Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Saving seeds

I forgot to mention a few weeks ago I bought the most FANTASTIC huge red peppers at the farmer's market from a local farmer. No idea what variety they were, but I saved the seeds from one of them. I've had them outside wrapped in a paper towel to dry, need to put them in a small jar to save them overwinter.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes up from these seeds.

Composting

Last night DH borrowed the neighbor's backhoe tractor and took 5 loads of compost from the compost pile to my garden. He "mushed" up the rest of the compost pile, and made room to dump this year's leaves in a bare spot. Hopefully we'll be able to alternate year-to-year from now on. There are a lot of big branches in the pile, probably we'll have to eventually pull some of these out.

I moved the greenhouse from its place by the house into the garden to cover up a few of my pepper plants that MIGHT be saved from frost. Still hoping for a few more harvests. The plus side is that there are a few Swiss Chard plants left that are now inside the greenhouse- the deer won't be able to get to them.

I still have flowerpots, shelving and tools outside, need to find a home for them VERY SOON. It's frustrating to come home from work just in time to fix dinner and have it be dark before dinner is even ready. In a few more weeks it will probably be dark before we even get home from work!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cleanup

DH and I spent some time this weekend in the garden, cleaning up. I took out all my bamboo trellises, and he and I together pulled up all the mulching fabric. That was kind of an adventure, because the one section that had wood chips on top of it, plus weeds growing through the mulch into the fabric, weighed about a ton. We tied a rope around it and tried pulling it off with the 4-wheeler, and broke the rope. Eventually DH ended up getting a tow strap out of the garage and using that to pull the fabric up. Next year I may submit to using glycosphate after all.

I've decided that if I use the fabric again next year, I will use "NEW" fabric, not fabric saved from the previous year. I had a lot of fungus diseases this year, how much due to the wet spring and how much was due to the "REUSED" fabric wasn't really clear, but hopefully new fabric will avoid the problem.

Today I planted the daylilies from Unger farm's Heritage Day sale. I planted them on the west side of the garage amongst the roses of Sharon. This was not my original plan, but the place that DH allowed me to plant them. North to South, I planted:

- Caesar's Brother (or maybe Johnny Rocket Orange - the label is printed on one side and hand-written on the other...)
- Unknown melon-colored daylily (not fragrant)
-Wicked Witch ( a purple, fragrant variety)
- Little Audrey (cream with Red Eye)

I've recently noticed a problem with my elbow which the doctor confirms is tennis elbow, and tells me it will take up to a year to heal. I used the Mantis tiller to soften up the beds where they are planted, but I wasn't able to start it myself, had to get DH to pull the rope. I also noticed significant soreness while pulling on the landscape fabric to remove it. I feel like a pansy, can't do anything by myself.

I've asked DH to till up the garden (to disturb any insect larvae that are hoping to overwinter) and find me a load of manure, as well as move the oldest compost pile into the garden. Leaves are starting to fall, if I emphasize putting the leaves into the COMPOST pile and not directly on the garden, maybe he will listen to me. The heat of the compost pile helps to eliminate fungus diseases, as well as keeping the decomposing leaves from stealing nitrogen from the soil.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall cleanup

I'm afraid I gave up on my garden early this year. I was just too discouraged by the damage that the deer, raccoons and groundhogs did. The only crop they didn't destroy was the peppers.

Next year I will definitely have some strategies for deterring them before they become a problem. Electric fence? 8-foot tall deer fence? Wire mesh around individual plants?

DH is mowing over my filbert trees next time he mows the lawn. They've been there 6 years, and the deer have done so much browsing on them they are now shorter than they were when they were planted. I consented to this, a sign of how depressed I am about these stupid deer.

Our Macintosh apple tree had great promise this year of having a good crop - but the deer got them all.

Today I noticed that the one tree that succeeded in the yard that I planted (a red maple) has marks on the trunk where I deer has been scratching his antlers.

I'd really like to have a dog again!

Anyway, back to the topic of the post. Tonight we took up all the soaker hoses and I took down some of the pea pence before it got dark. Tomorrow I'd like to take down my bamboo trellises, and maybe start pulling up the mulching fabric, which may require pulling weeds.

I've developed tendinitis in my right elbow, so I am trying to treat it tenderly (another reason for giving up on the garden early). I may just cut the weeds off at the root rather than pulling them, although I've noticed using scissors also causes some pain.

After removing the mulch I will ask DH to bring over the neighbor's tractor and till the garden, and then put a few yards of compost on the garden for the winter.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Deer, rabbits, raccoons, what else?


Instead of a garden I think I have a wildlife preserve.


Today I came home from work and chased a raccoon out of the garden. He had the biggest green tomato in my garden in his little paws and he dropped it and raced away. I didn't get his picture but I got a crime scene photo, with the evidence he left behind.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Finally, it is raining

We've had a mini-drought for the last 2-3 weeks, just a sprinkle one day last week, and no other rain at all. While sunny days are quite pleasant, they're not really very good for the garden. I've watered some, I installed a new soaker hose along some of the rows, but my cucumbers have really had it, and probably aren't going to survive.

The tomatoes are going great guns, but the rabbits are nibbling them. The eggplants look good but I've yet to see even one blossom on them.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Family reunion at the farm







It's been a week since the family reunion and I finally feel recovered enough now to write about it! Yesterday we got a beautiful card from a cousin - she said that when they woke up the next morning it seemed like a beautiful dream. Such a nice way of putting it, I felt exactly the same way.

We had nearly perfect weather, 80 degrees, low humidity and not a cloud in the sky, and lots of fun. Approximately 70 people showed up and we had boat rides on Lake Katherine, Gator rides through the orchard, 4-wheeler rides, tractor rides, hayrides, and rides in Maybelline for the youngest ones. We had water balloon fights (that got a little out of hand) and fireworks in the evening. We only had one accident that I know of, and it was fairly minor.

There are some items that were left in a box I've dubbed "Lost-and-found" - a kid's purse, sandals, a pair of sunglasses, and a plate....

The sweet corn in the field wasn't quite ready, DH had to go find some at a farm stand near Grand Rapids (he had to pay $4.50 a dozen! But it was great, very sweet) the morning of the reunion. Our own home-grown corn is finally ready now, a week too late, the neighbor called last night and said it was just about perfect. They're picking it and putting it in a box on the corner in front of their house on the corner for sale to passers-by. DH also called a friend in Muskegon and told him he could pick some and take to the Muskegon Farmer's market, so it won't go to waste.

It was wonderful to see the cousins we haven't seen for a while. Little Samantha, only six months old, was there, all the way up to cousins that were near 90. I only wish I had had more time to socialize.

The family tree paperwork got splattered by the water balloons, and some of the cousins brought their family photo albums which were just beautiful.

The food was a big feature, one cousin brought cabbage rolls which were a big hit, plus she helped with making pierogis. It seems like rolling out the pierogi dough and filling the pierogis is one tradition that brings the family closer together, to each other, and to our roots. She also brought along Ukranian-style batiked eggs which were absolutely gorgeous.

