Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Welcome, March!

The thrill I got from seeing the March issue of Martha Stewart Living in my mailbox is difficult to convey.  After a long, cold, gray winter (that will continue for a few more weeks), this magazine cover was the dose of sunshine and warmth I needed.

One of my major life goals is to become a serious gardener.  The idea of growing my own food, and canning the surplus to extend the bounty through the winter, is something I've wanted to do and do well for a long, long time. 

My nightstand is filled with gardening books right now, and I've dug out (no pun intended) the detailed plans I had drawn up last spring.  This year, I'd really like to start making my backyard vegetable garden and orchard dreams a reality.

The Garden Primer was mentioned in the March issue of MS Living as a must-have for the gardening library. Though I haven't had time to read it cover to cover, it was helpful.  Lesson taken:  don't grow more than you can manage!  

The other books from the library has similar messages, and I totally plan to ignore that good advice and grow as much as I possibly can in my allotted garden space. 

I was fortunate to attend two garden seminars taught by Master Gardeners from the University of Illinois Extension office.  The seminars were "Herbs for the Kitchen" and "Planning and Planting Your Vegetable Garden."  The seminars were hosted by my local library and free.  Both classes were well worth the time.  If you have this resource available to you in your area, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of their services. 

The books from the library were great, but none of them were zone-specific prompting me to buy this "Guide to Illinois Vegetable Gardening."  It has methods, suggestions and cultivars specific to this region, and I'm finding it immensely helpful. 

Now that I'm learning more about how to do what I want to do, I need to form some concrete plans, develop manageable goals and objectives, and a do-able timeline for getting things done.  I have a feeling I will be mostly on my own with this garden this summer, so Martha, if you are reading this, please feel free to send your grounds crew over.  I could use the help!

But until the ground thaws, I'm going to busy myself with two recipes in the March issue of Living:  cinnamon-streusel coffee cake...

...and yeasted chocolate coffee cake. 

I'm not sure if coffee cake can get me through the next 12-14 weeks to the frost-free date for our area, but it's worth a shot!

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