Tuesday, October 14, 2008

September 21 Pepper Time

We have several types of nice peppers. We have far more than Mickey and I can use, so if you want some, come by or let us know soon. We also have an overabundance of potatoes.
The fall greens are coming in nicely. Again, this year we can see that fall gardening is way underrated.
Yesterday I took down most of the cucumber vines because there was no more fruit or blossoms. They were getting old and decaying, so I gathered them up and added them to the burn pile.
I also decommissioned a few of the tomato plants that were so sick they could not support the fruit on the vines. This year the leaves of the tomatoes progressively died from the bottom up. The same thing happened last year, but not as bad. What caused this?
To investigate, I conducted an autopsy. Above ground, I saw only dead leaves. So I looked below ground. I found that the primary root ball was only the size of the pot that we grew the seedlings in. Only a few roots penetrated into the surrounding soil. That's a problem, considering the size of the plant upstairs versus the supporting root structure. It's a mystery how the roots managed what they did.
So, why were most of the roots contained in the original soil? Plants do not do well when they are place in soil that has a stark boundary. The roots much prefer the richer soil and tend to stay there.
There are two solutions. One is to enrich all the soil in the garden. Hmmm. That's not going to happen on such a large scale.
The 2nd involves mixing "good" and "bad" dirt around the planting hole. That transition will get the roots started in the right direction.
It took 2 seasons and 2 marginal crops to concoct this premise. Add, I won't know if it is correct until late next year. But that's how things go sometimes.
Start thinking about bringing fall leaves and other organic material over.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our September Garden September 14th

Our small garden was nearly bare a month ago. Now it is about 1/2 full of fall crops, most of which are at least partially frost hardy. We are getting new crops of beets, chard, green beans and spinach. First fruits again! Lettuce will be ready in a week or so.
The back garden is yielding last fruits of potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes. It will provide a huge number of peppers until frost. On the other hand, we harvested our first tomatilloes just this week.
I used all of the compost from the past year as dressing between the rows of the small garden. I still haven't figured out compost. We put SO MUCH material in the compost bin and ended up with just a bushel or two of compost. Then, when you incorporate it into the garden or add is as a top dressing, it continues to decay - substantially. Within a year or so, most of it is gone. I don't understand how this creates and sustains a balance of soil humus. It seems you have to constantly add organic material to the soil. In an established prairie or forest, replenishment occurs constantly and naturally - but in a garden or a farmed field?
Last Friday night Mickey and I attended a meeting to discuss "food justice." It's a very broad topic that includes legislation, buying habits, agricultural practices, consumer education, the problem of the underfed and the growing problem of the overfed. Everyone that attended took a couple minutes to talk about their food background and their vision for the group. The stories were remarkably diverse, and they accurately described the many facets our food culture. We are not sure where the group's passion and skills will take us, but there seems to be plenty of options.
This past week our granddaughter, Elsa, volunteered to help for a few minutes. She trimmed some of the greens, taste tested the soil, and showed us how to handle tiny seeds with her tiny hands. Quite impressive for a city girl.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

August 27th The True Harvest

Last Sunday the McGuckins and the Lavengoods visited us to barbecue and share a meal. It's clear that everyone should have some daily exposure to young children. Perhaps the highlight of the garden year is seeing the kids dig potatoes - and scream as loudly as possible at every small living thing they noticed. We only got through one small row, so if someone else needs some fun, bring a couple of kids over.

After months of receiving consistent rain I finally had to water the back garden. The
tomatoes and peppers were looking pretty droopy. But that hasn't kept them from producing. I picked about 1 gallon of cherry tomatoes last evening. I take them a day or so before they fully ripen (and crack). They seem to ripen just fine in the house. The regular tomatoes are pick early, too. If you need any, you will find them in our basement.

The fall gree
ns are looking OK - just OK. This hot dry weather came at just the wrong time for the seedlings.

