Tuesday, October 21, 2008
"Aw, c'mon," the mushroom wheedled. "I'm a fun-gi!" (read: "fun guy")
Yes, folks, it was a bad pun, but I was attempting, in my lame way, to prepare you for the horrific picture you are about to see. You know how, when people talk about death, taxes, and other unpleasant subjects, they try to make a joke about it to ease the tension? It's sort of like that.
So okay, enough of the pleasantries and joking--let's get to the fearful topic of...fungus. You'll see I've included a picture at right of a mushroom that has been growing in my yard all summer. We had a couple of 'shrooms last year (please let me reassure you at this point that we are NOT eating them, and if you have anything remotely resembling the pictured fungus growing in your yard, I wouldn't recommend adding it to any dishes), but nothing like this one.
This fungus, dubbed the Voracious Mutant Rock-and-Leaf-Eating Fungus from Outer Space and viewed with great trepidation, has evolved into an amorphous blob of spongy goo. I dared touch it, and the slick, glistening surface is actually dry and smooth. You can see hints of mushroom texture on the outer edges of this fungus blossom. Please note that the rock and leaves are STUCK--no amount of tugging would release them in one piece. I think the fungus is actually consuming them. I carefully placed a quarter in the upper right quadrant before taking the picture (which has not been photoshopped other than to simply be resized to fit the blog) so you could get a sense of the gigantuhugimammothian size.
All I can say is I am glad I am moving. I do not wish to be caught in the house unawares when this glistening, slavering beast darkens the doorstep.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am using kitty litter buckets as rain barrels in my yard. For a while, we were getting quite a bit of rain, so the buckets were about 2/3 full.
Imagine my delight when I went out one morning to use the water from one of my makeshift rainbarrels and saw...tadpoles! Yessirree, I had lots of tadpole critters swimming around in my bucket. I wasn't entirely sure how they got in there, but figured a frog had jumped in the water from the tree stump the bucket was braced against and, well, laid eggs or did whatever frogs do to have tadpoles! (I must admit my ignorance here.)
Unfortunately, I didn't have an opportunity to take a picture of the friendly little swimmers since my camera is broken. The picture at left looks a LOT like my bucket (borrowed from the Aquarium Board Web site at http://www.aquariumboard.com/forums/articles/7.htm - pay them a visit to talk about aquarium stuff!).
Thrilled with my tadpole adventure, I went to work to discuss my new finding with my friend Michelle. "I am growing tadpoles!"
She could hear the excitement in my voice, and usually she is equally excited when I make a gardening discovery. This time, however, her voice was hesitant as she asked, "How do you know they are tadpoles?"
So I described the big heads and taillike bodies and the swishing way they were swimming.
"Um, I think they aren't tadpoles. They're mosquito larvae. Search Google for mosquito larvae images."
Heart sinking quickly (because I know Michelle is probably right since she usually is about all things gardening-related), I conducted said Google search and found--the picture you see above.
Mosquito. larvae. ugh.
She was disappointed, too. "I really wish they WERE tadpoles," she said.
Mosquito. babies. must. die.
So I went home, dumped out the mosquito babies' amniotic fluid, and stomped the larvae to death. And felt no remorse.
Does that make me a bad person?
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
With all the humidity and rain we've had lately, I finally was able to get a decent harvest of cherry, sugar sunsweet, and currant tomatoes (the tiny ones). They are all sweet, juicy, and delicious (a few didn't make it into the bowl.)
And yes, you see the first okra! Within a day or two, I'll have enough to coat with egg, roll in Italian seasoned bread crumbs, and fry up for some snacky deliciousness!
In fact, I'm a little tickled by the way the okra is growing--I planted them in a row, and apparently the placement of the plants is such that each one gets just a little less sun than the next, which makes it just a little smaller, which means that it will take just a little more time to produce. In sum, I should have okra plants producing for a long time to come!
