Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The growing season is beginning to come together. I have purchased most of the seeds....still need Boothby's Blonde cucumber, Kootenai tomato, and it would be nice, but not essential, to have Oaxacan green dent corn or Hopi Blue flour corn. Also, it has come to my attention that most oats which are not marketed as gluten free have been contaminated with wheat via common handling facilities. So....if I could find it, I would grow hull-less oats (for ease of threshing), because it would be pretty easy for me to grow enough for my own needs.

So I have jiffy pellets soaking as I eat my dinner (a fried egg, roasted rutabaga fries (yum!!!) and roasted brussels sprouts with rosemary) and packets of seeds laid out beside me: basil, kale, parsley, calendulas, monarda, chammomile, pak choi, etc..... These things will get jiffy pellets. The evil tomatoes will go into recycled Ciao Bella sorbet pint cartons. Yes....I love that brand of sorbet that much!

And...what else. I have come to conclusions: I've decided to intern/apprentice with the Riley creek Blueberry farm in Laclede. They are not organic, but because permaculture and orcharding/small fruit production is my long term goal, and I have a pretty good grip on producing vegetables organically...I am going that route rather than training at any one of the other also appealing organic vegetable farms around here. The ideal situation would obviously be an organic apple/nut orchard, or even better, a summer spent at a Camphill Village, but none of these are options due to distance.

If I ever win the lottery (and I won't, because I never, ever play!) I would build a Camphill Village around here. This would be such a good area for one.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

After the old cat we have (she is 11 and pretty decrepit) dies, I do not ever want to have another cat. I am tired of the litter box, the cat hair...the whole animal-in-the-house thing. I don't like having the dogs inside either. It just isn't very clean and it adds a whole extra layer of work to the household. Tired of picking pet hair out from between the leys of my laptop, off of my clothing, sweeping it off the carpet, etc. Yuck!

I love animals and everything, I am just getting tired of them being indoors and all over the stuff that I want to keep clean. All over my bed, especially the pillow, on the kitchen table...on clean folded laundry...etc etc. I am sick of it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Remind me not to get involved in the next abortion debate or discussion I encounter. Every single time I do, my brain tries to have an existential crisis. I begin wondering why I am here, whether I was meant to be here, whether there's a place for me, or am I just taking up space, and whether this is why my life sucks, because my unintentional life is imposing itself in a world where it was never supposed to be in the first place.....so of course nothing is going to work out no matter what I do.

It is a horrible, horrible mental place to be. I just cannot afford to go there. And once I drift anywhere near it, it just sort of sucks me in and is SO hard to get back out of.

No more pro-choice vs pro-life discussions!!! At all. Leave them to other people. Bleah!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I saved my favorite crop for last!


Cucurbita pepo

Reve Scallopini...uh oh...this is a hybrid! Dang.
Fordhook Acorn
Zuchini Dark
Early Summer Crookneck
Italian Striped
Early White Bush Scallop
Triple Treat

Cucurbita maxima

Baby Blue Hubbard
Hokkaido Stella Blue
Red Kuri
Bitterroot Buttercup
Blue Hubbard
Golden Hubbard
Chicago Warted Hubbard
Latah Orange
Marina di Chioggia
Red Warty Thing (yes, that is its name!!)
Candy Roaster North Georgia
Galeux d'Eysines
Queensland Blue
Thai Kang Kob
Mini Red Turban
Pink Hubbard
Ellen's Admiration (this is my own seed strain)
Idaho Star??? (I hope to goodness that thsi really is...but the seeds look like hubbards)

Various types, or not sure of species...

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Harvest Blend mix
Rouge vif d'Etampes

Hmmmmm. I have no banana squash, and no buttercup. :-/
ETA: bought Buttercup seed....still have no banana squash. I can't find any!
Leafy Things

Swiss Chard
Lettuce (various varieties)
Mesclun mix
Pak Choi

Edible Flowers


What a pathetic array on the edible flowers. My seed stocks are really depleted. :-(
It's a short list compared to what I used to have. :-(
And if that still seems like a LOT of tomatoes, keep in mind that most of these are seeds that I've saved myself. In other words, I didn't just buy all these varieties.

Then I have.....


Painted Mountain
Roy's Calais


Bull's Blood
(what??? no Cylindra??)

Beans, peas, leeks, artichokes, radishes, cucumbers (need to get Boothby's Blonde), carrots, and various non-medicinal, non-edible flowers. Oh, and watermelons. I don't ever buy watermelons, so I have no idea how I ended up with 2 packets of watermelon seeds which will *not* grow here. I really like beets...once they're cooked, that is...especially the golden beets, because they have such a sweet, mild flavor. I love rutabagas too and wish I was better at growing them. They take over 100 days to grow!