This week we have ple
nty of tomatoes, cucumbers (we saw some whitening of the leaves, so enjoy them while you can), beets (in the small garden), onions (storing well), potatoes, chard and French green beans. We harvested, blanched and froze all the edamame last week. Let us know if you 'd like to try some. Tomatilloes are slowly getting there.
A superstar will be visiting us for the next couple of weeks. If you'd like to stop by to meet her, please do so.

August 17th Is This Fall Weather?

How about this weather? Cool temperatures have slowed the garden. This week's cucumber harvest is much smaller than last week's. The tomatoes and tomatilloes are ripening more slowly. But, we still have a bounty of cucumbers and tomatoes, but no tomatilloes yet.
We need to harvest the red potatoes and many of the edamame soybeans.
We are starting to get lots of peppers, especially green and red bells, which were in short supply last year. Twelve plants should keep us happy. We also have plenty of Poblanos (Anchos), but we forgot to plant JalapeƱos for some reason. I have a map of the pepper in the house.
I've been planting a few fall vegetables over the last couple weeks: red and golden beets, 2 types of spinach, 3 types of lettuce, 2 types of chard, turnips, kale and another round of peas. The first frost is about 8 weeks away.

August 10th

How is it possible? We planted way less than an ounce of cucumber seeds. They seemed so innocent. Yet this past Saturday I harvested about 50 pounds. I needed the wheel barrow to get them to the garage. Mind you, this is a week's harvest. Stan harvested a similar bunch last week and we'll have another mess next week.
Where are the cucumber beetles that wiped out our crop last year? I have no idea. I've seen one or two out there, but not on the cucumbers. Stan's made some great refrigerator pickles and Mickey's thinking about it.
The tomatoes have arrived in quantity, too. We have plenty of peppers, and they are just getting started. Our onions appear to be storing very well, and they are very sweet. The potatoes are ready for digging.
The bush beans are about spent, but the edamame soybeans are replacing them. I tried some Saturday, but I think they are still slightly too immature. Next weekend will be it. I learned they freeze well, so that is what we'll do with the bulk of them.
Tomatilloes are next to take the stage. They are spreading on the ground and rooting as they go. I hope that's OK for the fruit.
I was able to plant a few things in the small garden for fall - 3 rows of beets, 2 of rows of Parisian green beans, 1 row of Swiss chard, and one row of spinach. We have 2.5 months before the first killing frost, so we'll be in a race to gets the beans. The rest of the plantings can tolerate some frost. I hope to plant lettuce soon.
Obviously we have plenty of stuff, so if you need anything please come over. We could use help harvesting and storing. That's part of the entire process, too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More Than Veggies in My Garden

We have been enjoying the onions, green beans, the first tomatoes,
chard, cucu
mbers, beets, the first peppers, and red and white potatoes.
All of these have been very high quality.

The red potatoes are ready and we are harvesting them as they are

We are now getting tomatoes every day.

The edamame soybeans are getting close to harvest time. But since we've
never had them before, we're not really certain when to take them.
There are a mess of them. Some plants varieties produce over a long
time (they are "indeterminate"), others produce all their fruit at once
("determinant"). Machine harvesting requires the determinant type.
Anyway, these edamame appear to be strongly determinant, so we will get
one or two giant harvests and that will probably be it.

Fortunately, we can freeze the excess, but we'll enjoy as many fresh
ones as we can. I learned to appreciate them on my trips to Korea a few
years ago. Below
are a few WWW notes on edamame soybeans:


Edamame is of Chinese origin and was developed in Japan especially for
eating out of the pod. Edamame is a variation on the same yellow and
black field soybean that is transformed into many popular soy products
such as tofu, miso, and soymilk. However, because of its recent
introduction into the U.S. market, only a small percentage of U.S.
soybean fields are devoted to growing edamame.

Some call edamame the super or wonder vegetable because it is the only

vegetable that contains all nine essential amino acids. This makes
edamame a complete protein source, similar to meat or eggs.

