Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adzukis and me

Ok, let's get this right out in the open.

Unlike most of you, I am not much of a cook. My excuse is that for much of my life meals have been left to those in the household who have some passion for the process, that special quality reserved for those I called 'intuitive' cooks/chefs. I've been a lusty appreciator all my life, been exposed to many wonderful cuisines, but have seldom been the one who actually does the work.

I guess you could classify my ability level as a capable maker of pesto, hummus, salads, spaghetti sauce, omelets and your basic chicken dinner.
However, I could not bake my way out of a paper bag.
But I find myself doing alot more experimenting these days as both my diet and my interest in vegetable growing has shifted.

Yet I have been making my own sprouts for nearly 30 years, admittedly the bulk of which have been alfalfa...what can I say I love alfalfa sprouts. I'm growing alfalfa just for the seed.

So where do the adzuki beans fit into this story? About a month ago I found myself at a high end nursery/garden center many kliks from home and caught myself staring at packs of sprouting seeds from Thomson&Morgan. Adzuki? What is this? I'd come around recently to mung beans and love them so hey, here's something new to you Randi.
Fast forward: Back home..hey, why not put some of these tiny beans in the ground? OK, let's.
A few weeks pass: I'm strolling along and notice these things..oh yeah..I should find out something about them. I do. They take about 120 days! haha! I'll have to build a plastic hoop over them in early September as I understand they don't take kindly to frost.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Old Bag Gets ProActive!

Considering the measure of moisture out there describing today's activities as 'dusting myself off' is sort of, well, laughable. However I have completed the metaphorical dust off and have set my stubborn little noggin in an onward and upward direction. Good grief, what a sentence.

In any event today involved purchase of Surround, the kaolin clay spray, as suggested by her Wonderfulness, El. That got me started off properly with a game plan of attack for the despised Japanese beetles. I am excited to try it.

Add to that donation of about 30 lbs of frozen blueberries to food bank, (not so much true altruism as I need freezer space for the one thing that have never disappointed here, blueberries. Lots of them/Always). This years crop looks to be magnificent and right on schedule.

Add to that a new grape vine,
Catabwa ,tiny grapes included. Please don't ask where I eventually planted it as the future pergola that will support it is as yet only a figment of my imagination. But it's in the ground and I heard it go 'Ahhhh' as it shed it's plastic pot.

Add a bit of re-stocking of some pumpkin and squash from 'work' where they've been growing on unmolested in big greenhouse and I righted a bit of my cockeyed Vermont veggie world.

So, today's lesson...Never Give Up.

oh, oh I also wanted to add that I'll be making a list of seeds I'm happy to share with anyone interested, mostly flowers but we'll see what happens with the plants as the season progresses. Pinkies crossed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

entering week 3 of daily moisture

And it's not so funny anymore. The vegetables, without sunshine, seem unable to mount a decent defense against the onslaught of insect predation. The usual suspects are having a field day on the potatoes and what laughingly are referred to as 'squash seedlings'. The squash business really steams me as it was the ONE thing I wanted most to harvest in abundance. Now I'll feel happy to get a handful of butternut. I know there's always next year but I constantly think of those who lived long ago who did not have the convenience of grocery stores and a failed crop was serious business indeed.

So, speaking of predation, mine has just begun...just came in from a 'they'll be emerging any minute now' photo shoot. As if things weren't grim enough the Japanese beetles are about to make the scene and unless the weather changes and my vigilance isn't in the category of super power I'm pucked for sure.

Oh, and my momentary reference to heat the other day was just that, momentary. We continue to have below average temps, which wouldn't be bad for somewhere that has the luxury of a couple extra months on their growing season but our window of opportunity is so short lived under the best of circumstances..(Gee, even I am beginning to feel sorry for me now!) Sniff, sniff..

Optimistic is not a label I can say has been used frequently as a way of describing me but I have made a conscious effort to keep the beat at least nominally up...however Three Weeks of this has finally taken it's toll. The solitary plus has been the spectacular perennial flowers this season, of course they'll be chewed to smithereenies by the JBs. And yes, I've tried milky spore but I have yet to find a definitive article touting it's true reliability in this zone and I've yet to see any diminution of their numbers. ack!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Url is in the driver's seat!

OK,ok...I get it. It's been insanely hot and humid everywhere but here until today.
So today I got to reclaim those fond memories of sweat running down into my eyes, (note to self: wear sweat band of some sort). And yes, somewhere I find a sleeveless t-shirt and shriek when I 'see' the farmer's tan I've been working on the last couple months. Don't worry, my cruelty does not extend to you Dear Reader, I'll spare you a pic.

So we are pushing up against July already and I make mental calculations as to the likelihood of my miserably stalled seedlings making it to the 'bigs'. We'll see. A couple of 'perfect' months would be OK with this old gal. I try not to go to that dark place where I am overtaken with envy upon hearing of my comrades having already put up half a years larder.

On the plus side I grazed on fresh peas for lunch..on the minus side I planted very few this year. Strange considering it's my second fave veg. My first favorite you wonder? Spinach. But my lack of success for the second year in a row gets me fired up for 'trying' to grow it when it's much colder, under hoops or in cold frames. I am determined.

Yep, I've done some succession seeding, certainly with the lettuces, asian greens and chards and have harvested great salads thus far. This year I planted alot of the greens and brassicas kind of off-to-the-side and, knock wood, they seem to be thriving. Not having any fences makes me a tad skiddish this time of year but with the dogs and other applied stenches I hope to keep the deer at bay. Again, we shall see.

