One of my favorite categories to collect as an ephemerist is calendars—wall, desk, pocket, perpetual, or any other kind. A century ago, calendars were often showcases for printers and illustrators to demonstrate their most advanced skills, and calendars today often follow in that tradition.
Since the feared “Mayan apocalypse” has not happened and the world has not ended, it’s safe to plan for 2013! So I thought I’d check out the current crop of calendars appropriate for gardeners and highlight the best. Bonus: Many of them are now available at reduced prices.
Our Organic Gardening Desk Calendar is a great tool for planning and keeping track of your 2013 garden. It’s filled with tips from our editors, seasonal recipes, helpful advice, and much more, illustrated with inspirational photographs from Matthew Benson. There’s plenty of room for writing appointments and to-do lists, as well. $21.95 from the Rodale Store
The Digest Your Life Eco Planner, designed by PCP, is printed with soy inks on 100 percent recycled paper. It helps you plan week-by-week and organize your contacts. $5 from Poketo
Desk calendars are great to display in your office, where you most likely keep track of your appointments electronically and need a calendar only as a visual reminder of the date.
The Ephemerals Desk Calendar (I love that title!) is hand-printed on an antique letterpress. Each month has a different illustration of a garden insect by Yasuko Nakamura, and the pages are perforated so that they can be used as postcards once the month is over. $20.97 from Kate’s Paperie
The Grow-A-Garden Plantable Seed Calendar is a gift that keeps on giving. Each page is made of seed paper that is embedded with a different herb or vegetable seed: tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, dill, basil, and parsley. Plant the page when the month is over, and see what grows! Tips for growing and using each type of plant are included. $24.95 from Botanical Paperworks
Each year, Cavallini Papers designs gorgeous calendars using vintage and archival images, printed on thick laid paper so they’re suitable for framing. Cavallini’s offerings for 2013 include this Botanica desk calendar, which reproduces engravings that first appeared in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine in the late 18th and early 19th century. $12.95 from Two Hands Paperie
This Botanical Desk Calendar comes with its own powder-coated steel easel and a reusable gift box. Each 6-inch-square monthly calendar card features a different hand-painted illustration by Anna Bond. $48 from Rifle Paper Co.
DECORATIVE WALL CALENDARS
When you don’t need space for writing appointments and reminders, there’s more room for artwork. These illustrated calendars will inspire your gardening creativity year-round.
The Language of the Flowers Wall Calendar, from The House That Lars Built, tells a hidden story based on a century-old Victorian secret code. Each flower has a special meaning. It’s printed in Denmark on cotton paper. $28 from Terrain
The Year of the Garden Wall Calendar is a poster-sized print that can be used framed or unframed, with illustrations by Earmark. $17.99 from Earmark via Etsy
Each 6-by-9-inch page of Claudia Pearson’s Buy Local Calendar features an illustration of seasonal fruits and vegetables available at local markets that month as a reminder to buy local. $24 from claudiagpearson via Etsy
The Botanical Wall Calendar features drawings by Anna Cote. It’s professionally digitally printed on heavy recycled matte white cover stock, and is available either wire bound or single hole punched (so you can hang several months side by side). $24 from ModernPrintedMatter via Etsy
The Botanica 2013 Calendar by Canadian artist Susan Black features 12 of her botanical collages. It is unbound, and printed on heavyweight paper so the pages can be framed later. $32 from 29blackstreet via Etsy
The 2013 Garden Calendar from Rifle Paper is printed on natural white paper. It has a different illustration for each month and comes with rustic twine for hanging. $16 from Rifle Paper Co.
The Vilmorin Vegetable Garden Calendar features 12 reproductions of images from Album Vilmorin (Les Plantes Potagères), a collection of botanical illustrations commissioned by the French Seed company Vilmorin-Andrieux & Cie between 1850 and 1895. Each page is printed on lavish Italian Acquerello art paper and is perforated so it can be framed later. $24.99 from Taschen
WRITE-ON WALL CALENDARS
These calendars have monthly write-in grids that let you keep track of your appointments and special occasions.
Our Organic Gardening 2013 Wall Calendar is available free with a 2-year (12-issue) subscription to the magazine. Each month of the calendar features a different inspiring photo. $23.94 (including magazine subscription) from Rodale
The Cavallini Wall Calendar – Flora & Fauna features ephemera from the Cavallini archives. $21.95 from Two Hands Paperie
The Cavallini Wall Calendar – Garden reproduces images from vintage seed catalogs in the Cavallini archives. $21.95 from Two Hands Paperie
The 2013 Snow & Graham Grid Calendar has 9-by-12-inch grid pages that give you plenty of room to write, plus a different floral design for each month. $27.95 from Paper Source
Look closely at the scenes featured on the 2013 Food Landscapes Calendar, by Carl Warner, and you will see that each “landscape” is composed entirely of food! $13.99 from Calendars.com
In my last post, I explained how my back yard had been allowed to languish for years while the plant matter overtook it. My landlords and I spent days (over a period of weeks) removing trees and shrubs and weeds, using chain saws and stump grinders and elbow grease. (To see photos of the Great Cleanout in progress, check out my “Back Yard Makeover” board on Pinterest.) But that was just one of the first steps in its transformation. Next we had to get the soil in shape for planting.