Edamame also contains isoflavonoids. They are found in all soy products
and are being studied for their health benefits.

Edamame is rarely sold fresh, but is available frozen all year.

To eat beans right out of the shell, boil them until they are al dente
(still slightly firm). Rinse to cool slightly, and season as desired.
You can easily suck the al dente beans out of the shell. Beans may also
be shelled and added to other dishes, such as salads. Beans are easy to
shell after they are boiled briefly.

Edamame and Corn Salad

1 cup cooked and shelled edamame
1 cup sweet corn

2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (basil or parsley will also

work. Avoid dry herbs in this recipe.)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at
least one hour. Makes 4 servings.

This weekend, since it will be so pretty, we may finally get around to

planting some fall crops.

July 26 Onions by the Bag Full

This is the week of onions, cucumbers and green beans. I estimated that we have about 320 onions - about 5 varieties and all in good shape so far. Almost all are harvested and are midway through the curing and drying process. I also harvested the shallots today.
We are getting three types of cucumbers (pickling, Asian and salad), and Stan has already made some into pickles, which I enjoyed on a sandwich today.
The French green bean variety we selected (Parisian) seems to be a big hit. We've had enough to give to neighbors/friends, and we've blanched and froze a couple batches.
Stan now has a 4 gallon crock in which he's making sauerkraut. How cool is that! The process involves fermenting our cabbage for a couple of months before enjoying or canning. This will be a great learning experience.
We are just now starting to get Early Girl tomatoes and a few Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. The big guns (Romas and Better Boy) are maturing slowly but are growing nicely in the heat. We also have some Golden tomatoes. Maybe we'll see the onslaught begin in a week or so.
This week Mickey used our basil to made pesto. I highly recommend that you have her teach you how to do this. It is some of the best stuff we get from the garden.
The small garden is almost bare except for some flowers, dill, a few more onions and the small 2nd plantings of beans, spinach, chard and beets. We need to replant several things for fall harvest.
Don't feel shy about coming over!

Monday, July 14, 2008

They Took Over the Garden

This past Tuesday evening a few kids took over the garden. Isabelle introduced Ava to snacking on the pea pods and I showed Ava how to shell them, which she picked up on instantly. They did not seem to mind that the peas were starting to get old and starchy. Then, all the kids met at the carrot patch where we thinned the patch by pulling one small carrot each. I think they enjoyed seeing the immature, muddy, not-yet-orange carrots. Next, we headed for the kitchen where we washed them, scrubbed them and put them to the taste test. Who knows what the kids take away from these moments, but it could be important.
This weekend I did some major garden housecleaning and redecorating. Compared to a few weeks ago the small garden looks bare. I stripped the peas from the fence, took down the broccoli raab, harvested the last two cabbage heads (weighing 10 pounds each) and took down several volunteer dill. Since we've not replanted succession crops, we now have plenty of open space. In the back garden I culled a few of the cucumber vines by simply cutting them at the plant's base.
If you want a full or partial head of cabbage, please let us know.
Last year our tremendous onion harvest was followed by the almost equally tremendous onion rot. This year we have some different tactics. One of these is to bend all the tops to the ground when a few of them start to do this on their own. So most of the onions have been "rolled". They stay in this state for a couple weeks before we harvest them. Because of the unending rain, I removed all the mulch on the onions to help them dry out a bit.
A quick estimate indicates we have about 360 onions: red, yellow, white, Texas Sweet, Walla Walla, etc. We can and should start using these immediately. They are sweet and tasty, cooked or not.
All onion mulch and all the remaining mulch went around the tomatoes to suppress weeds.
I harvested our 1st cucumber today. A couple of Early Girl tomatoes are ready for harvest. The dill is up. We have parsley, cilantro, bush beans and just now are getting French green beans. The back herb garden is doing really well considering the moisture. The peppers are small but doing fine. All the tomatoes are fully recovered from their near drowning. Potatoes raising their young-in's.
Helping hands could plant more beets, some squash (we have not planted any), more bush beans, cilantro, okra?, or whatever. The tomato vines are starting to wander from their cages. They need to be either coached back into the cages or tied to them. Weeders will be needed at the end of the week.
Have a good week.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


