that it is labor intensive, and costly, but on the other hand, the birds love the seed heads, the deer would love the stalks, and I think it would look pretty. It has a lot more to offer than tobacco. My husband on the other hand, thinks it is a bad idea. I'll consider it more before making a final decision.
Last year my big success, and it was funny how many people loved looking at the tidy rows of onions and leeks, were allium crops. This weekend Anthony Bourdain was in Spain at an onion farm, my husband dreamed of us planting acres and acres of onions and having an onion festival or party like Anthony's friends in Spain. See how contagious this seed dreaming can be?
Then, yesterday I opened a catalog on orchard trees. I think a small apple orchard would be nice. Of course, dreaming allows one to plant many orchards, and a vineyard, and let's not forget the raspberry, currant, and strawberry patches. Oh, some native plantings of pawpaw, and persimmon would be nice too. Oh, how I love to dream about seeds, dirt and gardens...

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