I also have more green peppers coming on. I picked one pepper--along with some lettuce--last week for salads, and I have been savoring it, salad by salad. If you haven't had a home-grown green pepper, you don't know what you are missing! It is cool and crunchy--not rubbery like the ones you buy in the grocery store. The juice dribbles down your chin as you bite into its delicious, shiny green flesh. Even though the flesh of the pepper isn't waxed (like they are in some stores), it shines in the sun, a flawless mirror of natural beauty. And it even smells like a pepper! I have more peppers on the way--you can glimpse one in the picture that is very close to being picked, hiding amid the weeds--and I intend to savor each and every bite.
I have seen bunnies near my garden, and they dash away at the smallest sign that I might actually look in their direction. Could they have, perhaps, dragged the shoe in? Did a prancing deer leap over my fence, dislodging a shoe that it had its hoof tangled in? Did Mother Nature come walking through the garden, leaving a shoe behind like Cinderella, hoping for a princely sky god to find her and return the shoe so they could live happily ever after? And if so, wouldn't she wear a much larger, more practical gardening shoe?
If this is your shoe, would you please come claim it?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The 10 Commandments of Gardening
- Thou shalt have no other interests before me.
- Thou shalt not make for thyself a genetically modified organism, but shalt allow nature to take its course.
- Thou shalt not curse Mother Nature, for she is fickle and will show no mercy to those who misuseth her name.
- For six days thou shalt labour in the garden. But the seventh day is a sabbatical from weeding, planting, and harvesting. Thou shalt need the seventh day to cook, can, and otherwise preserve the food gathered.
- Honor thy Father Sky and thy Mother Earth, so that thy garden days will be long and fruitful.
- Thou shalt not kill beneficial bugs.
- Thou shalt not water at high noon.
- Thou shalt not steal food from thy neighbor's garden, but shall asketh kindly, offereth to trade, or purchaseth foods from local farmer's markets.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness about the bounty thy garden produces.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s garden, or gardening tools, or wheelbarrow, or any gardening thing that belongeth to your neighbour.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Every day, as I go in and out of the house, I take a look at the praying mantis egg casing that Michelle generously donated to my garden cause. I elevated the casing by attaching it to a highly technical tool (read: stick) and propped it up in this state-of-the-art incubator, shown at right (read: a plastic drinking cup amid zuke and cuke seedlings beneath a grow lamp).
Last year, the mantis egg casing Michelle had supplied me with didn't hatch at all. This year, we had storms coming in, so I was waiting until the storms had passed to put the egg casing out.
I waited too long.
As I was headed out the door to work, I performed my glance-to-the-left-to-verify-that-mantises-haven't-hatched-yet move...and did a double take. Mantises were afoot in my enclosed porch, roaming around in the incubator! (If you look closely at the picture, you'll see the egg shell remains sort of hanging out of the side of the casing.)
Wow, I thought, maybe they are just starting to hatch and I caught them in time to put them out in the garden.
At left are just a FEW of the 100+ mantises that hatched, crawling around my cucumber seedlings (which are long overdue for garden planting). Mantises are currently walking my walls, ceiling, and windows, entering the house through cracks. They seem quite happy swaying their buggy-eyed little heads back and forth, watching me as I try to capture a decent shot of them on David's camera (which he loaned to me since my camera shot craps). Of course, I haven't quite figured the camera out, so parts of the picture are blurry and I can't get the macro and super-macro function to work right, so this is the best shot of the colony I could get.
Unfortunately, we don't have many bugs on our porch, so I have to capture all these guys and set them free in the garden so they don't die prematurely. Using my very expensive, state-of-the-art mantis capturing device (read: a torn piece off a Target prescription bag and plastic drinking cup), I scooped mantises up, gently knocking them from the leaves, and deposited them among the bean, pea, and tomato plants in my garden.
So, now you have the story of the babies. I am no longer just a mantis midwife; I am a MANTIS MOMMA!
Aren't my babies cute?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
These two radishes [at left, a red radish; at right, plum purple] were added to a mixture of spinach, romaine and red-leaf lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, and crumbled green onion white cheddar cheese, all obtained from the Bloomington farmer's market that weekend. All, might I add, pesticide- and herbicide-free. It was a VERY tasty salad!
