Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2010
Dear Diary:

Cheap is cheap is such a perjorative word. I much prefer frugal.

Gardening can get spendy fast, especially when you're like me and you have acreage to play with. You can end up owing your soul to the local gardening centres if you're not careful.

Not that I would know anything about that. I've just heard it's possible.

In order to have the huge rivers of hostas and other plants I love, I've taught myself a lot about propagating plants. Every spring and fall I divide endless perennials to start new clumps. I sow seed. And now I'm learning about wintering over annual bulbs.

Two years ago I fell in love with some some especially gaudy tuberous begonias. What's not to love about a plant that has huge pom pom flowers in lovely colours and will flower in both sun and shade?

My thoughts, exactly. The thing is, to make a big splash, it takes about three in a pot or hanging basket. Multiply that by the bazillion pots and hanging baskets that I really, really need and, well, you come to a ridiculous sum of money. Especially ridiculous for something that would die over a Canadian winter and never come back again.

Except except they can be wintered over in a basement. Web site after web site assured me they would winter over. Easy peasy. So last winter I took the begonia bulbs out of my hanging baskets, followed the storage directions, and wintered them over in my basement.

The internets told me I had to start the begonias "early" but did not define just exactly what early was. So I took them out of the basement early last May, planted them and, um, nothing. Zip. Nada.

June came and I took the pots outside and still nothing. Zip. Nada. I dragged them over to the side of the woodshed meaning to dump the pots out and plant something else and promptly forgot about them because shiny garden things caught my attention.

I bought two hanging baskets of begonias because I am a sucker for the gaudy and told myself that it wasn't really a waste of money.

Fast forward to August and I remembered the pots. Uh oh. I went over to dump them out and low and behold, little tiny leaves had sprouted out of them. Begonias. Ten minutes before winter.

Fine.

We had a really, really long fall last year so I actually got to enjoy the rescued begonias. Last fall I decided to take another shot at wintering over them over because I am cheap, so I followed all the directions just like last year.

Except this year instead of early May, in the middle of February I trudged through howling wind and blowing snow to our basement and got the begonia bulbs. The begonias want an early start, do they? Oh, but I'll show those puppies early.

Why.  Why do you torture me like this?Now here's the deal. I harvested and stored all those bulbs identically. Identically.

I planted them in identical pots.

In identical soil. I watered them from the bottom, which means they got identical amounts of water.

One of the five bulbs I planted sprouted instantly. As in planted day one, tiny leaf nub peeking out the next morning. Watching this plant is like watching stop action photography.

The other four pots?

Nothing.

Then about two weeks ago another bulb started sprouting. Then a few days ago another bulb just barely began to break the soil. As you can see in this picture, the two bulbs on the left have yet to resurrect. Several times a day I quietly fixate on these bulbs because, well, this makes no sense and it's driving me mental.

I like to think of myself as a somewhat skilled gardener, a garden maven if you will. These &%*#! begonias call all that into question. We're talking about core beliefs about self here.

The spousal unit finds this situation hilarious.

Me, not so much.

Wait. Hard as it is to believe, it gets worse.

This is not funny.The same day I planted the small pots, I planted two hanging baskets upstairs by our bed. Begonia bulbs stored in the same condition. Planted in same size pot. Planted in identical soil.

The exact same deal happened. One basket went jungle city, the other has only recently woken up.

It is hard not to be bitter.

Because we sleep next to the window with the hanging baskets, the first thing I see every morning are the basket of Can Do Begonias beside the basket of Slacker Begonias. This means I start my mornings brooding over plant's inhumanity to man.

There has to be a better way to start the day.

--Marn

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This template is a riff on a design by the truly talented Quinn. Because I'm a html 'tard, I got alot of pity coding to modify it from Ms. Kittay, a woman who can make html roll over, beg, and bring her her slippers. The logo goodness comes from the God of Graphics, the Fuhrer of Fonts, the one, the only El Presidente. I smooch you all. The background image is part of a painting called Higher Calling by Carter Goodrich which graced the cover of the Aug. 3, 1998 issue of The New Yorker Magazine.

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