To be honest, this has been a tough garden year. We've avoided some past mistakes, but the wet, cool weather caused new problems. Our garlic, radishes, lettuce, beets and spinach produced a fraction of last year's crop. And the constant moisture has assured a steady crop of weeds. The farmers at the market told Mickey they too have struggled this year.
On the other hand, some of our plantings are doing very well. We have a huge number of onions, the peas are great, but nothing compares to the cabbage - if size matters. They looked large in the garden, but in the kitchen they look abnormally, creepy big. They are nearly the size of a balloon and they seem to weigh about 15 pounds. Mickey made 32 cabbage rolls with one head.
Some of the peppers and tomatoes thought they were dying. So they put out a little fruit early in one last fling - then they recovered. Now we have a few plants with nearly mature fruit even though the plant in general is a bit behind schedule.
We are just now getting green beans. Their neighbors, the edamame soybeans, are looking pretty good but they've not flowered yet.
I've attached a map of the back garden.
Weeding was the primary job this weekend but we also:
- transplanted the struggling garlic from the large to the small garden
- tilled unused patches in the back garden to suppress weeds and prepare for squash
- continued the pea harvest
- cleared sections that contained spent lettuce, cabbage, spinach, radishes
- planted a 3rd planting of beets (3 small rows)
- planted some "heat tolerant" spinach (I will believe it when I see it)
- planted one small row of chard
- fertilized the tomatoes and peppers (we are trying to accelerate their maturing)
Remaining tasks:
- plant squash
- plant a 2nd planting of bush beans
- tie up the wandering tomato plants
- spread the remaining straw to suppress weeds
Regards, Kim

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th everyone!
Here's what's up in the garden this week.
We are getting peas, beets, cabbage, onions and radishes - I think that's it.
The cabbages are finally really mature and we have about 5 heads left. The peas are waning, but we are still picking them almost daily. We planted lots of onions and they are quickly maturing. We have so many that we can start using them immediately without abandon. And they are good! This year our beet and radish crops have been so-so, but there are a few out there. We'll have green beans within a couple of days.
There is no lettuce or spinach now, but I plan to plant some summer greens this weekend.
Tasks for this weekend include:
- weeding
- continue the pea harvest
- clear out spent lettuce
- plant summer squash
- till between rows in the back garden
- fertilize the tomatoes and peppers
- tie up the tomatoes
- plant the summer greens (chard, heat tolerant spinach and lettuce)
It will probably be wet on Friday, but Saturday is looking like a good work day.
Regards, Kim

Yesterday Mike, Stacy and Ellen Morgan stopped by and we tackled the big job of weeding the tomatoes, tomatilloes, and peppers. Then, we mulched them so that we won't have to repeat the exercise each week. We also tied up the peas (winds were starting to knock them down), harvested a large amount of them, harvested some lettuce, beets, a cabbage, etc. We are still getting strawberries, but not for long. The Morgans took some beets home to try to pickle them.
We lost only one tomato plant, which is a surprise. Mike and I fertilized them and the peppers to speed their maturation.
We stored some of the lettuce, beets and peas in the garage refrigerator. So please take some if you come by. The lettuce remaining in the garden is starting to bolt, so it's past its prime. But it is still usable until it gets bitter. The spinach is slowly recovering from its water boarding experience.
As the cabbages and lettuce exit the stage, areas in the small garden will open up. We can plant heat tolerant spinach and lettuce, chard, squash, another round of bush beans, etc. I don't think I can get to it before I leave for NY in a couple of days.
Watering the smaller plants might be the most urgent task while Mickey and I are both gone. It's amazing that we need to start watering so soon after the earlier overabundance. There shouldn't be much weeding to do the next week or so.
I also added more grass clippings to the compost bin. Each time we do, it heats up for about a week until the clippings are consumed.
I created a map of the tomatoes, peppers and tomatilloes. I'll keep it in the garage.


