Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

17 November 2010

Brown Thumb Gardener

I always wondered about that expression, "green thumb". In my experience, a real gardener's thumb is a brown thumb, or a black thumb, from digging in the dirt, viz:
My four o'clock roots had a great summer this year, and grew like crazy. My handspan, stretched out like that, is about 8.5 inches (21.5 cm). Look at the size of that root, and the piece of stem still on it. Wow.

When the soil dries and I clean them off, I'll have to weigh that thing. It's heavy!

In warm climates, I'm told four o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa) roots will overwinter in the ground, but here they freeze and die. They usually produce lots of seeds, so if you're pressed for space, you can save the seeds and grow a new batch next year.

But if you want to lift your four o'clock roots and save them, here is how I have done it for quite a few years now.

After the first frost, I dig up the roots and clean them. Some years I've sprayed them off with the hose, other years I've just let my sandy soil dry and brushed it off.

Then I put the clean dry roots in an open plastic bag (that is, not a ziplock type bag), and I set them aside and forget about them until we're past frost danger again. They literally sit on the floor next to my sewing machine all winter, in the room farthest from our soapstone stove, at around 65 degrees F (about 18 C), all winter.

When I plant them, the buds tell me whether the flowers will be pink (the leaf buds are pinkish red) or either yellow or white (green leaf buds).

When I haven't been turning my thumbs black digging in the dirt, I've been watching my parents' greyhound again:Ajax and Kasper were soaking up some late-November sunshine and a run of unseasonably warm days.

I'm still working on Glöckchen:


I actually finished something and cast it off!

The "Lilac Time" (Marianne Kinzel's "Lilac Time") that I started last fall is finally finished. Whew.And now I apparently need to learn a new skill, starching doilies.

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Blogger Sheep Rustler said...

I love greyhounds! Well, all doggies actually :)

8:31 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Wow, Lilac Time is gorgeous!

Great work. I'm sure I would write something witty, cept I haven't had coffee or breakfast yet. And the heat isn't on in our apartment right now.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Roxie said...

Greyhounds are kind of a walking anatomy lesson - all those clearly outlined bones. Unseasonable sunshine is good to share with a pal.

You have many skillz! And four o-clocks are lucky to live with you.

Your lilacs rock as well!

9:16 AM  
Blogger Lucia said...

Of course a true gardener's thumbs are brown. I've never grown four-o'clocks, but they are beautiful. As are your dog and knitting projects. Gorgeous lace.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, wow! Both of those pieces are just stunning - I am so impressed. And the dogs look very happy there in the sun; ours has been soaking up as much as possible lately, too, stocking up for the grey days to come, I think.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Jejune said...

I've never heard of four o'clock plants before - and yes, a brown thumb does seem to be more accurate, doesn't it.

That Lilac Time lace is just astonishing, fantastic job!

6:24 PM  

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