Monday, March 12, 2012

the difference a year makes

the backyard- March 12, 2012
The difference that a year makes?  The above photo was our backyard this afternoon.  Brown, yes, but no snow to speak of.  Tulips are starting to poke up out of the mud on the south side of the house, and the yard smells like rain, earth and the neighbor's thawing dog poop.

Now scroll down and see the exact same yard exactly one year ago.

the backyard- March 12, 2011

That's the difference between a normal Minnesota winter (or what was at one time normal) and the this current winter.

Last year I was starting to go nuts by this time in March- having no prospects of growing anything anytime soon.  The cold and snow was getting under my skin and I needed an outlet.  So I started this blog.  It turned out to be good timing, because it has been an eventful year.

We tapped our maple tree when it started to get milder later in March, then watched as it snowed on us while we tried to plant our new strawberry plants on May dayJune was unusually wet, then became hot, then mid-summer was dry, and Japanese beetles arrived in hordes.  Then frost came early for the suburbs, but not for us in the city where we had 5+ more weeks of growing season, and had time to bring in a bumper crop of carrots for carrot wine.

Then in November, Gita was diagnosed with breast cancer, and that became the unfortunate focus of our lives, at least for a while.

As it is I really enjoy writing.  There's not a lot of time for relaxing these days, but I actually find the process of sitting in my easychair in the evening and typing about gardening relaxing.  Like sitting with some friends by an electronic campfire.  So I'm glad I started this.  One year in, this is a lot of fun, when I can find time to do it.

Since you are reading this, I want to ask you now for your opinion.  No- I am not asking for money.  Blogging is free, at least for now, and I don't really need it.  What I really want to know is how I could improve this, and make it more useful to gardeners and peak-oil aware folks in cold climates.

So leave a comment, or if you're shy, send me an email telling me what you'd like to see more of.  My email is in the biographical thing on the sidebar. Is it the stories of tending a backyard garden, or photos of kids playing, or close-ups of flowers, or ratings of garden seeds?  Is it the stories of daily life dealing with a loved ones' cancer?  Or is there something else you're interested in?

I started this partially because I wanted to write the kind of blog that I'd like to read, and I've really enjoyed the process of making that happen.  Now I'd like to hear what kind of blog you would like to read, and request your help in making that happen.

As always, I accept no ads, and don't endorse anything that I haven't used or wouldn't use. I may sound like a salesman for Fedco seeds sometimes, but that's just because I like their company (or co-op, that is) so much.  I like to say that my opinions are my own and not Monsanto's.  That's one thing that won't change.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Hey Jeff - Congrats on your one year birthday for the blog!! Keep doing what you do, I love knowing that there is another peak oil/ gardening blogger here in the Twin Cities. As far as the climate goes, are you ready for 80 degrees in a few days!!?? WTF, it is March! Keep up the good writing - I wish you and your family the best - Peace and Cheers - Andy

  2. well done! congratulations for your 1 yr anniversary! I like reading your blog when i get time.

  3. Congratulations on making it to your blog's first anniversary.

    Hmmm... the kind of blog I like to read? You're already there. My preference: keep doing what you've been doing. I like your mix of topics and the personal touch. I wouldn't want to see more of any one topic if it meant any less of another.

  4. I'll 2nd what John said above the blog. As to spring fever, I'm definitely there this year....debating if I should risk planting some of last year's kohlrabi seeds in the garden this weekend, and see what happens. Would be tempted to start re-mulching the gardens, but my favorite local nursery won't open for at least a month. :-)

  5. OK, not sure how "about" turned into "above" in my last comment - you'll know what I meant.

  6. Hi Jeff, I really like the story of your garden, what you're up to, what changes you're making. I learn things because you are gardening in a sustainable way and you always have projects going on! Please do updates on Gita (as much as she is comfortable with, of course.) I think of you and your family from time to time, wondering how it's going with the cancer. Thanks for gardening and blogging!


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  8. Thanks to everyone who commented- Sounds like I should keep doing what I'm doing. Thanks for the feedback!

  9. It's all good. You are informative as well as endearing, without any of that harshness so often found in the people writing from the peak resources perspective. A positive model of thoughtful, nurturing masculine. Blessings.

  10. Hi! I just found your blog when I googled "Real men use reel mowers" lol.
    I haven't had time to read a lot of your blog yet but it looks great so far! I have been learning about peak oil for a few years and have some friends involved with the Transition movement so am quite interested in that.

    I bought my home a year ago and now that I am settled in, am working towards growing my own food. I have never gardened in my adult life but love being outdoors and digging in the dirt. It is all very overwhelming to me but I am taking things one step at a time. I look forward to following your blog now that I found you. Any posts about growing things would interest me! I think it is also important to include posts on family life. I have a 2 year old nephew whom I would like to include in my food growing efforts and when I see your kids "watering the asparagus", I immediately thought of him!