I just returned home, and Mickey just left for NY. For a while we were both in flight today but on different planes going in different directions.
I will be home through next Tuesday, June 24th. Then I'll go to NY. Mickey and I will return home on July 1st.
Since Mickey is taking a break from dutifully feeding her husband and because I am not much of a cook, there will be plenty of produce to harvest this week.
Please understand that harvesting is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy garden. If we don't continue removing mature vegetables, the old vegetables easily get confused with the newly maturing ones. We'd like to keep everything fresh. So, please do not be shy about using what becomes available. Otherwise it will be harvested and taken 50 feet to the compost pile.
I've not been out in the garden for several days, but I suspect we are getting peas, lettuce, green onions, beets, cabbage, broccoli raab, spinach, and strawberries.
Last weekend we quickly weeded and mulched the potatoes and green beans, tried to salvage a couple of the water logged tomato plants, planted more peppers, cleaned off the 1st spinach bed, etc. We need to plant some squash, tomatilloes, and cilantro soon and replant a few other things. Should be a good weekend for all this.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

Of course the wet weather is really affecting our garden - for good and ill.
I think we've had about 6 inches of rain this week, and this is on top of an already wet garden. Our 1st spinach patch completely collapsed from rotted roots, and the 2nd planting is struggling. On the backside of the garden some of the Roma tomatoes look more dead than alive. The peppers can't figure out what's going on. They are just holding on, waiting for improved weather. The beets are a fence-sitter, too.
But many of the plants aren't minding the rain soaked conditions. The peas are in full force now, we are harvesting lettuce daily, there are plenty of radishes, the broccoli raab is mature, the cabbages are getting huge, the green beans are growing well, the edamame soybeans look great, the potatoes are fine, strawberries are in, etc.
The weather has been a big challenge, but in a way it adds to the interest. How do we cope? Can we somehow make up some of the lost time for plants like the peppers and tomatoes that take a long time to mature?
I hope and think so. You can slow development by not fertilizing often enough. So, we'll so the opposite, will make sure we regularly dope them. And, we won't mulch them yet. This will help warm the soil and dry the ground.
One big problem that I have is weeding the back garden. It's too wet to hoe and too weedy to pull weeds individually. So, when the soil dries a bit we have to get on it. Then, we can mulch most of the plants and put down weed barriers to avoid constant weeding later. Mickey and I will be away from home much of the next three weeks, so we'll need help!
We'll also need help planting the last group of peppers, tomatilloes and some squash. And, if someone is energetic, he/she can seed the areas that are opening up - like the 1st spinach patch. We could put in some "Heatwave" lettuce, a heat tolerate spinach, and chard - the hotter weather stuff.
Warmest regards,

Monday, May 26, 2008

And The Planting Goes ON

This week we planted:
8 Roma, 4 Better Boy, 3 Sweet 100s, 4 Golden, and 4 Early Girl tomato plants
Shallots (in Eli's favorite digging spot)
Fingerling potatoes
8 green bell and 4 red bell peppers
We have several other pepper varieties that are too immature to plant in the garden.
We are nursing the tomatilloes, and they will be planted in a couple of weeks.
Stan has ordered some edamame soybeans, and they will go in when they arrive.
The onions are getting tall and the ones that are tightly planted can be harvested as green onions.

We are starting to get lettuce and spinach. The lettuce must be thinned, so feel free to do this. We are snipping the more mature leaves off the spinach.
The beets are growing quite slowly. I'm not sure what's up with them.
The radishes need to be thinned as well. This must be done mercilessly as the plants are pretty overcrowded.

The peas are looking great, but there are no blooms yet, so we won't have anything to harvest for awhile. But we will have tons when they get going.
Farmer Bill from down the street says we are about 2 weeks behind this year due to cool, rainy weather. Seems about right.

An Email From Clair

She's one of the beautiful flowers in the garden of my life. To Clair from Mickey

From Clair

Kim! I just wanted to reply to this garden update because well, I read all of the e-mails you send but as I was reading this one something in me grabbed at my heart and I don't know, I just realized how wonderful and beautiful and impacting your words are to me - always. All of your e-mails: I love reading them so much and getting just a small taste of what is going on in your life and in your mind and heart. So I wanted to reply to you and let you know. It's truely amazing how God works through people and seemingly small ordinary things such as e-mails.
Anyhow, I have been meaning to get in touch with you and Mickey. I miss you both dearly and think of you so very often. How has life been treating you both? Anything new and exciting? Are you planning any new trips to New York?! : )
I'd love to hear from you when you have the chance. Peace and Love, me

And Kim wrote back...

It is so good to hear from you - but we miss you so!
Your note to me was probably more uplifting than my note to you!. I have great respect for you, so if I manage to bring you even a small amount of enlightenment, that's a major event for me. I've been carrying the thoughts about Jack and the Beanstalk around with me for a couple of years and I finally managed to find an outlet for them. Sometime I'll have to tell you about Humpty Dumpty. Maybe I should do a series on children's literature.
We are planning a trip to NY around June 25th. I will stay a week and Mickey two. Is there a possibility of your visiting us there? We are flying this time so we can't drop by to see you.
Mickey and I have been watching "The Wire", the best TV series I have ever seen. It is about inner city Baltimore, its gangs, police, schools, politics, etc. I am interested in your opinion about the storyline, given your year in Philly.
I am also interested in hearing about your college plans. I suspect you will visit Indi shortly. Hope so.
Wishing you the best,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Miracle We See Repeated Endlessly

We did some gardening this weekend, but much of the time was spent chasing kids around the yard, walking across the "Lava Pit of Death" (that also contains dead mice), playing hide and seek, climbing tress, walking the railroad track, and sitting around a fire after dark.
I was expecting that this past weekend would bring a bit of a pause in the planting, but we forged ahead by planting potatoes, bush beans (two varieties), white radishes, a 2nd beet planting, carrots and dill. The small garden is now fully planted and the larger plot is about 1/4 full. Tomatoes are hardened off and ready to go in this week if the weather cooperates. Peppers, too.

We had some sad success this past week as well. There are two fewer moles upending the plants. Brian gave me a mole trap about a week ago and I guess I've learned the trick to using it. One mole was causing all the damage in and around the small garden. I honestly think he had about 300 feet of tunnels just in our raised bed and its edge. The 2nd mole had a strong interest in our potato plot.

I've been waiting for bean planting to write about this next topic. Everyone knows the story "Jack and the Beanstalk". Given that people have created many thousands of stories over many years, do you ever wonder why particular stories manage to stand out? What is so special about this story that has made it so popular and endearing? To me, it's the magic beans, of course! Everything else in the story is unremarkable - except for the giant. But it's the beans that get Jack to the giant. But why does the story work? Why does it allow us to "suspend our disbelief" about the magic beans and go along with the story?

Take a dried, dead looking bean, stick it in the ground, water the spot, then wait a few days. What happens is truly amazing. By some incredible biological chicanery, a plant beg
ins to emerge. Soon it matures, flowers and creates a pod with new beans. We take these phenomenathey are routine, but they are truly astonishing events. Not one of us could even begin to explain how all this happens.