I vaguely remember the radishes we grew in our garden at home when we were younger. They seemed mild--or maybe I am remembering only the store-bought versions I've eaten in the past. These puppies packed a wallop, and it is only early June! The red radish was sweet and spicy, and the plum purple radish was also sweet, with much more bite. I recommend a lot of ranch-like dressing to cool the tastebuds. I harvested 3 more a couple of days later, and it's time to harvest again.
Meanwhile, at right is a picture of David holding out my first green beans of the year, still on the plant!
What? You say you can't see anything? Nothing but a black box? That's because MY FLIPPIN' CAMERA ISN'T WORKING! I have all kinds of garden pictures to take, and for some reason, all I get is a ridiculous black screen in the view finder! I can view the pictures I took before today. I clearly have battery function. But to take no pictures--no.
So, I'm clearing out my photos, I'll change the batteries, and see if that solves the problem. If that doesn't work, I'll have to see if I can find the instructions (can any of you ever find your instruction booklets when you need them? I can't!) to see if I just need to push a simple button or something.
Please...I need my camera to work! I have beans! Beans that are not only GROWING, one of which looks EDIBLE at this point, but beans that grew and that look edible despite the ravenous Mexican bean beetles that I have been fighting!
Monday, June 2, 2008
Meanwhile, it is taking the Green Arrow peas a lot more time. They don't have blossoms yet, but I am expecting them to bloom sometime soon.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I have a little heaven in the garden to report today--my first pea blossoms! The plant is sporting four--count 'em, four!--and they weren't there this morning! I did a garden check, ran to Menard's and our local farmer's market with a girlfriend for mulch and flowers, and when I came back, these delicate little beauties were waiting for me! However, if we get the storm the weather people say we will be getting, I doubt the blossoms will last very long. But there will be more, of that I'm certain.
Meanwhile, I crushed several Mexican bean beetles today with my fingers and a nearby stick. I am ashamed to say that I greatly enjoyed it (even though it was a bit gross). I tried putting out chopped garlic around the beans since I didn't have any garlic powder at hand, but with little-to -no effect. However, I am happy to report that the green beans are beginning to bud, despite the beetles.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I've always loved deer; several years ago, after reading Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, I thought I'd try my hand at writing a poem for children. I don't think it can actually be called poetry--more like doggerel. Anyway, given the visit today by my little deer friend, I thought I would share it with you.
I’d like to catch a deer
but I don’t have any salt.
I’d like to jump a fence
but I never learned to vault.
I’d like to sail a ship
but I don’t know how to steer—
I wonder if some ocean salt
could help me catch that deer!
Today, I installed five Sun Sugarsweet (or some variety like that) tomatoes, courtesy of Michelle at My Grandpa's Garden, along with a couple of peppers she provided. The tomatoes came from a local horticulture sale, and last year, were very prolific.
In her garden at least.
Mine never got larger than pea-size, because I planted too late. And I didn't weed. Or water. And we had a drought.
Anyway, I'm much more attentive to my garden this year (thank you, antidepressants), and we have not been experiencing drought conditions. Between my garden and Michelle's, we should be rolling in tomatoes! Michelle planted about 4 plants. I planted...hold on, let me go count...
Well, as I've mentioned before, I'm a bit OCD. Let's just say that I'll be doing a lot of freezing this year and sharing with others.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Our weather here in Central Illinois has been crazy--warm and sunny one day, then cold, dreary and rainy for a couple of days, then cold and cloudy, then rainy, and so on. I haven't had two straight days of dry in order to be able to get into the garden until today, only to find that my soup beans are being terrorized--shredded, in fact--by the Mexican bean beetle. These horrible herbivores leave bean leaves in tatters and lay their eggs on the underside of bean leaves. They look remarkably like copper-colored ladybugs, but do far more damage. Now that they have nearly devastated my soup beans, they are encroaching upon my green beans!
How do I kill the little buggers without using any pesticides, I wonder. My boyfriend, David, helped me do a bit of Internet research, and it looks like garlic is the best defense (other than simply squashing them). I'll try some garlic powder on the leaves and around the base of the plants tomorrow, but you can bet I'll be squashing the life out of as many as I can and scraping the eggs off the leaves.
