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Seasonal Affectation


We are rapidly approaching Corn-Phlegma-Plethora-Terminus-Ucopia and I’m sure that all of you are planning big parties for this beloved annual gardening event.

Basically, CPPTU or “C-Ptui!” (as it is popularly known) marks that time late in the year when we begin to realize that we don’t have anywhere close to enough storage space to save all of the stuff we’re about to harvest and we’re really not interested in spending the next three months chained to a cutting board inside the canning kitchen pickling Tree of Heaven root and making used-leather-sandal jerky simply because the editors of Organic Flotsam Magazine claim it can be done. Gardeners celebrate C-Ptui! by tossing green pumpkins and rock-hard tomatoes at passing cars with out-of-state license plates.

That’s just one of the iconic dates that gardeners have marked on their calendars. Interestingly, people who aren’t gardeners seem to have entirely different calendars, which contain odd, obscure holidays like Labor Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Super Bowl Sunday and Change the Dust Bag on your Vacuum Cleaner Day. Sometimes I just don’t understand the world.

Since everything I do is a public service (if it’s for the money, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong), I thought I would introduce the rest of the world to the International Gardener’s Growing Yearly (or “IGGY”, as it is popularly known) Calendar. Here are some of its more famous holidays:

Dreary Tuesday - Those of us who have birthdays in January know what an unfortunate time of the year it is to be celebrating…well … anything. From time immemorial, gardeners in temperate climes have looked to the skies in January, wondering why the sun seems to rise at 11 a.m. and set about two hours later. One of the rituals associated with this phenomenon is to shake one’s fist at the hastily departing orb of fire. Since the whole month seems to drag on interminably, gardeners can choose any week in which to observe Dreary Tuesday. For many, it’s every week of that God-forsaken month. Others celebrate every single day, often with libations.

Germination Termination - This has no set date, as it is the day on which you realize that the many, many seeds you set out in your little egg carton on the window sill are never going to sprout, regardless of how much you plead and beg and cajole and threaten them. Since this is a personal trial, for centuries people have observed it in their own, unique ways. That being said, one of the popular rituals is the flinging of the egg carton onto the compost heap.

Blumensturmen - One of the most joyous days of the year … if you’re able to see it coming. This is the day that the prize hybrid something-or-other that you ordered online from Uruguay finally blooms, after languishing for three years in your yard. Of course, you’re at the office when that happens, so you never actually see the flower open up. In fact, after this momentous occasion, the plant goes into immediate, precipitous decline and soon dies. Loosely translated, Blumensturmen means “you missed it.”

Lawnapalooza - In northern parts of the country, this festival lasts for between six and eight months. In warmer areas, it never ends! Instead of fireworks, some who celebrate this event send streams of water into the air, often at noon and in 90 degree heat, where half of it evaporates before it hits the ground. Some prefer to fling magic, toxic granules in a wild, nihilistic attack on nature. The revelers also create intense, deafening sounds with machines that they parade back and forth across their yards as the engines release noxious clouds of smoke and pollutants. It is believed that the noise is meant to scare away evil spirits … and neighbors. Some people consider this to be not so much a festival as a religion, as true believers in the holiday never question why they engage in such outrageous actions.

Anyway, I’m currently working on a photo version of the IGGY Calendar (did I mention that’s how it’s popularly known?) but I can’t seem to find any images of pickled Tree of Heaven root. How is that even possible?

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questions

I plan on saving my amaryllis bulbs that I kept outside over summer, but I noticed red streaks on the inner side of the leaves. What caused that? Will I be able to save my bulbs?

I’d like to start composting. Do you have any advice on what kind of bin to purchase/build so that it is successful in the Chicago climate?

With all the emphasis on growing fresh vegetables, I think I should use a cold frame but I am not sure what to do or how to go about it. Any ideas?

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