Here's hoping for a couple of dry days!
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ouch, that big yellow thing hurts my eyes

strawberries, finally
first time trying to grow tomatillas
the currant situation, this is a black currant...now, how do I make juice when the time comes?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

driving home from work

My eyes have lovely scenery to behold the whole of my work commute. Those whose gardens I can see will catch me rubbernecking, making benign little judgements, a throwback to my landscaping days I'm sure. I'm heartened to see an upswing in veggie gardens even in a 'greenie' state such as this.
So today I spy a guy weeding a newly installed veg patch, on his knees, smoking a cigarette. I don't know, it just made me snort-laugh out loud. You know what I mean?

In any event I check the weather and discover we've potentially six or seven days of moisture and below average temps making us all jittery about our crops rotting or just becoming so stunted they lose the will to carry on.
I'll think positively and hope the temps climb enough to prod things along and maybe a few rays might penetrate the gloom.
And if I had any doubts about the exquisite balance of 'things' I learn today that my best friend's daughter delivered a beautiful, healthy baby while at essentially the same time my 98 year old great aunt shuffled off this mortal coil. Life/Death.

Friday, June 19, 2009

it's that time of year

jack in the pulpit
iris in the japanese maple
rubber duckies in shed window
a pear appears
physocarpus diabalo
leeks host web
my handmade teepee for beans..behind is is one huge honkin' angelica
water in the rows
first sighting
oriental poppy
may this peach make it to adulthood in Vermont!
gotta admit everything covered in raindrops makes for photo drama

The blogs are all ablurr with beautiful photos of, well, everything growing.
So not to feel left out I took a few minutes between rainfalls and horsed around with the new camera...(here's when Randi inserts self deprecating remark about her techno-cretinry).......................Cretinry? Did I just make that up? Checking Oxford Dictionary, yep, looks to be totally made up, opportunity wide open here for clever snap.

Anyhoo, no actual outside labors today and a good thing too when each step is a squish and I again thank myself for making my rag tag raised beds,(reminiscent of a Boot Hill graveyard), since there is standing water in the rows. So a few more days of grey and cool and moist and then maybe we'll get some sunshine and the cucumbers might decide to get crackin'.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

and some days are just rainy

We all make these associations in our lives. My gooseberry association is a direct line back to my very GREAT grandfather. I spent my time on his farm following him around like an imprinted duckling, so now, as my own teeth get long, every smell and sight jogs me back to what I now know to have been a magical childhood.

Maybe that is why gardening is so essential to me other than the 'important' reasons for doing so like diverse, organic food, permaculture practices and such. It connects me in a truly profound way to the very person who most influenced me simply by the way he moved in nature. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Grampa Marvin.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

some days are just flowery

old croc boots, indespensible
chinonanthus getting bigger every year
bringing outside in
lupine reddish

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

putterin' and scratchin'

OK, the truth is I do talk about 'the weather' to the exclusion of most everything else. I long for Camelot; gentle, soaking rains at night and days sunny and DRY! Dream on, Chump!

Despite the world not bending to my specific atmospheric requirements I press on... weeding, staking, finding aphids on the favas, lily beetles on lilies, slugs on the everything and well, again, rather cool temps keeping the lettuce from bolting. I'm allowing lots of stuff to go to seed on purpose, all part of my seed saving scheme.

Today I harvested first batch of cilantro prompted by Mike's (Subsistence Pattern) cue. Since my 'gardens' are in no way traditional, mixing flowers and veggies and herbs, tightly packed, chaotic and all on hillsides I find myself circling like a shark on the lookout for 'what's happening', often missing vital changes as lots seems to be hidden in plain sight.

The grandest goals are permaculture and beefing up the soil fertility. It's getting better all the time!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

new this new that

driven from the gardens by the buggy hordes who love these rain forest days...remember the good old days when weather patterns didn't seem to stall interminably? They'd do their thing and then blow off. Too many days of hanging moisture make for happy slugs.

So I retreat to try to 'figure out' the new SLR, (already I learn I need an additional lens), and decry my overall techno-imbecility when it comes to all things computer-y. I need a nerd on standby.

But, oh yeah, the gardens, the woodpiles, the brush clearing, the garage cleaning,and, the 'oh shut up already and be thankful you live where you do'.

It's great to once again have fresh food, honkin' salads with promise of more to come though I am already mentally counting the days til first predicted frost and wondering if this year, just maybe, one of my melons might make it to softball size. What people who do not live in the mountains or perhaps have lovely high tunnels take for granted with their high falutin' eggplant and melon production. Yeah, I'm envious, I admit it!

Friday, June 12, 2009

spitting in the garden and other unladylike pursuits

As fearfully expressed earlier the season has had it's way with me leaving a limp blob where optimistic energy once lived and a blog long neglected. We're finally winding down our selling season so my time, once again, will be mine own and, despite the questionable fertility of yon soil, I plan to press on regardless.

But the spitting thing..it's relatively new to this old gal having been raised even to contemplate such a gesture unthinkable. Yet time and tide does it's thing and the privacy of my gardens so indulgently permissive of all vulgarities, including the occasional 'snot rocket', all the rage in other corners of the world, allows me to blow and snort with gay abandon.

It's been a rough couple of weeks. A terrible time for a funeral when all else is so blastingly alive. I've lost someone and my small world had shifted but this little blue dot seems intent on spinning without a care. Who in their right mind could not be madly in love with this earth, so maddeningly indifferent? We always fall for those who ignore us, ha!

So again a stab at 'taking note'. Wish me luck.

  • How can I rest in the days of my slowness?
    I've become a strange piece of flesh,
    Nervous and cold, bird-furtive, whiskery,
    With a cheek soft as a hound's ear.
    What's left is light as a seed;
    I need an old crone's knowing.
    • "Meditations of an Old Woman: First Meditation," ll. 15-21