It was a lot of work to set up and prepare the food, and the site, but it was worth every bit of it. We had lots of help from the young cousins and others who came early. The bush green beans I had planted were ready this week, and we picked and processed nearly five bushels, in between baking pies and buying the meat, setting up the grills and the awnings, and so on. I fixed a couple of green bean casseroles, had plenty of raw material!


After all the excitement was over, I mentioned to DH that if we do this again, we'll really need to hire some help so that we have time to socialize instead of running around like crazy getting things ready. I also suggested that we did a good enough job to go into the agritourism business - we could do it once a week - and he just looked at me as if I had lost my mind.

We got back Sunday night late, and headed back to work Monday. Monday night we were too exhausted to finish the unpacking and both of us took a nap. Tuesday after work we started the unpacking and putting things away. Poor DH had to take a business trip mid-week, and so instead of returning to the farm this weekend we decided to stay home.

I didn't have time to even go find my camera to take a picture during the party, but luckily lots of others did. I'd love to have pictures sent by those that were there, I'll post some of them here.
My garden here is a disaster, with two weeks of neglect, and little rain during that time. The weeds have taken over, and the cucumbers did not grow up the trellis as planned but are instead sprawled all over the ground. There are lots of green tomatoes, and I picked the first few red ones already. There is a weird bug on some of my zucchini, I am not familiar with it. The racoons and deer and groundhogs have been in the corn, I am sure there is no salvageable corn. But the Swiss Chard looks great! and the green peppers will be ready soon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Transparency

It seems that the tomato scare has changed buying and eating patterns. According to an AP poll, a majority of people surveyed want more information about where their food is coming from.



An Associated Press-Ipsos poll finds that nearly half of consumers have changed their eating and buying habits in the past six months because they're afraid they could get sick by eating contaminated food. They also overwhelmingly support setting up a better system to trace produce in an outbreak back to the source, the poll found.

(See full article here)

So, does that mean that in addition to promoting NAIS or National Animal Identification System, we're now going to be facing regulation for the NFVIS system? The National Fruits and Vegetable Identification System?

A question comes immediately to mind: Does the increased consumer demand for labelling extend to farmer's markets? AND, will the consumer be willing to pay more to have their produce labelled?

One of the reasons for shopping at a farmer's market is that you get to know "your" farmer, and you can ask them just exactly how their food was produced. In fact, the article mentions that some of the consumers interviewed indicated they would prefer to shop at the local farmer's market because they TRUST their local farmer.

But one thing I have observed at some farmer's markets is that not all the vendors are selling produce they have raised themselves - some of them don't even bother to hide the crates and baskets that are labelled "California" or other locations. When I ask these guys if they raised the food themselves, they usually give me a roundabout answer - like, the "English" guy pointed to the Amish guy and said, "no, he did" and the Amish guy didn't really answer. Talking to DH, he said yes, he probably raised it, raised it right out of the bin at the wholesale produce market and raised it into his truck.

There are no labelling requirements for produce at the farmer's market! Although there are certain requirements for labelling baked goods and other home-produced products. Some farmer's markets may have rules about the type of items that vendors may sell - some are farm products only, no crafts or "flea market" items, for example. Some will not allow you to resell packaged products, but will allow reselling of produce! It is usually up to the market manager to make the determination.

So, if consumers change their buying habits for produce by going to a Farmer's Market, they had better be savvy enough to inquire about whether the farmer is selling his/her own product or whether it is just a reselling of product from a wholesaler. Selling non-local produce at a local Farmer's Market (or farm market) defeats the consumer's intention to buy locally to avoid or limit exposure to food contamination. Putting a bar code on a tomato that allows the product to be traced back to the producer - providing that transparency that is going to be demanded by next year's consumers.

I was just inquiring today about the possibility of renting a commercial kitchen for canning salsa and was pointed to the CIFT (Center for Innovative Food Technologies) kitchen in Bowling Green, Ohio. Poking around the CIFT web site, I found a video that presented the Ohio Cottage Food Regulatory Changes. The audience for the presentation seemed to be small commercial producers, not "cottage industry" farmers. It does discuss some of the labelling requirements, but not in detail, and indicates that the Ohio Department of Agriculture is really concentrating on educating the market managers, not necessarily the farmers bringing products to market.

The video made one thing perfectly clear - the current state of regulation in Ohio is not very clear. The lines between "home" or cottage food may be a little fuzzy. Caveat emptor!

Calling all farmgirls- Can she make a cherry pie?

I'm planning a North Central Ohio Farmgirls chapter meeting in August, either the 2nd or 3rd weekend. We'll be putting on our aprons and making cherry pies. It will be a great time, and we'll talk about the possibility of a "henhouse" on Mary Jane's web site. Please register by sending me an email or calling.

Deer prevention

Went to TSC today and priced the electric fencers to keep the deer out of my garden. I ended up buying a product that you spray on your garden plants (or around the perimeter, I hope) that is made of putrified eggs, garlic, and cayenne pepper.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

D#%!@ Deer!

I see the deer have been making themselves at home in my garden. At least I am pretty sure it is the deer and not the baby rabbit I noticed at the edge of the yard tonight. They've been munching on the lettuce, the cucumbers, and really feasting on the corn. I'm going to be lucky if I harvest two ears of corn here in Ohio.

Last year my dog Chip was probably effective at keeping the deer at the edges of our yard. Since he passed away in January (possibly from tainted dog food, it was a month before all the publicity about the pet food poisons came out) and I didn't replace him, the deer have evidently lost their shyness.

One of my neighbors has an electric fence around his garden. I've also seen 8-foot high netting advertised. Probably either is effective, but neither is attractive.

I picked another 8 zucchini tonight. We haven't had any rain this week, I am surprised they are growing so quickly! I gave 5 to my daughter two days ago, so that makes a total of 13 in addition to the babies I harvested early.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tomato trellises and Cages

Yesterday and today I put the bamboo trellises and wire cages around my tomato plants here in Ohio. It might be a few days late for some of them, some varieties are growing like mad. I can really tell the difference between the determinate and indeterminate varieties.

I picked the first baby zucchinis today, and fixed them for lunch, tossing them with pasta and mixed vegetables and some parmesan cheese. One zucchini plant is looking wonderful, one was eaten by deer right down to the stems (but it's coming back) and the third looks like it has some kind of fungus or virus, the leaves are wrinkling.

We had a setback today, found water in the basement from the water filter for the icemaker - it leaked into a ceiling tile that collapsed on top of my desk. While cleaning up that mess, we noticed another source of water on the floor - there is a leak under the heat pump. DH checked it out and found that the condensate pan is totally rusted. We are weighing the options for repair - the heat pump is old, way past its expected end of life, but still works. Just replace the pan, or the whole heat pump at 10 times the cost? Then, we found out that the dehumidifer that is only a little over a year old has stopped working too. Arrggh.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lettuce bolting

I missed the Farmer's Market in Bellville this week. I have several heads of lettuce I could have taken, but didn't go. I did stop by to drop off empty egg cartons and look for fresh eggs, Joan's mother said she sold out early, if I had taken my lettuce I probably would have sold out too, as mostly the people there had baked goods.

I've given away 5 heads, used two for DH and myself, plan to take 3 with us when we go to the farm next, and will take 2 to my daughter tomorrow.

The lettuce is close to bolting. I arranged a number of my shelving unit shelves over the heads, and then draped the shade cloth from my green house over the shelves, and weighted them down with rocks. Hopefully that will provide enough shade to cool it down 5 to 10 degrees.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008



The bees are still going out for a last bit of nectar an hour before sunset.

Apple tree

I trimmed this tree this spring before it leafed out. I don't know what variety it is - but the blossoms came a week or two later than the rest of the orchard. There was a late freeze and a lot of the trees have no apples - but this one does. I still don't know what variety!

Knee-high?

I don't know if the Cloud Nine sweet corn in this field will be "knee-high" by the fourth of July - I doubt it. We planted it the week of Memorial Day - but the soil in this field is poor. DH had some problems with the corn planter, it gave up the last gasp this year, we'll be looking for a new one the next time we plant sweet corn.

How Sweet it Is

DH planted "How Sweet it Is" sweet corn here - this field has a lot of moisture, in a low spot, but also has good drainage. It should do well.

Garden at the farm




I counted 73 tomato plants and 71 pumpkin plants that I planted at the farm. Since I just planted the tomatoes this week and last I don't know if they will actually have time to establish a root system, set flowers, and ripen fruit, but since I don't have room at home to plant them I guess any tomatoes I get here will be a bonus. The pumpkins were an afterthought, since he tilled up the whole field and didn't have enough corn seed to plant it - I never have room for pumpkins at home.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Riding the 'Gator



We had the grandchildren at the farm this weekend. They had so much fun they cried when it was time to go home. Now that they're gone it is so quiet here.

We rode the Gator around the farm, looked at rocks and bugs and plants, including the 30 or so tomato plants I planted last weekend, all in a row down the side of the sweet corn field. I think they are going to survive, although I'm not sure if they will actually bear any fruit. I brought another 30 plants up this weekend. It was funny to hear one grandson tell the other to be careful not to step on the plants.

Of course they rode the tractor with grandpa, and also a short ride in Maybelline, the antique truck.

The boys had fun fishing in the pond, too. I let them practice casting for a couple of hours with "plugs" on the end of their lines before we put actual hooks and worms on the poles. Casting was a lot of fun, but looking for worms and then the actual fishing was a little more boring, until we actually caught a fish! I was glad they got at least one, so that they will look forward to coming back and doing it again.

Last night we went into Muskegon and went to the Pere Marquette beach. The boys fell asleep in the car on the way, and we were quite concerned that they would be disappointed when they woke up, because the 50% chance of thunderstorms looked more and more likely as we approached the beach. By the time we got there, it was pouring down. We opted to do dinner at Docker's near the beach. By the time dinner was over, the skies had cleared up and we had sunny skies again. It was a little chilly at the beach, and I lost one of their Crocs, but we had a great time. The boys had fun making castle walls, then stomping then or letting the waves wash them away. They cried when we left the beach too, but the stop at the ice cream stand seemed to fix that right up.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

pea-picking

I picked about 2 quarts of peas tonight, an I think I am done with the peas. I pulled many of the vines out. A few days ago I pulled weeds near the peas and planted cucumbers in their place.

The lettuce is just about ready, the leaf lettuce is heading up nicely.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cutworms!

I've never had a problem with cutworms before, but yesterday we got home and I checked the garden and found two tomato plants that were cut off right at the ground.

I will put cardboard collars around my remaining plants tomorrow.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

At the farm

I GOT A GATOR!!!! DH spotted it on Craigslist, it was close to our house, it was in our price range, it worked, and we bought it! It's supposed to be my toy - but DH has been tinkering with it ever since we got it. We borrowed the neighbors' trailer and brought it to the farm this weekend. So much better than riding on the axle of the tractor and balancing on the fender when we both want to go look at something together.

We got in too late last night to see how our crops are doing, but this morning before breakfast, we tumbled out of bed and rode out to look at our crops. The corn is about six inches high, the beans are too, and the pumpkins have about 3 sets of true leaves. Some of the sweet corn, especially where it is planted in the "low low" which is near a swampy area, has red leaves. The same variety on higher ground has paler green leaves. Weird! I don't see that the red leaves are necessarily a symptom of disease, and the plant appears healthy. The Indian corn looks especially good, the rest of the corn looks like it could do with a shot of fertilizer. The pumpkins probably need fertilizer too. I don't see any evidence of the perennial seeds I planted, or the zinnias. Maybe they need more rain than we've had so far up here. It has been three weeks since I planted them, so who knows?

While DH was out cultivating the corn, I spent some time this morning picking up fallen wood out of the orchard to make it easier to mow. I loaded it into the back of the Gator and dumped it off near the silo - we'll use it for the bonfire at the family reunion.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Too much to plant!

Last night I took all the flats out of the garage and put them on the sidewalk next to the garage. Right now they are taking advantage of the wet rain and slightly cooler weather. I am hoping to be able to plant some of them tomorrow morning if it isn't too wet, and maybe get my cucumber seeds into the ground.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pole Bean tepees

I FINALLY planted my pole beans. I made a tepee from three bamboo poles and then used garden staples to run nylon string from the top to the bottom. Got them in on Sunday - just before the storm came through on Tuesday morning. I checked tonight to see if there are any sprouts yet but didn't see a one.

We got quite a bit of rain on Tuesday - but not much of a storm on Monday. The weather radio was blasting an alarm on Monday night when I got home from work that we were expecting 70 mph straight-line winds - so I thought I had better get my little tent greenhouse emptied out of plants, before I lost them to the wind. DH and I moved them all to the garage, then sat down on the patio to wait for the storm. It got a little gusty, and we had a few sprinkles, but the storm passed over without any significant wind or rain! Now my garage is full of flats of plants that still need to be planted.

I am disappointed in my corn here, when we returned from Michigan last week I found that my weed barrier cloth had blown around a bit and evidently when I replaced it I did not line up the slits for the corn exactly over where the seeds were planted. Some of the plants did not get enough light, or perhaps were broken off, and even though I planted 3 seeds in each foot-long slit in the weed barrier, I only see 1 -2 plants in most of them, and none in some of them. It is a good thing that DH planted six acres of sweet corn, I won't have any shortage of corn.

I had my master gardener final exam Tuesday night. I think I passed, I evidently studied many of the right things. Tomorrow night we will be volunteering at the farm doing some more plantings.

Friday, May 30, 2008

At the farm

We spent the week at the farm. DH miscalculated slightly and plowed and tilled a few more acres than we needed for the sweet corn that we had. He planted Cloud Nine, Illinois X-tra Sweet, Early Xtra-Sweet, Northern, Xtra-Sweet, Xtra-Tender, and an experimental variety we were sent by Vermont Bean Seed. We also had a little package of Indian corn so he planted it too.

Since we had available tilled field, I had him plant all my bush bean seed here, then went and bought extra bush bean seed. I also got 20-cent packages of cactus zinnias and perennials and planted a bunch of them, also a row of sugar/pie pumpkins.

He ran out of fertilizer slightly before finishing the beans, so the flowers and the pumpkins will have to be fertilized as needed later during the year.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Garden in....

Memorial Day weekend! Past the last frost date, finally. I pulled the black fabric over the garden and pinned it down, then transplanted tomatoes, lettuce and zucchini. If I remember correctly, by this time last year my lettuce was much bigger, but then I planted it out earlier into the garden. The tomato plants were also smallish, only 1 or 2 sets of true leaves, but I'm going on the theory that they will catch up with the heat in June, and will suffer less transplant shock than a larger plant would.

I planted three each of about 8 varieties, which means I have lots of tomato plants left. I am going to find places around the house to tuck them into corners, so I'll have an edible landscape.

I'm a little concerned about the warmer temperatures, with outside temps over 85, it's possible the temperature in the greenhouse will be over 100 again.

Spent some time with the Crawford County Master Gardeners on Saturday planting a plot in front of the veteran's memorial near the courthouse. We planted red, white and blue petunias (well, really to be honest, they were purple, yellow and red) and talked about some other options for the back side of the monument stone. The conditions are half shade, half sun and very dry, well-drained, sandy soil with a high pH. Some of the options discussed were Zinnia and vinca minor. After I got home I remembered my bachelor's buttons, which should do well in the same conditions and are also red, white and blue!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Too wet to till?

We went ahead anyway. It has been raining off and on for the last two weeks! Today the sun was out and the top layer of the garden was dried out -- but underneath it was still wet. I tilled anyway - first tried the Mantis - DH laughs at me when I try it - then he hauls out the Troy-bilt Junior and tills a few rows and turns it over to me. He thinks my rows look like a drunken sailor tilled them so he went cross-ways over it. It's really too wet, but there were lots of hairy galinsoga seedlings so we just can't let them live. It's supposed to rain again tomorrow, so no way can we till tomorrow, and probably not Sunday either. Doesn't the weatherman know that some of us have to go to work Monday through Friday, and have to save the big garden activities for weekends? (We've had so much rain we'll probably have a drought all summer to make up for it...)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Baby salad greens


I fixed salad for dinner last night and topped it off with baby salad greens from my seedlings - they've really grown, but we've had so much rain in the last week I can't get into the garden. It's nice today, I can't go out tonight because of Master Gardener class - and tomorrow it's supposed to rain again.


I have been starting another tray of lettuce every 10 - 14 days, so hopefully I will have some for the farmer's market days.

I found volunteer arugula plants in the garden last week, and potted them up while DH did the final tilling. I will be setting them out ASAP.

Last frost?


We had frost this morning - I hope it was the last frost of the season. The weather this afternoon is beautiful, almost 70 and the sky is clear.

Master Gardenener class tonight- we're being tested on insects!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Apple-rhubarb pandowdy


I'm making apple-rhubarb pandowdy - I found that the huge leaves of my rhubarbs were overshadowing my little beet leaves so I clipped the rhubarb back.

DH loved the apple pandowdy but he picked around all the rhubarb.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

They're UP!


Finally, after 4 weeks, my Yellow Magic tomatoes have burst out of their seed jackets and are waving their two little leaves at me.

I wish I knew what made them finally decide to wake up! The temperature today was about 65 degrees outside - we've had both colder weather and hotter weather. I think the average temp in my little greenhouse during the day was probably in the 80's but these last two days have been cooler and rainy, so temperatures didn't climb so high.

The Healthy green peppers finally sprouted today too, and a lot more of the parsley has sprouted.

Touchy little things!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Which manure?

OK, I've made a decision to buy local, and to practice organic gardening. Not always easy choices!

I know there is free horse manure at many places locally, including riding stables, racetracks, and boarding stables.

But I don't have any way to haul it! I've considered getting a hitch put on my little Aztec and buying a used trailer, suitable for hauling manure. Cost will probably be at least $1000 to do this.

This morning I went to Meijers and bought 20 bags of composted cow manure. Noticed it was from Indiana. Long way to haul manure, plus the bags aren't readily recyclable. Total cost was $30. But the cost of shipping them here was probably distributed over 50 tons of manure.

Which is the better choice for the planet? Am I over-analyzing this?

Later I decided to take old garbage cans to get some of the free horse manure. Couldn't lift the cans after I filled them, had to call my daughter and her fiance to come and rescue me! Lucky it was close to their house so it wasn't a lot of extra gas for them. LOL... I was at least able to get them out of the car on my own.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Freaky weather

We were expecting snow (and got it) a few days ago, but my rhubarb is bolting. I am told it does that when the temperatures are high. We've had 65-degree days highs in the last few days.

I am thinking of investing in a couple of weather stations so that I can capture degree-day information to my computer. Will post the results of my research here when complete. In my master gardener courses, the instructor made reference to the degree-days for determing when to treat for certain pests. We haven't gotten deeply into integrated pest management yet, but I think it is the key to using a minimum of pesticides (even organic ones) and still maximizing yield.

One of the things that has been emphasized is not planting in a frost pocket. We are in the Clear Fork River valley, and I believe the temperature is lower here due to the elevation - although that MIGHT be somewhat mitigated by the reservoir across the street. Our whole two acres might be a frost pocket. What to do if your property is in a frost pocket? Sell and buy somewhere else?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Snow tonight

I am staying up late - I want to see what the temperature is at 11:00 p.m, I have to make a decision whether to put a small ceramic space heater in the greenhouse. We are supposed to get snow later tonight. I am sure the tomatoes and eggplant seedlings will not like that.

For sure my peach tree will probably lose its blossoms, and maybe the apple tree, too. The blossoms on the apple tree are just about to burst into bloom. I think that commercial growers used to burn tires in the orchard to keep the blossoms from freezing, but I don't see how to keep the smoke around the trees. I thought about throwing a tarp over the tree but read that sometimes covering actually are conductive and make the problem worse.

Beekeeper plea

Bob Hooker, a beekeeper and Vice President of the Ohio State Beekeepers Association, is seeking your help in a matter of deep concern to beekeepers across Ohio. The Ohio Department of Agriculture plans to make cuts to their Apiary (Beekeeping) Regulatory Program this summer. The Ohio State Beekeepers Association (OSBA) believes this is a mistake and endangers the beekeeping industry in Ohio. They are mounting a letter writing campaign to protest the cuts.

There are only about 4,000 beekeepers in Ohio. They fear they cannot generate enough letters by themselves to make a difference.

They are asking the help of everyone concerned about honey bees and their contribution to our
food supply and our environment.

Many of you, concerned by the media coverage of the threats to honey bees, have asked, how are the bees, Is there anything the average person can do to help?

Yes there is.

You can contact the Governor and the Director of Agriculture and ask
them to rescind ODA's plan to cut the Apiary Program this summer.

Contact Bob Hooker for an official position paper from the OSBA or sample text to include in your letter.

Strawberry Rhubarb custard

My rhubarb is ready! This morning I went to the garden and found huge seed stalks that looked almost like cauliflower. I cut them out, and harvested a few stalks this evening. Left the leaves in the garden to mulch the awful creeping charlie.

Strawberries here won't be ready for another month or so -- but I still have a few strawberries in the freezer from last year. If you don't, there HAVE been some good sales on California strawberries lately -- local are always better, but the California ones are awfully cheap!

1 cup rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped into fourths
1 cup Splenda
3/4 cup half & half
2 eggs
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Bake in custard dish at 350 degrees until the wonderful smell permeates the house! About 40 minutes.

I didn't want to fuss with a pie, but I didn't want to miss the first rhubarb of the season, either!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Repairs

My dear husband and his brother spent the weekend plowing and disking the fields at the farm to get them ready for planting sweet corn - we are planting about 3 acres. Hope to have it ripe for the family reunion we are planning in August.

Like always, they aren't having fun unless they break something. The Ford tractor needed a head gasket repair, followed by some welding. Took a big chunk of time out of the weekend.

Happy face in the orchard!

I was smiling in the orchard today - I used a hand saw to do some pruning on a few selected trees and found this little guy smiling back at me! Later I asked my wonderful husband to bring over his chain saw and trimmed a little closer - got rid of the stub where this diseased wood was showing.

I trimmed two apple trees and one Damson plum. I mostly used a hand pruner and now have a sore spot on my palm. Next time I am taking a pair of loppers.

I recognized some diseased spots on the plum, and hopefully trimmed all of them out. I saved some of the trimmings for a bouquet- they were just about to blossom - but we had NO ROOM in the car to bring them home - DH did allow me to bring some of the apple trimmings. I was told that if you don't have a pollinator apple tree (like we don't for the MacIntosh in our back yard) you can take trimmings from another tree, put them in a bucket of water under the tree, and the bees will pollinate your tree from the trimmings.

I also started layering some dwarfing rootstocks that are sticking up, and cut a few branches from some trees that have come down that I hope to save by grafting onto the rootstocks. I've ordered a grafting tool from A.M. Leonard and it should come some time this week, I will practice on some trimmings from our MacIntosh here and then try it. It is a little late in the year to start grafting, it is supposed to be done while the rootstock and scion wood are dormant, but the worst that can happen is that it won't work and I'll get some practice before doing it seriously next year. If I luck out and it works, I'll have year's head start.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring has sprung!

The daffodils are beautiful in the flowerbed next to the patio. I planted some last year that were supposed to be "pink" but so far I have some ivory-colored ones and some that are deep yellow with darker gold trumpets. The Breck's catalog (not where I ordered them) says that some pink daffodils start out yellow then turn pink later, but the blossoms have faded on some of the yellow ones without ever turning any shade of pink.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Inside the greenhouse


I have started lots of flats of plants, but I fear it might be late this year. We've had a string of 70-degree days and 50+ nights - it seems like summer already - but our last frost date isn't until May 15th!

I think I probably could have gotten away with planting corn already.

I'll bet the extension office would tell me to go take the soil temperature. Haven't done that yet. The average temp. inside the greenhouse with the windows open is about 80 degrees during the day and goes down to 60 at night. I left the windows closed the first few days before putting plants in - went out mid-day and found the temperature was over 120 degrees!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Give us this day our daily bread

If we all took this simple line from the Lord's prayer more seriously, think what a difference we would make in global warming!

It is so basic, so elemental, so SIMPLE - only use as much as we need for today.

This concept came home to me the year I lived in Spain - the people shopped each day for that day's needs. (they used string bags to carry their food home from the market, not plastic bags, and they only needed ONE because they were only shopping for one day's, or one meal's, food.)

Although each home had a refrigerator, it was often unplugged because there wasn't much in it!

They walked everywhere they went, most people did not have cars. Of necessity that meant that the people lived close enough to the shops and markets that it was easy to bring things home.

Contrast that lifestyle with ours - megastores where you walk a mile from the parking lot, buy a month's worth of food (or sometime a year's worth in the warehouse stores) - how much do we throw away because it spoils before we can use it?

So, we are using fuel to ship produce from far away, fuel to bring it home, fuel to freeze or refrigerate it, then we throw it in the landfill when it spoils.

Happy earth day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Springtime frenzy

The Master Gardener classes have begun! I'll be very busy over the next few months as I have signed up for 50 hours of training plus 50 hours of volunteer work with the Crawford County Master Gardeners. Saturday's class was on soils, and this week we are meeting at the OSU farm in Bucyrus on Tuesday and were told to bring our pruners.

I've been busy filling my greenhouse with shelves and trays of seeds. Of course I mixed up my seed-starting mixture on Friday from a bag of commercial organic potting soil, a bag of perlite, a bag of composted manure, and a bag of play sand, then on Saturday we learned that sand isn't the best addition to a seed-starting mix. Oh, well, we'll see how it works.

The greenhouse came on Thursday last week, I put it up the same evening, then we took off for the farm on Friday with oldest grandson, so I didn't even get to do anything with it until Monday night. I put some shelving up on Monday night, but put it too close to the back wall. Murphy's law struck, the disaster happened. The tomato and eggplant seeds I had so carefully started a week ago under lights in the garage were on the shelf when the gust of wind hit the wall and knocked the shelf over, so all my little inch-high seedlings fell into the grass. Just like a piece of buttered toast, the "good" side fell on the floor first. I spent the next several hours searching for seedlings and carefully putting them back into the seed tray. I probably was able to save half of them..... Oh, well, it could have been worse. I had only started two trays (of 72 plugs each....waaaaaahhhhh!).

I got home from work tonight and found the latest Mary Jane's farm magazine in my mailbox! I had my grandson with me, we had planned to go to the library but too late, I found that Story Hour is over for the season. So I brought him home with me to see the greenhouse. I reluctantly put the magazine aside, and we went outdoors. We planted some zinnia seeds in a pot, and I let him water several of the trays. Being four years old, he is impatient for things to grow, and loses interest quickly when they don't come up right away when he waters them. I spent the next half hour chasing him through the backyards in the neighborhood; then got smart and took him to the park across the street. He was less impressed than I was with the bald eagle flying over the water - he was far more impressed with the 8-inch long crappies that the fishermen were pulling out of the water, and the minnows swimming around in the bait cans. I spent another hour chasing him around the park, then took him home. He didn't want to go, but I promised him a fishing rod of his own for the next trip.

Then I opened up MJF magazine. Once again, beautiful, beautiful pictures, and the articles just remind me so much of the traditional things that a "farmgirl at heart" holds dear. Each magazine is better than the one before, I can't imagine how much love and heart is poured into each issue. I was REALLY SURPRISED when I got to page 32 and found that one of my posts from the Farmgirl connection forum made it to hard copy of the magazine! See my original post at http://www.maryjanesfarm.org/snitz/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4681 - or better yet, RUN to Barnes and Noble and pick up your own copy of the magazine (or order it directly from Mary Jane!) Here's a photo of a new generation of Maybelline lovers - my grandson said "This is way fun" when we rode around the farm picking up brush with Maybelline - and when we left the farm, he said "I love Maybelline!" although he found her a little rusty. I reminded him she and Tow-Mater from his favorite movie Cars look a lot alike...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Greenhouse dreams

After a heart-to-heart with DH, we agreed to scale down my greenhouse expectations to a less significant investment. I'll be going with the Flowerhouse Farmhouse, which is less than $350 at Meijers.

It doesn't have any automatic venting options, but it is better than no greenhouse at all.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Garden started

Finally! The snow has melted, we had a 50-degree day yesterday. DH brought over the neighbor's Ford Golden Jubilee tractor and tiller and he tilled in the leaves and wood ashes we've been spreading over the garden all winter.

I used the Troy-built tiller to till a few inches deep on the other side of the rhubarb and asparagus, the strip is too narrow for the big tractor.

A few weeks ago I went through all the seeds I had stored up over the years. I still have seeds from 1998!!! I sorted them into packs by year. I am trying to use up the older seeds first - well, at least those from 2004 or later. I have many from Burpee that don't have a year on them. Note to self: Check all seed packs when received and if no year on the label, write it on upon receipt.

Yesterday I planted peas - Oregon pioneer and Alaska, Sparkler radishes, Detroit Dark Red beets, and turnips. I also started some Quali-T-23 and Old German varieties of tomatoes, and a tray of Black Beauty eggplant, in flats under lights. Checked in on the lettuce and greens I started last week in flats - Winter Provencal mix, Drunken Frizzy-Headed woman, and London Springs lettuces. I set them out in the sunshine for several hours and gave them a sprinkle of water from the garden hose.

I am thinking of planting potatoes today, although I haven't planted them for several years and wasn't successful the few times I did plant them. Hope springs eternal, and all that! If I keep planting the early spring stuff, though, I'm not going to have room left for the warmer-season crops when the time comes to plant them. I'm not very good and drawing up a garden plan and sticking to it. I seem to always not have enough garden for everything I want to grow.

I've been looking at greenhouses online. DH gave me permission to put up a 10'x10' greenhouse. I think I may have narrowed it down to Cross Country or Sunshine brands. I need to hurry up and make a decision or he may change his mind.. Not going to let that happen!

A bulletin from the church yesterday challenged us to come up with additional ministries. I wonder if taking leftovers from the "country" farmer's market on Saturdays into the downtown of the larger city and distributing fruits and vegetables somehow to people who need them would qualify as a ministry? Perhaps use the church parking lot as a site? Maybe let other members bring excess vegetables from their gardens and contribute them? What kind of liabilities would we run in to?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

In those days there was no king in Israel....

...and the people did what was right in their own eyes...

Is that still true today?

I have heard so many stories lately about people taking justice into their own hands; or people in power simply ignoring the checks and balances that were put into place to assure the rule of law; or going off and starting a war based on half-truths and personal motivations.

It is simply too bad that the last chapters of the book of Judges, 19-21 are not part of the common lectionary. I never hear them in church. It seems that we could benefit from hearing these stories again.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Old trees






We went to the farm near Grand Rapids this weekend. There is still some snow there. It is nice to see the snow on the two-track, because it lets us know if there have been trespassers or not!




I spent the weekend taking pictures of the trees in one of the orchards. Some are still in healthy condition but others are really in bad shape.



I took 359 pictures, all are of individual trees except for a few at the end of the rows. It is overwhelming how much work we have to do. I did the biggest orchard, but I suspect there are nearly as many trees remaining, if not more, in the other sections. The corner of this orchard has really old, standard-size trees. The blackberries and raspberries grow really densely in this part of the orchard. There are quite a few limbs down and we can't get in and get the mower to mow down the berries until we remove the fallen limbs. Since we're not able to get there every weekend, and have a limited amount of time when we are there, I'm not sure we'll ever get done.
I originally had an idea to catalog each tree and document the process of bringing it back into production. I am wondering now if maybe I should just heed DH's advice and bulldoze them all.
If we have 1000 trees, and we saved 10 percent, I would have to identify the 100 best trees. That still seems like a lot of trees to take care of.


Monday, March 17, 2008

random paragraphs

I've been having a lot of back/hip pain recently. Got X-rays and an MRI and it seems that I have stenosis of the spine and a bulging disk that is pressing on my nerve leading to my hip. Definitely not bad enough for surgery but enough to keep me awake some nights.

My chiropractor is "stretching" me twice a week. The theory being if he stretches me out, the part of the disk that is bulging out will be pulled back into position. He's also got me on a supplement made from beef and sheep liver, spleen and kidneys.... and ground up bones. I told him I stopped eating liver many years ago because of the potential for heavy metal contamination. Evidently this supplement is produced and processed on an organic farm, so, theoretically, it doesn't have heavy metals in it.

I asked if yoga lessons would be helpful, since the yoga movements are also stretching movements. I didn't realize how hard it would be to find a convenient yoga class in a town this size. I bought a beginner's video at Target, but I think even it is way too far advanced for me.

Of course, as with any doctor I've been to in the last twenty years, he told me that losing weight would help. More exercise and fewer calories. Ever since he said that I've been gaining weight. I don't think I'm eating any more! I'm certainly not exercising any less!

On Saturday I walked across the street to the park, where, for the second year in a row, a bald eagle is making a nest. The nest is huge. I can't believe the tree is about 50 feet from the highway. Didn't see any eagles, but a group of senior citizens with a leader from the local bird sanctuary was just leaving as I arrived. Maybe the birds were disturbed by the commotion? As I was leaving a young Amish man came up the trail behind me. Talk about anachronisms, he had a camera with a telephoto lens the size of a Pringle's can. I never thought about Amish people taking pictures before. At least I don't think he had graduated to a digital camera... What will happen to Amish picture-takers when the film-processing companies like Kodak and Fuji stop making film?

Yesterday I challenged my dear husband to go walking with me. We picked up cans and bottles along the roadside and put them in bags and brought them home. It was great exercise. I think we walked about four miles total. Plus all the bending and stretching was good. My next-door neighbor saw me and was amazed that we would do that, couldn't believe it. I was thinking I should petition the state to get a sign put in our front yard "This two-mile section of road maintained by Bright Meadow Farms". That would shake her up, too!

Yesterday morning in church our pastor talked about Jeremiah Wright. I am a UCC (United Church of Christ) member - all this coverage in the news seems to be putting our church in the spotlight once again. But the news coverage doesn't seem fair or balanced, or even well-researched.

My pastor has personally met Jeremiah Wright and visited the Chicago church Barak Obama attends, and he said it is a pity that the life and work of a man get reduced to a 10-second sound bite that is not typical of the body of work that he has produced over the years. Some of the news reports I have heard have made it seem that the UCC is a mostly black denomination. This is far from true, although the local congregation there in Chicago may be a black church. Does this mean the reporter has done little but pick up a story someone else researched? Remember playing telephone when you were kids? Remember how the message got twisted by the end?