I do find it interesting that they headed for the soup bean plants first, and wonder whether planting cilantro among the green beans (a la "companion planting") has kept the damage to the green beans to a minimum. Hmmm...you would think that Mexican bean beetles would actually like cilantro, a pungent herb used in salsa!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I was reading My Grandpa's Garden shortly after posting my "April Showers...." post, only to discover I have been tagged with a gardening meme! Since this is my first official tag, it's only right to contribute. Here are the meme rules:
For this Meme, all you have to do is take some pictures and post them. Any embarrassing commentary is strictly voluntary.
1. Flash Your Seed Stash - Show us where you keep your extras. Or, if your like me, dump that big bag onto the living room floor and grab the camera!
2. Your Favorite Garden Photo - Doesn’t have to be current, just the one you’re most proud of.
3. The Secret Spot - Take a picture of that part of the yard that you’ve given up hope on, nothing will grow, sun doesn’t shine, there is no hope. No yard is perfect!
4. Your favorite garden tool - you know it, you love it, its not getting enough facetime on your blog - showcase it!
5. Your garden rainbow. Go out into the garden and try to find a picture to represents each color in the rainbow, whether all in one photo or seperate!
After reading through the suggested meme options, I realized that my blog has already supplied many of them: I have already flashed my seed stash, I already have mentioned "The Secret Spot" (where the pool used to be), and I've already talked about my favorite garden tool (The Claw). My garden isn't mature enough yet to provide a garden rainbow or favorite garden photo.
I thought instead I would provide a few pictures of gardening tools that I use that weren't necessarily constructed as gardening tools.
#1: The Rain Barrel
I don't have any old-fashioned, wooden rain barrels. I did see that Lowe's has DIY instructions for creating your own rain barrels, but that was going to cost money and take time and expertise that I don't have. So I settled for the next best thing--empty kitty litter buckets. I have them sitting out in various parts of the yard, weighted down by a rock, to catch the rain. Eventually I'll try to remove part of the gutter so the water flows directly into the barrel.
#2: The Plant Stake
When bean and pea plants are small but leaning, I've staked them to provide some support. The stake shown in the picture is a bamboo skewer. I found a pack of 200 of them at the dollar store! One end is pointed, so it's easy to get into the ground, and the top end is flat (when I remember to put the proper end into the dirt, of course). Cheap stakes, bamboo, easy to use, what more could a gardener ask?
#3: The Water Reservoir
Okay, I know that this tool looks like a big pile of twigs and branches. It is. But I was recently reading Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community, which recommended digging a trench in your yard near your garden, placing twigs and branches in it, and then recovering the trench with dirt. The trench acts as a reservoir for water that will help keep some of the moisture in your garden during the dry summer months. Additionally, the branches and twigs break down and contribute to soil building. I haven't dug the trench yet--planting is my priority right now. But I'll dig it (or more likely, hire someone to dig it) soon!
I don't know many gardeners to tag. So the tagging is voluntary--if you'd like to participate in this garden photo meme, consider yourself tagged, post your photos and any commentary you desire, and then post a comment here, indicating that you've completed your meme!
"Oh, three or four plants ought to be enough."
"Oh." I was quiet for a moment. "So about 19 ought to be plenty, I guess."
She laughed. But she also knows my OCD ways, so I can't imagine it was any surprise to her. "How many pea plants did you put in?"
"Uh, about 20."
"You'll be spending a lot of time shelling peas!" She laughed again. I suspect her laughing is because this year, my gardening habits are very different from last year's. Last year, I think it was mid- to late-June before my garden got planted. I threw everything in at the same time--cool season foods and warm season foods. The only thing I really had were tomatoes, and they were tiny. (But I've already told you about my toy Beefsteak tomatoes.) This year, I'm taking my time. Every day we don't have rain (which admittedly hasn't been very many days yet), I'm out in the garden planting.
Yesterday I planted soup beans. Of course, I didn't plant just one variety--oh, no, that makes too much sense. I planted SIX varieties (Old Mother Stallard, Lina Cisco's Bird Egg, October, Hutterite, Jacob's Cattle Gasless, and Ireland Creek Annie), and about 5-6 plants of each. So I'll be shelling a lot of beans in addition to those peas!
