Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peas and Garlic Sprouts

Small signs of spring abound in nature at this moment.  My allergies are back, which is a sure sign of pollen activity by those tall, stately cedars and their shrubby cousins, the Junipers.  Crocuses are up, daffodils are poking their leaves through the soil, and the wind has lost its nip.  Buds are swelling on the blueberry bushes and on the fruit trees, and leaves are ready to pop out of the bare raspberry canes.  Today in the garden I noted another sure sign of spring- garlic sprouts poking their stout heads above ground!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My First Win

This past Sunday I raced in my first second mountain bike race ever (the first one in high school).  My alarm went off at 5:45 am.  I hit the snooze button, still sore and sleepy from a hiking adventure the previous day, and fell back into a dream in which my mother (who lives in Spokane) was asking to use our bathroom.  The conscious part of my mind broke into our dialogue, tapped on my forehead, and whispered in my ear that perhaps I'd been snoozing too long.  I rolled over to check the clock, and it was 6:25.  Shit! Jill was scheduled to pick me up at 6:30 and that woman is never late.  I bolted out of bed in a panic, dove headfirst into my racing kit, ran downstairs and grabbed my bag, which luckily I had packed the night before.  Jill pulled into the driveway just as I was pulling my bike out of the basement.  I collapsed into the passenger seat and settled in to enjoy the comfort of the heated seats in the Subaru for the drive down to Dash Point State Park.
As we traveled south, I medicated with caffeine, to wake up, and Advil, to help my sore hips and legs loosen up. Warm up started off rather stiff and slow, but after about 20 minutes and I started to feel good- loose, relaxed, comfortable.  The course really suited my riding style- lots of ups and downs, plenty of turns and roots, on the technical side, but still nice and flowy. Excellent!

We headed back to the start line about 15 minutes before our start. That's when the nerves and self doubt started to settle in. I had no idea how this was going to go.  My heart sank a little bit when some Team Group Health ladies lined up.  These are ladies I really enjoy racing with, but they generally beat me in road and CX and I was intimidated by their arrival. I actively tried to push those thoughts out of my head and focused on the start. With a "ready, go!" we were off.  I stomped in to my pedals and took off down the incline, grabbing the hole shot.  I  expected someone to come flying around me at any minute, but no one did.  I flew over the first knoll and nearly over my handlebars as the trail dove to the right.  Somehow I recovered and sat back in the saddle, reminding myself to calm down and ride within my means.
A train of TGH and Cycle U ladies coming down the first descent (I snagged this shot from the TGH flickr stream).  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Seed Uprising

As a reward for planning my garden out ahead of time this year, I splurged on some unique varieties of flowers, fruits and veggies from Uprising Seeds.  Based in Bellingham, Uprising is an amazing business. They offer only organic and open- pollinated varieties while supporting a strong network of seed growers in the state. They do meticulous research on varietial performance, and they know their seeds extremely well!  They don't carry the variety that some of the larger seed companies do, but each seed description is extremely thoughtful and helpful, and all of their seeds are chosen with our Northwest maritime gardening climate in mind.

The bulk of our garden will grow from seeds on hand from last year- but, I still found an eclectic mix of beauties too add to our garden space. I chose exotic blooms (for the bees, and to feed my love of cutting flowers), some unique greens, and some heirloom veggies which I hope will become jewels of our harvest.

All photos from Uprising Organics online seed catalog.  

Garden Planning with GrowVeg

During these rainy, damp months, when the garden is looking pretty ragged, it's a bit too warm to ski, and I'm not feeling uber excited about being on my bike, I like to curl up under a quilt with my laptop and a cup of tea and plan the spring's garden layout.  This is our second year planting veggies in the raised beds, and we're planning on rotating crops this year.  Crop rotation has a number of benefits for backyard gardeners.  It is easier to stick with organic methods, because pests have a hard time following rotating crops from season to season, and it allows you to balance out the nutrient load from year to year, as different plants deplete and add nutrients to the soil.

There are many, many MANY methods for crop rotation out there, and though I've tried to map a handful of them on paper, I find it quite confusing and tedious to track what should be planted where in order to maximize a rotation scheme.  I spent a little time searching for a good crop rotation app on the internets, and I came across GrowVeg.Com.     I signed up for the free trial and was immediately hooked.  The interface looks like this: