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Gardening with intent

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Jennifer E. Beaver

Okay, I admit it; I’m feeling lazy. I should take advantage of one of our few non-rainy days and get out there in the garden and trim back the pineapple sage, or dig up the rampant grass and weeds and smother the new growth with mulch.
Instead, I’m sitting at the computer with Crackle (one of my intrepid gardening cats) on my lap, researching garden trends for the new year. So far, the most intriguing— in a bizarre way— is Garden Media Group’s designation of 2013 at the “Year of Bliss” in the garden.
Maybe I’m just feeling contrary, but this sort of thing really irritates me. The press release is full of thoughts about gardening as a way to put bliss back in everyday life and getting a Zen-like high by watering and weeding.
While I’ve spent many happy hours mindlessly popping weeds out of the ground, gardening is not about escapism— at least, not for me. I prefer gardening with intent: growing vegetables and herbs for food, researching perennials for year-round color, brewing up natural concoctions to keep bugs and disease at bay. I do get blissed-out over the first homegrown tomato snatched from the vine, and I feel a touch of Zen when I scatter wildflower seeds.
So where is my intentional gardening leading me at the moment? I’ve been fantasizing over seed catalogs and have identified two new varieties I want to try. Apollo is a broccoli/kale cross that produces lots of small broccoli shoots perfect for stir-fries. It looks just like brocollini, a trademarked (meaning you can’t get seeds) cross of broccoli and chard that costs an arm and a leg at the store.
Then there’s Yugoslavian red lettuce, an absolutely gorgeous heirloom butterhead variety that is almost too pretty to eat. The Cooks Garden catalog describes it like this: “Large, full heads grow to a foot across, with deeply puckered, apple-green leaves tinged with pomegranate red. Leaves’ buttery, succulent flavor pairs well with apples or strawberries for a sweet summer salad.” I’ve saved an old cardboard egg carton and I’m ready to plant the seeds!as soon as I find a good deal on shipping from Cook’s Garden (

Jennifer E. Beaver, a Wrigley resident, is a master gardener and author of Container Gardening for California and Edible Gardening for California.

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Gardening with intent