Today, I planted three different kinds of beets (Choggia, Detroit Dark Red, and Bull's Blood); 2 types of radishes (Plum Purple and Early Scarlet Globe), 8 types of lettuce (Amish Deer Tongue, Bronze Arrowhead, Forellenschuss, Red Velvet, Susan's Red Bibb, Yugoslavian Red Butterhead, Lettuce Mix, and Apollo Arugula), 2 types of spinach (American and Strawberry), and White Vienna Kohlrabi.
I still have a lot of seeds and garden space in which to plant, but now it looks like it will rain very soon, so I've given up for today. The nightshade family plants (tomatoes, eggplant, and pepper plants) are still growing under the warming lamp, so I suspect it will be time to plant them soon.
I'm afraid to tell you how many different tomato varieties I will be planting.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I know "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature," but really--who's fooling whom? Haven't you read the The Old Farmer's Almanac, which says that April 17 is the last frost date for the Springfield, Illinois area and April 22 for the Chicago, Illinois area? Please--give our poor little peas and beans and other early spring crops a break!
Early this morning, my Forecastfox widget alerted me with a big, ugly red stop sign that we had a severe weather alert for Decatur, Illinois. According to Accuweather.com, a
...FREEZE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM TO 8 AM CDT TUESDAY...
HIGH PRESSURE FROM CANADA WILL MOVE INTO WESTERN ILLINOIS BY TUESDAY MORNING...WHICH WILL PRODUCE A DECREASE IN CLOUD COVER AND WINDS OVER CENTRAL ILLINOIS. THESE CONDITIONS WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR TEMPERATURES AT OR BELOW THE FREEZING MARK AFTER MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES FOR TUESDAY MORNING WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE.
A FREEZE WARNING MEANS SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES ARE IMMINENT OR HIGHLY LIKELY. THESE CONDITIONS COULD KILL SENSITIVE VEGETATION WHICH SHOULD BE COVERED OR BROUGHT INSIDE.
Argh! I have been so good at getting seedlings started, getting plants in the ground, taking care of them, and now this! A gardener's nightmare.
I dug through my old fabric and old sheets and scrounged as many scraps and old linens as possible to cover the beans and peas. I draped them over the fences to try to keep out the worst of the weather, but we're also supposed to have freezing rain, so I'm not sure how effective they'll be. I may have to start all over. I also covered up the few tulips I had sprouting in a nearby mess of branches and leaves.
C'mon, Mother Nature, give a poor eco-friendly girl a break! Bring on Spring!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The question for you is this: what the heck do I do with this area? (Clearly, it will need to be raked.) How do I make it an attractive part of the backyard, which will be, in large part, a huge garden by the end of the summer? I'm entertaining any and all suggestions!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Unfortunately, we have clay for soil, so the tilled portion doesn't go down very far. I decided to use some of the compost and organic soil I had
I was delighted to see the earthworms making their way up from down below into the fresh compost and soil, but disturbed by the news that in the U.K., New Zealand flatworms are liquefying earthworms! This is not good news for gardeners. Let's hope the earthworms don't get imported to North America.
While I was outside, I raked some leaves (which I can't do for very long). Unfortunately, I didn't even make a dent. I gave up on the raking and put some shredded paper and mulch around the snap peas to minimize erosion and retain moisture.
I feel productive for having gotten more planting done. If I do a little every day (weather permitting), I should have a pretty awesome garden in no time!
Monday, April 21, 2008
I've been itching to till my garden, but in order to do so, I have to rake off the poisonous leaves and add the compost and organic soil to build up the garden. In order to till, the soil has to be dry enough that it won't compact when we till, but it seems that after every nice day or two, we have a significant rain.