So, if a small seed can perform such an amazing feat, it's only a small step, especially in a child's mind, that the plant it creates could be grossly over sized and able to reach the clouds. It's only a minor exaggeration of the miracle we see repeated endlessly.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Busy Saturday

Saturday was a busy day!
Penny and Grace delivered lots of straw, some of which we immediately put into service in the small garden. We mulched the peas, the more mature greens, and the cabbage. Penny and Grace also planted more lettuce, radishes and spinach in the small garden. It's starting to look as if we will see some fruits of our labors in a couple weeks.

Then, we turned our attention to the herb garden in the back. We planted several different culinary and non-culinary herbs and mulched the entire bunch. Herbs don't care much for mulch, but I don't care much for weeding, so they lost out. Right now they look small in that plot, but with time they will fill the area nicely.

Stan is preparing the potatoes for planting, which we plan to do next weekend. He quarters them and then lets them skin over to help keep them from rotting as they sprout.
Our temperature sensitive plants (primarily tomatoes and peppers) are still in pots and they make a daily 5 foot commute from inside to outside the garage; they are doing well.
Since we are nearing the middle of May almost everything grown from seed can be sown. By the time the seedlings emerge, we will be past any reasonable danger of frost. Beans (we have a new variety this year) are top on the list.
Hope everyone had a great Mother's Day.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The First Weekend of May

As we wait to get past the last frost date in Indiana, we didn't plant anything else in the garden this weekend. During the next couple of weeks we can start planting seeds of frost sensitive plants that will emerge after mid-May, potatoes, and many of the herbs.
I brought 12 tomato plants home from my office in Kokomo and am hardening them off on the back porch. They got very tall in the windows of my office - so tall and skinny that I had to cut nearly 2 feet off the top of the plants. They were too leggy because our tinted windows block out a portion of the light spectrum. The tomatoes and peppers I've been babying at home are doing very well.
Moles - or mole. We have at least one that is ravishing the small garden. Brian purchased a trap that we'll put into service this week. I hope to publish funeral arrangements next week.
I tilled the south 1/2 of the back garden and incorporated fertilizer. The tiller had a major structural failure the last time we used it. Robert Carter was kind enough to weld a couple of steel brackets on it to support its weight. Now it runs like a sewing machine, well, one that bucks and drags you around.
Most of the plants we've bought are root bound, so I have been transplanting them in larger pots for a couple weeks before setting them in the garden.
One more thing - VOTE.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's showing some green.

This week the garden finally began showing some green. Most of the seeds we planted are emerging, albeit, slowly - except for the peas. For some reason they are acting as if someone shot a starting gun at a race, whereas last year we had a poor germination rate. We've planted several varieties of onions, hoping to score with a couple and to have plenty to harvest early. The next step is potato planting.
It's time to plant a second wave of greens and radishes, so if someone is interested, come over.
Mickey's making plans for the herb garden and we purchased a few plants for it. That garden will be established in stages as is appropriate for each herb.
We will soon need some straw. Now that we have a better idea of how much straw we use in a season (10-12 bales), I think that it may be easier to purchase all the straw at once. If someone has access to a truck and is willing to tackle this, let me know.

Temple of Awesome
OK, so what's with the Temple of Awesome? Let me try to explain while I try to avoid offending the creators, one of which is a close family member.
A few New York artists are midway through an art project that involves their friends and acquaintances. The basic idea is that they are making thousands of small white origami cubes, which they will ultimately inflate and assemble into the Temple of Awesome.
Upon visiting the website, Penny's response is probably typical. She thought that I might have sent another incorrect web address. She responded with, "that web address just had someone making a cube from paper."
The project was inspired by a Japanese temple, and of course there is the link between Japan and origami . . . but WHAT?!?!?!?
Well, here's how I interpreted the project.
Humans have an innate need to assemble. Back in the day (way back) we used to do it out of physical necessity for protection, to gather food, to share resources or shelter - to satisfy genuinely basic needs. Now, we no longer need close community involvement to meet those needs. We are now free from the necessity of relying on close personal relationships to sustain life, but we haven't lost the psychological need to interact with others.
The need is fixed so firmly in our makeup that you see evidence of it in many of the institutions we create. Think of an antique car owners club, for example. Can you imagine one of these poor souls toiling away in their garage all alone and never going to one of those shows, never sitting under the tree watching people admire his (is it ever a her?) car, and never talking about his car with people that share the same passion? It's hard to envision the hobby apart from a group.
I suspect that sometimes the primary purpose and motivation for gathering is not the stated purpose of the event but the gathering itself. The TOA artists and their friends meet, interact, have fun, talk about what they are up to - and fold paper.
Similarly, a community garden's greatest benefit is not the fresh vegetables, the knowledge we gain, the exercise we get, the new food practices we develop, its reduced ecological impact, etc. It's that it provides a setting for forming and nurturing personal relationships. It's simply an excuse with plenty of other benefits.
PS (for Penny) - No snake sightings this week.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Sunday Afternoon Planting Day

