Sunday, September 11, 2005

How to do it

Yesterday I went to a gathering of local urban gardeners, the Metro Garden Club, to meet some of what I hoped would be kindred spirits (sense the foreshadowing...). I've been on their e-mailing list for a while, and it doesn't get a lot of traffic. So I wasn't sure what to expect. I was so unprepared that I didn't have any plants, seeds, starts, or even food to bring to share. I ended up not bringing any plants, seeds, or starts home, either, partially because my ethics won't let me take when I haven't brought, but also because I didn't find anything that would fit my garden. Somebody had brought a bucket of apples, though, and I'm sorry that I didn't make off with some of them.

I was disappointed. First of all, I'm not great in social gatherings of more than, say, five people. I'm even worse when everybody else already seems to know one another. I attempted some conversations, but they didn't last. Everybody I talked to was an ornamental gardener, perhaps a casual vegetable gardener. I got into a conversation about tomatoes with one woman (these were all women, all older than I) but when I mentioned that I was canning mine she almost ran away from me. "I'm too lazy to can," she said.

As is totally obvious from what I've been blogging lately, I've really gotten into the canning thing this season, more than ever before. It is hard, but it's not that difficult once you get into the rhythm of it - As with any undertaking or hobby, no? And it is reading that inspires me. I've been asked several times in the past year, "How did you get to know so much about [gardening/canning/...]?" My reply is always the same - I read. I read about gardening for years before I had a decent sunny plot. I keep those books that I really love right by my spot at the breakfast table, and that is what I browse while I eat, wait for water to boil, drink my tea. They are reference books, about herbs, gardening, canning.

The more I read (and keep in mind that this is very casual reading) the more I get inspired. I had to look up the recipe for spiced vinegar in one book that called for it for the pickles I am making, and there on the same page was directions on making garlic rosemary vinegar - Hey, I can throw that together, too! I thumb through the pages and there's some recipes on dilly beans, so when The Husband asked me this morning what I needed at Trader Joe's, I tell him to pick up some dried beans and I'm going to try pickling them. Why not?

My favourite gardening book, by the way, is The Kitchen Garden by Sylvia Thompson. My copy is getting old and ratty and the toddler tore the cover yesterday. I love the way she writes and I aspire to being such a creative gardener.

See what I mean? I ran in and took this picture of the kitchen table, and this is exactly how it was.

(Oh, and if you ever want to make your house smell really divine, try boiling a couple of sprigs of rosemary in some white wine vinegar for a few minutes. Yum.)