It has been a little quiet on this blog the past month or two. First the holidays were demanding their fair share of my attention, then recovering from said holidays took precedence, and finally the family succumbing one by one to some awful sickness took up much more energy then I would have liked. The win for most pathetic patient would have to go to the Storm Sprite. Poor little thing still has no idea what hit her. As I was sick myself, I took no insult when she wanted comfort from Daddy instead of me. Instead, I just handed her hysterically sobbing for Daa-Daa self off to Hey, Babe (who wasn't thoroughly convinced she knew what she was saying until she instantly quieted on being taken into his arms) and tried to get more sleep. We are still suffering the after shock, what with sniffly noses and fits of coughing still echoing in our house, but the fact that I don't have two children super glued to my person at all times is an indication that they are actually feeling better. I might even be to cook with my camera again (hard to do when one hand is already holding a clingy, sniffly baby).
Meanwhile, I have been working on planning my first garden for the spring. Buying started plants for everything I'm interested in growing would be cost-prohibitive (as well as less of a learning experience) so instead I ordered seed catalogs from several supposedly reliable, safe companies and figured I was on my way to figuring out what to plant. Then all the catalogs started to come in. I had NO idea that there was going to be so many selections (all of which look tasty) and was beginning to be quite overwhelmed.
Fortunately, I discovered that one of the companies, Bountiful Gardens, was offering seed mixes of several of the vegetable varieties I wanted to grow. Perhaps it will turn out to be a mistake when I can't figure out what the heck I planted that we enjoyed (or hated) so much for future reference, but I am hoping it will give me a starting point. Aside from that, I don't think I am particularly picky and after buying partially ripe tomatoes in the grocery store for the past several years I am pretty sure that anything I grow will be an improvement. I will also be attempting to grow a few herbs since the cost of one seed packet with 200 seeds is less than the cost of buying them fresh in the store. Now as long as my thumb has even a moderate shade of green I think I'll be alright.
The last thing that has been taking up so much of my recent time is trees. Fruit trees to be more specific. I am interested in starting a mini home orchard with several types and varieties of dwarf fruit trees. For my birthday that comes later this year, I am suppose to pick out trees now for spring planting. My only trouble is trying to figure out what the heck to plant! There is even more pressure (self inflicted) to chose the right variety when it comes to tress for several reasons. Trees are significantly more expensive (seeds $1-3, trees $30-40 and don't even get me started on shipping), they are a huge time commitment before you see any fruit (up to three years instead of a few weeks), and because of the way I am planning on planting them (high density planting or four trees to a hole), I need to commit to four varieties at a time and hope that they all thrive because if one dies, I'm not sure if or how it can be replaced. I have to remind myself that this self induced pressure is a luxury, but I still want to pick the right ones.
Though I would eventually like to have apples, cherries, peaches, plums, pears and nectarines all growing here (perhaps I'm a little over-ambitious), I think I am accepting that I will have to start with just apples or cherries this year. Now if only I could figure out what varieties to plant! My intent is to use the apples for apple butter, apple pies, and eating out of hand. I don't like mealy apples (like Red Delicious) and apples like Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith are all readily available for reasonable prices around here so it doesn't make sense to grow my own. Any suggestions for incredible apples that you have used for apple butter or pie and absolutely loved? Any recommendations or even warnings will be welcome! I need to chose soon before they run out of selections. I apparently should have ordered in the fall, who knew?