Hi boys and girls!
This weekend was a big one for the garden. We are starting to see seedlings (lettuce, peas, spinach, beets) emerge. The lettuce and cabbage transplants from Stan are regrowing after transplanting. We planted radishes, more onions, even more onions, and broccoli raab. (Every update is a spelling challenge for me. Know why? I think it is because so many of our plants are from other regions of the world and they take their local names.) The little garden is >1/2 planted. The back garden is 1/3 tilled but nothing's out there yet.
Indoors, Stan and I have planted lots of crazy stuff, and we are stumbling through growing viable transplants. We have some successes and several miscues as well. One lesson we learned this year is that the cold weather transplants can get spindly to the point of not being able to support themselves when placed outdoors. For cold weather crops, this is possibly due to too little light and too high a temperature, common conditions indoors.
Today Mickey and I purchased some herbs for the back herb garden, a new project this year.
Maybe the big news is the success with the compost pile. It's hot! Actually, this was pretty amazing. As you know, our compost bin - well, it wasn't a compost bin because it wasn't composting anything. It was just storing our compost material until we figured out how to kickstart it. On Friday afternoon it was cool as ever and packed with lots of leaves. I've seen non-mulched leaves take ~3 years to decay, and I couldn't bear to think of fiddling with those leaves for the next few years. So, I took everything out of the bins, placed it on the back garden and mowed the dickens out of it. Then I placed everything back in the bin, added some 12/12/12, and watered it. I had no expectation of any other outcome. But Sunday afternoon, we witnessed the magic, the pile was actually steaming.
I included this little story for a couple reasons. First, it's amazing how some things work so well under the right conditions, but only under those conditions. After all, last year we tried everything we did this past week. But we didn't have the formula quite right. When we got it right, we got almost instant results. Second, this incident illustrates one of the reasons I garden - it's that I am inquisitive. I love to understand how things work, and often a garden is a puzzle to work on.
Here's another lesson learned this week. Last year we had a HUGE onion harvest. Remember that? Probably not because you didn't see many onions because they all rotted 2 to 3 weeks after the harvest. We found out why, we think. We used onions that are intended to produce onion greens, not bulbs. The curious thing is that the bulb-looking baby onions (sets) produce onion greens. If you want to produce bulbs, you plant the ones that look like they'd produce greens! They call these "slips". Who'd a thought?

Rebecca and Libby stopped by this past Monday evening, and we had a great time planning her garden. Somehow Mickey and I ended up coloring with Libby and Rebecca. We had at least as much fun coloring as we did planning. (Libby, thanks for the color selection tips.) This experience is related to the "Temple of Awesome" that I mentioned last week.
OK. "Temple of Awesome", what's that? It's an art project that Asa is helping a friend create. It's most easily understood by visiting www.templeofawesome.com and seeing things for yourself. You can even participate if you like. The artists have their idea of what the project means, but it means something a little different to me. If you give the project much thought, you could quickly conclude that it doesn't have much of a point. To me -
Well, it's getting late. I'll tell you in the next update.
Regards, Kim