Obviously a gardener and not a photographer…

“It’s only February”, I try to tell myself this year whenever I find myself at the end of my wits. If you’re the gardening type, then you’ll understand my woes. However if you’re more of the indoor-zy type, then you probably won’t and this post wasn’t dedicated to you. I physically cringe now every time I realize there’s going to be another arctic blast as I happen to live way, way down south where snow is a rarity. Yet this certainly hasn’t stopped Mother Nature from trying to freeze everything in my garden without that white fluffy stuff of nightmares falling from the sky. Don’t get me wrong, I think snow is cool, but that’s because I’ve never lived in it, never had to shovel it, or dealt with the slush it becomes during the spring thaw.

Most of the plants in my garden are frost resistant and hardy against light freezes. Most. That means there are a few precious plants not prepared for the bitter periods of frost and freezing rain. Therefore, in a mild panic that began in January upon the end of my holiday break, I managed to erect a temporary setup for my 4′ x 8′ garden spread. I re-purposed two unused and small expandable trellises that I wedged into the end of my garden (where my precious, delicate flowering plants waited patiently) and applied some cheap plastic painter’s drop cloths over them. Using an Arrow HT21 staple gun, I mastered the makeshift greenhouse technique. Good enough for who it’s for. I nailed the plastic drop cloths to the wooden trellises and landscaping timbers used to construct my raised garden. It doesn’t bother me any to have a few staples in the timber when other methods of anchoring the plastic down would have taken longer and required hand tools. Did I mention there was a fine ice cold drizzle going on? The plants were perfectly protected inside the enclosed space even after several hard freezes and little to no sunshine. [Note to self: just because it’s raining doesn’t mean they’re going to get enough water, so water them more often next time.]

If I was more of a photographer and less a gardener, there’d be more pictures of the dreary weather. Sadly I don’t have much to show except for some frost pictures.

The other woe I ran into involved a plant, stems really, given to me by my mother while I was recently on vacation back in my native home town. My mother likes to call it “purple mint”, but the real name of it is tía tô [Vietnamese name, pronounced “tee-ah toe”] aka Perilla frutescens. It’s a plant with green surface leaves and a purple underside. To me this plant is associated with most of my childhood memories of my mother, therefore when I moved away and realized there weren’t any nurseries here who sold it, I called home. This happened to be around Thanksgiving after my first year away from home. The conclusion of that holiday vacation to see my family ended up with a giant plant to take home. While that plant didn’t survive the area due to the oncoming winter breeze (it apparently needs above 35 degree weather) and spider mites (which I wasn’t aware of even existing until after the plant died).

 

If it weren’t for my mother, I wouldn’t have these two clippings from plants we found at the market. Of course, these plants were meant to eat, which we did – only the leaves. You can take the stems and plant them into moist potting soil. It takes a little bit of luck and tenacity to get stem cuttings to root with tía tô because it’s a very finicky plant. I had about twenty and only two survived due to the winter weather here destroying most. Luckily there is a seller on Amazon that offers live plants for a reasonable price. She sent me thirteen just before another arctic blast hit. The postal service delayed sending them out to me, which was probably for the best as they remained in their package instead of in the ground where they would have been had they arrived on time. More about that later.

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