Bringing in heavy machinery to regrade the yard had been ruled out because of cost, but the design I came up with nevertheless required some extensive recontouring. I proposed repurposing the concrete wall blocks that were being used to line the ornamental bed as edging for the new vegetable garden. This helped correct an awkward junction with the neighbor’s property, since the retaining blocks helped stop soil from washing down into their driveway. But it necessitated bringing in a chain saw to muscle out a stump that was in the path of the wall blocks. After about a day’s hard labor—did I mention that this area of the yard also concealed buried rocks and bricks?—the veggie garden now has a nice clean edge. I knew we could have allowed the garden and the lawn simply to butt into each other, but I also knew it would bother me whenever I looked at it. In the future, I’d like to add another layer of blocks so that the veggie garden is level, since right now it slopes on each side. But I’ll have to save up to buy the blocks. In the meantime, at least it is segregated from the lawn on the side that faces the house.
Our next task was removing some of the soil in the long, thin planting bed to make space for the lawn to flow onto and off of the sidewalk. But where to put the soil? We could have carted it away, but it came in handy to solve another problem with this yard: the drastic changes in grade from one part of the yard to another. As we dug out parts of the ornamental bed, we used the soil to fill in the lowest points of the yard that had tended to get waterlogged, as well as to soften the grades in the areas where the slopes were steepest.
Which left us with another problem: Large patches of bare soil that had to be covered with grass. At this point, my landlords were probably thinking they should have just bulldozed everything and put down sod. But they had to cover those bare patches, so after comparing prices of sod vs. seed, they decided to sow seed and cover it with grass seed mat. And that probably would have worked brilliantly, if I hadn’t given them this piece of advice: Put down a layer of compost before sowing the grass seed. They diligently followed this advice, spending a day screening a truckload of municipal compost and applying it to the bare patches, and then sowed the seed. And then they faithfully watered twice a day for the next few weeks. The municipal compost proved to be full of seeds for yellow nutsedge, the pernicious weed commonly known as water grass or nutgrass, which simply adores being watered twice daily. It is now threatening to overpower the new turfgrass. Sigh. Sometimes it ain’t easy being green! I am hoping that this weed becomes less of a problem once we cut back on the watering regimen, but we may be dealing with it for some time now that is has gained a foothold. I am looking into using dry molasses to control it organically. If any of you have had success with this, please let me know in the comments below. And stay tuned!
Once the contours of the yard were established and the outlines of the lawn filled in, one of the largest tasks remained: Preparing the soil of the main ornamental bed for planting. As I mentioned in my previous post, this bed had been given little attention for the past two decades or so, and was therefore full of stumps surrounded by colonies of weeds, chief among them Canada thistle and field bindweed. We knew this when we started. What we didn’t know was how much else was hiding underground. My house was built in 1910, before the advent of indoor plumbing in the neighborhood. I suspect that what remained of the privy was buried in part of the garden. What’s more, municipal waste disposal didn’t exist either, and part of the yard had apparently been used for burning/burying household trash. As I began to dig the bed, I uncovered bricks, large rocks, broken glass, car parts, and children’s marbles, among other things. Some had probably been dumped into the outhouse when it was retired. This was obviously going to take longer than I had thought. I realized the whole bed would have to be double-dug if the plants were going to have a fighting chance. The soil itself was fine—a perfect texture, the consistency of chocolate cake—but it was just so full of stuff! Here’s what a patch of it looked like before screening:
And here’s a small patch about 3 feet square, after about 2 hours of double-digging and screening:
This is when my landlords began working to earn their Merit Badges for Gardening Under Duress. Since I fold like a cheap lawn chair when temps hit the 90s, I was out of commission for at least a week during this last heat wave, so they stepped in and double-dug the entire bed. I suspect my landlady’s son has earned enough good will points to last him the whole summer, if not the year. He helped her on some of the hottest days this year—or ever—for our area. Whew! I kept reminding them that this only needed to be done once, but I still felt guilty.
Well, not too guilty. I wasn’t exactly idle while all of this was going on. I was choosing the plants for the new garden.
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s not work; that’s the fun part!”
Obviously, you have never seen my spreadsheets:
In my next post, I’ll explain the method behind my obsessive-compulsive madness!