The truth is that the UCC is an inclusive church. Our motto is "that they may all be one", words of Jesus. The church was born in 1956, the same as me, from the merger of the German Evangelical and Reformed Church with the New England Congregational churches. Some of the individual congregations in those churches elected to not join the merged church, but many did, and since that time many other churches have joined. This is the church of the Pilgrims! This is the church of the wave of German immigrants that came to Ohio in the 1840s! More recently, this is the church that welcomed African American congregations and also Hispanic congregations. We are a mainstream, main-line Protestant denomination that is "in communion" with Lutheran and Disciples of Christ and Presbyterian denominations, among others. When I was young, in the idealistic 1960's, this church was always in the mainstream of the ecumenical movement.

Our motto is probably more representative of Barak Obama's oft-repeated political position "if we can put an end to partisan politics, bring people together, and recognize that what unites us is greater than what divides us – then we can make fundamental change possible in this country"
than the words I have recently heard from excerpts of speeches from Jeremiah Wright, but according to my pastor, those words aren't typical of Jeremiah Wright, either. I am sure that 20 years in the UCC has had an indelible affect on Obama and shaped him. I am proud of the UCC, don't know Rev. Wright personally but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that the words I am hearing were taken out of context.

I'm not sure what effect the news coverage of Reverand Wright will have on Obama's campaign, just as I'm not sure what effect the news coverage of Obama's campaign will have on my church. In the long run I am sure we will, all of us, weather the storm.

For comments concerning the news coverage on this subject from the general minister of the UCC, see the UCC web site

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Level 2 Snow Emergency

I think it is time to start planting - but it definitely won't be in the garden. We are under a level 2 snow emergency, here are the views from my front and back doors:

They are threatening to turn it into a Level 3, meaning law enforcement wants people to stay off the streets except for emergencies.
The snow is still coming down. Hard to believe that Easter is only a few weeks away, and the peas and potatoes should be planted next week!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Quandary

I'm in a bind. Here it is Tuesday, voting day, and I still don't know who I'm voting for. I have to get serious about doing some research! The candidates' goals are so close, so far the only difference I am seeing is their management style - Hillary seems to be a doer and Obama seems to be a delegater - but that is just an impression.

What are the candidates' positions on the National Animal Identification system (NAIS)? Do they even have a position? A quick Google search doesn't turn up much.

What will they do about the FCC? Do they have a plan or will they just let the current administration remain in place?

Neither of these questions gets much coverage on TV news. The candidates haven't addressed them in commercials. I will have to actually go to their campaign web sites to find out, I guess!

http://hillaryclinton.com/issues/rural/

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/rural/

Both candidates promote greater broadband access for rural areas. Neither page mentions NAIS. Hillary mentions strengthening access to farmer's markets. Obama talks about micro-enterprises.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Farmgirl - Esther Klahn Ritter

My grandma Esther is a farmgirl in the truest sense of the word. She was the child of German immigrants and was born on November 13, 1910. She grew up on Klahn Road near Crestline, Ohio, between Vernon Junction and West Liberty.

Child labor laws were non-existant, but people watched out for their neighbors. She was one of 11 children, and the neighboring farmers, who had recently lost their own child to pneumonia, asked for her to come work at their house. They thought she was a scrawny little thing and wanted to fatten her up. Funny because Grandma is the last living child of that family. It must be true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Grandma herself is suffering from pneumonia right now, she is in the hospital. When I was visiting earlier this week, she told me about some of her childhood memories. She remembered that the father of that family where she stayed was a mailman. Later on, she went to live with another family of dairy farmers. She mostly helped in the kitchen and watched their little children while the adults in the family were out milking the cows morning and night.

The German families of that era tried to hide that they were German, it was during the World War I era when the US was at war with Germany. Even though they spoke German at home, it was discouraged to speak in public, and as an adult, Grandma did not remember any of the German they spoke at home. The church they attended was the "German Reformed" church though, and some of the services were given in German. To this day some special holiday services have German versions of the songs sung.

As a child she attended a one-room school up until eighth grade. When she was given a fancy handkerchief by her older sister, she was proud of it. It was so different from the torn sheets or dresses she usually used for a hanky. So proud that her teacher was also aware of it, and afraid she was trying to attract attention to herself, when Grandma had it stretched across her forehead while she was reading. The teacher, who she remembered was also the preacher, strode over to her desk and grabbed her by the neck and sent her to stand in the corner. Unfortunately, the air was dry in the schoolhouse - a consequence of a wood-burning stove of which I am well aware this cold winter. Grandma's nose started bleeding, but as she was being punished for drawing attention to herself, she was afraid to speak up. Finally another student noticed the blood, got the teacher's attention, and oh, my! didn't that teacher feel sorry then! He got some cool, wet, cloths and bathed her head and hose until the bleeding stopped.

During this period Grandma helped her parents and sisters with the 80-acre farm that was worked with horses and with the family business, a sawmill that was powered by a water wheel. They also got frozen fish delivered by the crate from Sandusky and sold the fish to the neighbors. Grandma mentioned that she also sold seeds from the American Seed company to the neighbors to earn some spending money. She broke her arm putting the horses away during a lightning storm when a horse reared up in its stall as the thunder cracked. They had to get the horses out and travel to the doctor's by buggy in the storm in order to splint her arm.

When Grandma was older, she moved in with her older sister in Bucyrus. She worked in a garment factory and her job was to carry fabrics and partially completed garments from one sewing room to the other. Later she worked in a lunchroom, where she met my grandfather. He worked at Gledhill-Keim Lumber in Bucyrus. At a very young age, he had already lost a thumb and a finger to the unguarded saw blades. After their courtship, when he would walk her home through the dark streets of Bucyrus, he asked her to marry him, and she accepted.

They lived in Crestline for most of their married life, and raised four children, two boys and two girls. One story I heard over and over about this time was that Grandpa was tearing down a barn, and my uncle was playing King-of-the-Hill on the pile of boards. Unfortunately he found a nail still in a board. He was afraid to mention it because he didn't want to get in trouble for playing on the boards, but after day or two he was in so much pain he started crying in the night. They took him to the doctor, who diagnosed lockjaw (tetanus). A new treatment was just available at that time, penicillin, and they gave it to him. Luckily he lived to tell the story.

Grandma and Grandpa bought property in the country between Ontario, Galion, and Crestline. My father bought an adjoining parcel and built our house there. Grandma raised her vegetable garden in the country and had a beautiful flower garden in her lot in town. People would drive by just to get a look at her roses. She grew everything from mint to sweet peas to lilies to grapes to impatiens to Christmas cactus to fill in the spaces between the roses. There was a large apple tree at the side of the house. She had the greenest thumb of anyone I know. She taught me at a very early age the difference between weeds and flowers and vegetable plants, and had me out pulling weeds by her side. Even after I grew into an adult and had a house of my own, Grandma couldn't bear visiting without pulling a weed or two by my front sidewalk - shaming me into spending more time in my flower beds.