So yesterday I decided it was time to set up the compost bin I bought on clearance at Lowe's for a ridiculous $62. Yes, I know, I could have just heaped the compost, but my goodness, this bin is black (and thus will absorb heat to help cook the compost), has slots that allow air to flow through, has another level I can add to it, and even has a hinged lid! Pretty exciting, let me tell you! It does everything but dance! After setting up the bin, which was pretty simple, I threw in shredded paper, cardboard, dead non-poisonous leaves, food scraps we've been saving, coffee grounds I begged from Panera, and some tiny twigs. I watered it all down to get it moving in the right direction.
Today was the second nice day in a row, and a quick look at my Amish Snap Peas, which were spindly and droopy, told me they needed some serious planting. So I picked a nice sunny spot in the yard (not in the garden), raked off the few black walnut leaves that covered the ground, and used The Claw (my favorite garden tool, purchased several years ago) to loosen up the ground. I then added some organic soil. I'm not certain they look much better tied to the tongue depressors swiped from a friendly doctor's office. I think I will have to find taller stakes.
My biggest worry is that we may have some hungry neighborhood rabbits who fancy feasting on my tender pea shoots. So I fenced the peas in with four $1 gates garnered from The Dollar Tree. Before you ask, yes, I do realize that rabbits can hop and conceivably could overleap the fence and eat the pea plants despite my efforts. But I'm not sure how else to keep them out, and I'm hoping the fence will deter them. I thought about getting a pellet gun and eating the rabbits I pop, but I'm not all that fond of the idea of dismantling and cleaning a rabbit for cooking.
Beans will be following the peas very soon. I planted a couple of varieties of green beans and several varieties of soup beans on April 9, and a few days ago, they were just pushing through the dirt. On Saturday, I walked out to the porch and--Bam!--they were a few inches high! Last night I raised my grow lamp up one notch, and it looks like I'll have to either raise it another notch or swap the tray for the tomato tray, where the seedlings are still small.
There is something very exciting about growing plants. Let's hope I can keep them alive...and uneaten!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Today, it's gloomy again: overcast, rainy, with a chill wind blowing. I dragged myself out to the porch to turn on the space heater, seedlings mat, and grow light for the plants.
Oh. my. God.
I have seedlings sprouting!
The kohlrabi and green bean seeds are stretching their stems upward, seeking what barely passes for sunlight. It's been a mere 4 days since I planted these seeds, and already they are straining to LIVE!
I did a happy garden dance on our porch, which I think disturbed my roommate as he was on his way to work. Luckily, since he has to hurry to work, he won't have time to call the men in white coats.
When I was a kid, I did a bit of baking now and then, and I would sit in front of the oven, waiting for the cake to rise and get done so I could frost it and we could eat it. It seemed to take forever. Mom always told me "a watched pot never boils," but I can't help it. I'm a type-A personality and I want SOMETHING to happen RIGHT NOW!
I have been staring at the Jiffy pellets every day, wishing the seeds to grow. And my little seed-buddies rose to the task quickly and cheerfully. Only four days!
Monday, April 7, 2008
So today, when I got home from work, I was feeling antsy to look at the garden mess left over from last year. Oh. my. God. I forgot that I hadn't even taken the tomato cages down! We also have a
You would be wrong.
Apparently, black walnut leaves are poison to plants, horses, and...um...humans, at least according to the article "Black Walnut Toxicity to Plants, Humans and Horses." The article does suggest that black walnut leaves may be composted separately and tested for safety by trying to grow some tomato plants in it, but I'm not too keen about eating tomatoes grown in poison. If YOU want to try it, go right ahead--I'll be glad to supply you with leaves, but you have to come get them. And rake them up. And bag them.
[Pictured: last year's garden plot, which runs from the chair at left to where the
Sunday, April 6, 2008
[Left to right, back row: Hutterite Soup, October, and Good Mother Stallard; front row: Jacob's Cattle Gasless, Ireland Creek Annie, and Lina Cisco's Bird Egg.]