ETA: bought okra! I love okra. :-)
I'll start with tomatoes, because I sort of feel like being a bitch that way.....(lol....I am kidding!) Tomatoes sell. ;-)

  • Principe Borghese
  • Gold Nugget
  • Kellog's Breakfast
  • Crimson Cushion Beefsteak
  • Cosmonaut Volkov
  • Silvery Fir Tree
  • Hillbilly
  • Yellow Pear
  • Fantom
  • Presto
  • New Rainbow
  • Pineapple
  • Amish Paste
  • Sungold
  • Nepal
  • Black Plum
  • Wayahead
  • Brown Berry
  • Green Zebra
  • Riesenstraube
  • Caro Rich
  • Angora
  • Golden Queen
  • Yellow Plum
  • Mr. Stripey
  • Djena Lee's Golden Girl

Other nightshades: Pimento pepper, Early Red Sweet Pepper, Black Beauty Eggplant, Green Husk Tomatillo

Wow, that's a lot of flippin' tomatoes. I probably won't grow most of them, either, but I needed to inventory what I have and don't have. Notice, dear reader, the glaring absence of my most reliable and cherished variety, Kootenai. I have no seeds for it anymore. This is a travesty which must be remedied quickly.
Returned the poorly made Walmart shop light + bulbs and got a new set up from Home Depot. And then I got seeds...and peat pots...and seeds....and jiffy pellets...and more seeds. I'm all set up for seed starting! :-) So let's see...what kinds of seeds I have......

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Honesty Billy Joel

I like this version a lot better, even though it takes time to load. His voice has improved with time, lending a depth and richness to the song which is absent in the earlier version.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Truck wasn't working, wouldn't start. Inconvenience for 2 days... Opened up the hood....and, easy peasy! The wires running from the starter button to the solenoid (sp?) got disconnected. Put 'em back on and it starts fine.

If only other stuff were so easy to fix..... :-(

Friday, March 18, 2011

I make the best, most interesting social contacts in that hot tub....lol... I would never have guessed that that would happen!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

That was way more drama than I wanted to deal with. Thank goodness for sensible, rational souls that I can call and talk to..... And...how to say this...I am going to have to cultivate the skill of pretending to listen to certain folks while assiduously, unobtrusively making a speedy escape!

Groan....I need that hot tub more than ever now. Ah...tomorrow... ;-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sooooo sleepy. We hit the gym and sat in the hot tub last night, and then came home and went right to bed. I haven't slept so well in weeks. I don't want to get up. If I had a partner, I'd go back to bed and cuddle. :yawn: I don't have a partner. Therefore--> coffee. Yes. coffee is definitely called for this morning.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Made a large fish, finished working on two teapots (greenware stage- they are ready to be bisque fired now), glazed two fish (the sea bass and the ugly fish), 4 small square plats, one platter and a tumbler. I was surprised by how long it took to paint glaze onto the two fish....but this time I handpainted the eyes- emerald green, which is transparent, and black for the pupils.

My kids are all freaking out about the nuclear reactors in Japan....they are afraid. I don't know enough to be able to tell them much about it...but my understanding is that Sweden and Norway were affected by Chernobyl...and they recovered...except for the Lapp herders who depended upon their reindeer...what can I do but hope it'll be OK?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another bucket list item: I want to learn to scuba dive some day. My dad's family all scuba dived when I was a kid...I remember sitting on the boat off of Key West and wishing for the day when I could go underwater with them....Instead I looked at the remnants of the sea captured in aquariums (the moray eel was cool!) and souvenier shops (brought home a dried horseshoe crab) and listened to the stories of what they saw down there.

Now my son and I are reading this nature book about fish, lizards, and reptiles (I got it from the library for ceramic-fish ideas)...and looking at the pictures of the mantas (love mantas!!!), eels, and other fish makes me wish I could see them in their element instead of on paper or mounted on people's walls (the ceramic fish are sort of a parody of that).

And....I cooked what I am pretty sure was a Long Island Cheese squash, hacked it into about 8 pieces, and baked it in the oven. It smelled great. We each took out a piece, put butter and salt and pepper on it...and then Nathan said it tasted like fish. I said he was silly and sat down to eat mine. It tasted....like fish. So weird. Other than tasting like fish, it was watery and tasteless. We didn't finish our pieces. ALL of it will go to my friend's chickens and goats. Long Island Cheese is Cucurbita moschata....generally a good winter squash group to eat from. I won't be growing this variety!

Not a quitter (in case you folks hadn't noticed that already, lmao!), I next cut up the Galeux d'Eysines winter squash, which is Cucurbita maxima, my favorite group of squash. They tend to be good storage types with flesh like a sweet potato. Well, the ones I grew, and particularly the variety I was working with did....this one is edible, but it certainly isn't noteworthy beyond its appearance. I'm not sure I want to grow it, either. Do they get too much irrigation so that they turn out all watery? No wonder people dump sugar (in various forms) all over squash before they bake it!

