Sunday, February 22, 2009

Catalog Trees

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Snow falls lightly this morning on the mountain. It's 22.3 degrees now, up only a couple degrees from 4:50 when a put a couple logs on the fire. There's an occasional light wind that tosses snow flakes against my office window and makes me turn to look at what might be approaching. By evening we are supposed to experience the first of what will accumulate to 12"-18" of new snow by tomorrow morning.

I have almost been afraid to check the weather sites for an update. When you live in Vermont for a while you can almost feel the weather building and this one feels like it will come true. We don't own a barometer yet but my internal pressure reader says the storm is on the way. The flocks of grosbeaks and blue jays are fighting over feeder space like vendors in a big grocery store. When I head for town for my paper in a bit, I'll dump a fresh Sunday buffet on the platform feeder for them.

I experienced tax relief this week and it is with a great sigh that I say that. Our accountant can deal with the taxes now as our part is done. The front room by my office looks like a military test site as the piles of records are stacked on two different tables and in a couple boxes. Gail has vowed that this is it and that taxes will be computerized. I already installed a software package and we reviewed it together yesterday to get an idea what we have to do. As soon as I finish the last odds and ends on the web site, we'll set up all the folders together with the software and then match them by name with file folders for all the receipts.

I hope your taxes are finished and well on their way too and that you have been better organized. I have always said I would vote for anyone who got rid of income tax preparation but after what our country has gone through, I have to be careful what I say. I always recall Warren Buffet commenting that his administrative secretary probably paid more taxes than he did based on the current system. I don't know if that is true but that's one of the items that needs looking into.

I have been able to spend a few more minutes reading this week and the seed companies have provided more than ample material. We don't request catalogs as the few wholesalers we use have been sending to us for years. We always prepare on-line seed orders and in fact completed one last night for Johnny's Selected Seeds in Wilton, Maine.

I have to say there is a convenience to reading a catalog at night laying in bed listening to how many trillion bucks we spent today. There just isn't a convenient way to watch the laptop and and news and be comfortable too. This is especially true if Karl the Wonder Dog is breathing down your face trying to find the last chocolate cookie just when they report they found another missing bad guy. The other thing is that web sites are updated for obvious reasons but then you lose the items that you really want from a few years back. When memory loss makes you work harder, that brief memory of the catalog from 2006 doesn't do much.

Some catalogs are real teasers. They offer something you have read about and really want and then they are sold out or back ordered. I really hate the companies that charge three times what something should be and then tell you that you didn't order fast enough. Once I really wanted a Gunnera manicata from Brazil. These plants absolutely are not hardy here but if you want to fiddle around with them you can have one incredible show in the summer. They are giant leafed foliage plants over 6 feet high and they are great planted in a bog situation. The company that I have since put a curse on sent the plants in July and they looked like the perfect model for the word "dessication". With all the attention I could possibly provide, they got to only 2 feet tall by September when I brought them inside. A month later I tossed them.

As you receive garden catalogs, let your friends know what you have and try to exchange as many times as possible before heading them to the recycling center. There's no reason everyone needs a fresh copy of something they may not get through.

And if you do find a catalog that you don't think others may be familiar with, get it on your blog or email notice to friends. It saves trees and gets out valuable information about new varieties. And finally, before you make the final decisions on vegetable seeds for this year, don't forget to buy a few extra seeds for the vegetables you can donate to the local food shelf. It's always important to think that way but this year it's more important to do it.

Snowy garden wishes from the mountain above Peacham Pond where 14 blue jays sing short songs that never make it to DVD.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm


Sheila said...

Stay warm and enjoy gardening vicariously through those catalogs for now!

lynn'sgarden said...

Hi George,
You're right, catalogs ARE teasers with their bright, beautiful photos...then a big let down when the plants arrive! I too share and recycle my many catalogs with friends and the local schools for art projects.

George Africa said...

Hello Sheila;

In the mid 70's I attended some training programs in Laguna Beach so I was there for a few weeks at a time. Although all my gardening has been in the east, I really thought I would enjoy the new challenge of what you work with there. I even subscribed to Pacific Horticulture Magazine for several years to try to learn the new techniques and plant material you use.