But I didn't stop with beans. No, you just can't sustain yourself on just beans for a year. I've added plenty of veggies to the mix:
Peppers - Orange Bell, Chocolate Beauty, and Buran
Tomatoes - Amish Paste, Sweet Pea Currant, Red Zebra, John Baer, Marglobe Supreme, Illinois Beauty, Cherokee Purple, and Beefsteak (my favorite)
Lettuces - Amish Deer Tongue, Bronze Arrowhead, Forellenschuss, Red Velvet, Susan's Red Bibb, and Yugoslavian Red Butterhead
Other Greens - Strawberry Spinach, Apollo Arugula, America Spinach
Squash - Black Beauty Zucchini, Golden Zucchini
Eggplant - Florida High Bush
Radishes - Plum Purple, Early Scarlet Globe
Beets - Chioggia, Bull's Blood, Detroit Dark Red
Carrots - Danver's Half Long, Scarlet Nantes, Dragon
Okra - Clemson Spineless, Star of David
Peas - Green Arrow, Amish Snap
Green Beans - Ideal Market, Empress
Cucumbers - Double Yield, Boothby's Blonde, A&C Pickling
Celery - Cutting Celery
Onions - Australian Brown, Red of Florence
Herbs - Fernleaf Dill, Grandma Einck's Dill, Omega Flax, Santo Coriander, Cilantro/Coriander, Chives, Greek Oregano, Giant Parsley from Italy, Rosemary, Cinnamon Basil, Genovese Basil, Stevia
Edible Flowers - Dwarf Jewel Mix Nasturtiums, Empress of India Nasturtiums
So, as you can see, I have ordered far more seeds than I have room for in my garden. I got a bit carried away due to spring fever. But all is not lost--I will share some seeds and save some seeds for next year!
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
The next thing I need to do is take a calendar and start marking planting dates. I'll start many of my early season plants indoors--peas, tomatoes, and the like--but I don't want to start them too soon, so I need to sit down and do some date estimating. That sounds like a good weekend project.
What are you doing to get ready for spring planting?
Monday, March 3, 2008
After reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, I'm determined to spend a year trying to grow as much of my own food as possible and buy the rest locally or trade with others. Unfortunately, I won't be able to raise my own poultry like Kingsolver did, since city definitions of livestock prohibit such an endeavor, but I will do my best to seek out animal products where the animals have been treated humanely, fed naturally, and are raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics. My cohort in gardening crime, Michelle (My Grandpa's Garden), will be keeping me on task this year (in a later blog, I'll post about the sad state of my 2007 garden, but until then, you can get a small taste of it by reading Michelle's comments about my teeny tomatoes).
I've always enjoyed gardening; playing in the dirt is relaxing and productive. I get great joy from watching the plants grow, and even greater satisfaction from eating the fruits of my labor. So why the push to buy locally and grow my own food to sustain me through the year? Several reasons, actually:
- Buying locally is healthier for the environment. When food is shipped from other states, much more fuel is consumed--and more carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere--than driving to your local farmer's market.
- Growing my own food organically and buying organic food and livestock products is healthier for me. I have Stage IV breast cancer, and estrogen feeds the cancer. Since herbicides and pesticides operate in the body much like estrogen does, I would like to keep them out of my diet! Additionally, many livestock farmers inject livestock with hormones to promote maturation, and I am trying to keep my body a hormone-free environment. Staying away from antibiotic-injected animals also means (I hope) that I am less likely to develop antibiotic-resistant infections.
- Growing heirloom vegetables and herbs means that I am contributing to keeping a variety of species alive and on the market and is more intriguing--I'll be growing choggia (ringed beets), zebra tomatoes (striped tomatoes) and chocolate beauties (chocolate-colored bell peppers) this year, and I'm looking forward to taste testing these different varieties!
- Studies suggest that organically grown food has higher nutritive value than non-organic foods.
- Growing, trading and buying locally means I get to socialize with people who have similar interests.
- Being outside will mean that I will absorb more Vitamin D.
- By avoiding hybrids whenever possible, I can collect my own seeds to plant next year.
- I suspect (although I'm certain I'll find out whether it is true) that growing your own food is more economical than purchasing the same food in the store.
- Home-grown food just plain tastes better.
So...I invite you to play in the dirt with me this year! I'll use this blog to chronicle my experiences, good and bad. Feel free to drop by to offer advice, share your own experiences, or pass along ripping good gardening tales!