Clearly, the world needs better tasting winter squash. It's really too bad that I lost the seed strain I was working on. :-(
OK, now I'm pissed. I bought a 4' shop light and fluorescent tubes to go in it so I could start seedlings, and was all happy about it....got it all set up...and it doesn't work! I hate Walmart. I don't know if it's the bulbs or the light, either. Going to get a cash refund and go to Home Depot.
Although I hate picking mesclun, I think it is going to be my first crop. Because: it is easy to grow, I have a ton of experience with it and can make a salad + edible flowers mix to rival and best anything in the store, several of the components can be left to grow larger and be harvested later in the season, and it is very, very early, which will give me an early return. I have no money to make it through the summer other than what I have now...unless I get a job...so that part is pretty important.

Also, it has a relatively high value per lb compared to other stuff. One bag of *nice* greens will go for $4 easily...and I don't know how much is in a bag...a fourth of a lb maybe? Considering time from seed to harvest (as little as 30 days for some of the plants) that isn't too bad at all. Onions take all season and they go fr what, a dollar a pound? Winter squash has the advantage of being very low labor and readying the ground for next year's crop, but I might not grow there next year. And then, like I said, some of the stuff, like swiss chard, kale, certain herbs....will also be harvested when larger, because I'll be picking leaves, not entire plants.

So, OK. mesclun/salad mix. First crop. Later crop from same ground, chard, beets (for family), kale, herbs (basil especially). Then what? Strawberries? Let's say I get a pound of strawberries per plant. They sell for....thinking...a dollar and a half per pound when there's a glut....but never that little at a farmer's market. Hmmm. OK. $2-$3 oer pound then. Is it worth my time to buy the plants, plant them, and pick them for $3 a plant? Ummmm.....they either need to produce more or sell for more. I'll have to look up prices and production.

NOBODY had nasturtiums last year, and I do mean nobody, even when I asked for them. :-( I could probably defray some of my own costs for seed starting by selling plants for things I was already growing anyway. It doesn't take much more time to plant ten pots of one variety than it does five.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Have to come up with ideas/plans for this year's market garden...and long term ideas/goals, etc. Thoughts:
  • I don't want to be saddled with things that spoil rapidly, such as raspberries or lettuce.
  • I also don't want things that are hard to grow organically, such as brussels sprouts.
  • I do not want to compete with agri-biz crops such as baking potatoes.
  • I am willing to put up with a degree of perishability, though, such as with strawberries, if they are easy to pick and can be frozen.
  • I prefer not to compete with other market gardeners, i.e. their main crops. If Joe Blow grows 2000# of garlic per year, I don't want to grow that. Why piss people off unnecessarily?
  • I would prefer to grow things that are not terribly labor intensive all season long, such as mesclun.
  • I would prefer to grow things which have a longer shelf life than many veggies, things which taste *great*, things which are high in aesthetic appeal, and some things which are not necessarily edible or are only merginally edible, such a giant pumpkins.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

I am still trying in vain to figure out how to upload the picture here...I think it has to be resized first. But for what it's worth, here is a link to the picture of my new tattoo. Uh, I guess I should say that it is my only tattoo...lol.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Forest Farming

A tutorial put out by Cornell University on the topic. Should be interesting! And they cover- guess what- hazelnuts!

But they don't have the multi cropping system I had in mind.....

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A cool link about hazelnut farming.

If I could....if I had the land to do it on, I would like to grow hazelnuts....organically. I am not into annual crops in general, in other words, things which require tilling or plowing the soil. First of all, I think it's wrong to plow. Plowing disturbs the microbes in the soil, upsets the layers of bacteria which make soil a living, breathing thing instead of just dirt. It also kills earthworms and insects, and call me a softie, but I don't want to kill the earthworms! Worms are my friends; they process organic matter into the soil, condition the soil and improve its aeration and texture. Mashing and grinding them up into worm hamburger with a rototiller is not only a lot of work, it's unnecessary and counterproductive if you want nice soil.

So I either grow things without tilling, or when possible, I prefer to plant and eat things that are perennial (comes back every year from the roots or shrub) or are from trees. For example, I will buy olive oil but not corn oil or canola oil, because olive oil comes from trees. Trees are an investment, a commitment, a labor of love. Annual crops are a short term relationship, a one night stand.

So if I had a farm, I would do something like hazelnut trees with comfrey (a nutritious herb that has a long taproot and conditions the soil) and alfalfa (which is a legume and puts nitrogen into the soil) underneath, and then run chickens or sheep or really well behaved goats (hahahaha!!) under the trees. A cool thing about hazelnuts is that you can coppice them, i.e. cut the stems (they are multistemmed) for firewood or projects, and the roots will send more stems up again. From such a planting, one could harvest hazelnuts, eggs, pasture/hay, and hazel wood for projects or firewood...every year, with very little work or maintenance after the intial planting. For a little extra work, a person could also plant bulbs for cut flowers such as daffodils to sell in the early spring, and as an added bonus, the daffodils would deter rodents from damaging the hazel tree roots...because daffodil roots are toxic to rodents.

Wish you were here