She always had cookies in her cookie jar when we were children, and she baked breads and cakes. She insists she baked at least one cake a week when she was home, although that's a little hard for me to believe. She did bake cakes for each of her children and grandchildren, and we had a party for everyone's birthday. She made each of us feel special.

Grandma always said "Hard work never killed anyone" and she has been repeating this over and over to me this week when I visit her. I guess it's true because she is still very strong for a 97-year old. I hope I am in as good shape when I am in my seventies!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Seeds are coming!


It's so exciting to go to the mailbox and find seeds! Some are like old friends, Burpee for example, hasn't changed the packaging (or at least not much) for its mail order seeds for years.

I got my first ever order from Seeds of Change, and found that their seed packaging is in plastic! The package clearly has the recycling triangle #1 marked on it. I find this comment on their web site:

"Did you know Seeds of Change is switching out its seed packs to new reusable, recyclable envelopes? This state-of-the-art packaging requires less energy to manufacture, has a longer shelf life, can be resealed to store unplanted seed, reused for other purposes, or recycled as #1 plastic... "

DH received an order from another seed company for 5 pounds of sweet corn seed - he plans to plant a few acres this year. He is not happy. They substituted varieties - he is very particular about the variety of sweet corn he plants. He will be contacting customer service.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weather Radio

I have been trying to talk to my daughter on the phone, and every time I start talking, the weather radio goes off - warning for high winds, freezing rain, and thunderstorms. In the middle of January in the Midwest! Not our typical weather. I hope they get all the warnings out of the way before I go to sleep tonight! Nothing worse than being waken up by a screaming alarm - I could turn off the weather radio, but then, what's the point of having it?

Puts me in mind of the Robert Frost poem.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I have to go to work early tomorrow to get off early, to take #1 grandson to the eye doctor in Columbus. I really do need to turn in early tonight. But I have "miles to go before I sleep", too.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

scarborough fair

Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair came on the radio yesterday... I realized there were a few lyrics I have NEVER been able to understand.

Duh. No reason to delay any longer - Magic of the internet and all that....

Are you goin to scarborough fair? parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without no seams nor needlework, then shell be a true love of mine

Tell her to find me an acre of land, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between the salt water and the sea strand, then shell be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it in a sickle of leather, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather, then shell be a true love of mine

Are you goin to scarborough fair? parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine


I planted parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme last year - I had NO LUCK getting the rosemary to sprout. I've ordered three different kinds of rosemary seeds this year. I'll look up germination instructions on the magical internet, too.

My indoor basil plant is suffering from something, maybe spider mites? It has little puffy white things on the leaves. Once again, the internet to the rescue?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"tagged, I'm it"

My blog has been tagged by Willow Tree Creek, one of the gals who post regularly on Mary Jane's Farmgirl connection.

The rules of the game are this:Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.Post the rules on your blog.Post 7 random or weird facts about yourself on your blog.Tag 7 people and link to them.Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

7 Weird/Random Things About ME!


1. I'm a girly-girl, love sewing, knitting, embroidery and cooking, but also a tomboy, like technical stuff like computers and cameras and radio, and the outdoors.

2. I have an amateur radio license but haven't used it recently.

3. I drive an 2002 Aztek, and I love it, never thought it was ugly, just a very practical, economical and comfortable vehicle. Who decides whether cars are ugly or "sweet"? And why do they get to be the ones who decide?

4. I'm a Protestant but attend Mass every other Sunday with my husband, who is Catholic

5. Politcally, I'm a liberal libertarian - and a registered Democrat

6. I'm an organic gardener. No compromises there.

7. I want to lose weight but love food and hate to exercise...



So there you go! I am tagging these farmgirls, whose blogs I haven't visited before:

amyartgirl http://www.farmgirltales.blogspot.com/

cherry pie http://www.nostalgichomemaking.blogspot.com/

georgiaberry mobley http://www.sunshinefordinner.com/

Kansas Girl www.kansasalpacacompany.com/

Kim www.thistledewmercantileblog.wordpress.com/

miraclewelsh http://www.foxhillphoto.blogspot.com/

Stoverlane http://www.stoverlane.blogspot.com/


So there you have it! Pass it on!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seed company mergers

Since I had my "identity theft" incident a few years ago, I am scrupulous about watching my credit report and credit card statements.

Yesterday, after placing my seed orders, I was surprised to see that Jung Seeds had FOUR entries on my credit card statement! I only placed one order with them, so I called the company to make sure the nightmare wasn't happening again.

As it turns out, Totally Tomatoes, RH Shumway, and Vermont Bean and all "sister companies" (or acquisitions?) of the Jung Seed company. I've always been happy with the seed I get from Jung, so I'm not upset -- but I wondered why I get four different catalogs from the same company.

The customer service representative I spoke with said that the different catalogs typically appeal to different audiences, Shumway is more of a Southern focus, while Vermont Bean usually has more Northern customers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sustainability

I've been reading about sustainability, it started at work with some reading I was doing on energy conservation. One link led to another, and pretty soon I was looking at the Wikipedia article on the "triple bottom line".

One way to remember the triple bottom line elements is the three P's - People, Profit, and Planet - or to spell it out more fully, Social Responsibility, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability.

Aha! Business in the US is waking up! From the "greening" of the North American Auto Show in Detroit to the new web site for the International Institute for Sustainable development to the Gartner Group declaring that this is the year of "Green IT" to new educational programs like the one at Aquinas College, finally, FINALLY, it seems that environmentalists have the ear of business. Is it because of Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize?

It will be interesting to watch to see how many companies really "get it" and how many just give lip service to sustainability.

Of course, we organic gardeners have "gotten it" for a long time. We deserve a pat on the back. But no time to gloat! We have lots of work to do!

Seeds are ordered

Since yesterday was Martin Luther King Day, and I didn't have to work, I spent a good part of the day perusing seed catalogs, and placing my order. I am trying some new, unusual varieties this year. White tomatoes, purple beans, striped beets, and mini-cucumbers, among others. I ordered a quart of Neem concentrate (it really seems to repel those bean beetles). I can't wait until the freezing weather goes away and we get a good melt.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Unusual weather

We've had quite a warm spell this January. I've been thinking about going out and planting lettuce seeds as temperatures have been in the high 30's, but expect snow again tomorrow.

Among other projects, I've been cleaning out my craft rooms in the basement and the guest bedroom. Not making a lot of progress as I keep finding interesting things that I get wrapped up in.

Today I sorted magazines that were spilled all over the extra guest room. Bought an under-bed storage plastic tub, but found out today it didn't really fit under any of our beds. Bummer.
I went ahead and lifted up the edge of the closest one and put in underneath anyway. Hopefully the guests won't complain!

I also have discovered the International Aztek Fan Club. The wild thing is, the annual rally has been held 20 miles from my home for the last two years (in Loudonville, Ohio) and I never knew anything about it! I love my Aztek, it is a perfect vehicle for transporting crates of whatever to the local farmer's market, or antiques home from an auction, or just getting me back and forth to work with the 4-wheel drive in the snow. I'll probably attend the rally this year if they hold it in Loudonville again.

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