Wednesday, January 31, 2007


This is a composite image out our north living room window. That's a big storm coming our way off the lake yesterday morning. (That's also the wooded half of the property; it's about 2.5 acres.) M missed school both M&T and we got quite a bit more of the fluffy white stuff on Tuesday. Now, it's just windy, so shoveling is still required.

I love the quality of sound (or rather, lack thereof) when things are snowcovered. We can't hear any cars, but we can hear the roar of the waves on the lake.

We've gotten the snowshoes AND the x-c skis out, and dragged M behind us on her sled... I really love winter, even though it's not gardening season.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A book review

Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web (Lowenfels, Jeff and Lewis, Wayne; Timber Press, Portland, OR; 2006)

Now, here is a useful book. There was enough handy information that even a seasoned organic gardener like myself could still glean a few kernels of wisdom from it. Here's the spoiler: "Rule #2 holds that most vegetables, annuals, and grasses prefer their nitrogen in nitrate form and do best in bacterially dominated soils. Rule #3 points out that most trees, shrubs and perennials prefer their nitrogen in ammonium form and do best in fungally dominated soils."

I also want to use the word "exudates" in a sentence now. Or at least in cocktail conversation. Cocktail conversation that does NOT include compost tea.

Forget about the idea for a second that the average human has a hard time with the concept of a "web." Maybe it's New Math (I certainly was a product), but most fields of study are linear in nature, and thus webs are kind of hard to conceptualize. That said, to team with the teeming trillions found in a tablespoon of soil is the stated purpose of this book. They have detours, they kind of get caught up in a few reductivist, or at least quantitative, digressions into these trillions...but I suppose that was important, considering the subject matter.

Here's the rub, kids: soil is a living thing, or at least the host to trillions of living things. If you did not know that before, then you are probably not a gardener. Most folks know there're earthworms in the soil. But there's more to love than your average red wiggler.

There were a couple of things that stood out (i.e., annoyed the crap out of me) while reading this. One: "spouse"="wife," we get it. That your wives weren't that keen about your raids of the pantry for brewing compost tea is your business: don't lump the rest of us in that category, mainly because there are a lot of single gardeners out there, and there are a lot of wives who garden (ahem.). And two: doesn't this whole compost tea-brewing obsession seem to any of you to be, well, the graying of your average basement beer brewer? Maybe it's my particular demographic, but most beer-loving boys I know got into beer-brewing about age 25 or so, or at least when they had their first basement. I also thought the authors were showing their true colors (or at least their woo-woo bona fides) by giving us instructions to make our own fish hydrolysate by adding papain (aka papaya peptidase). Yep. Right there on the top shelf of MY pantry.

And the whole don't-use-manure-in-your-compost thing because of (eeks!) E. coli. seems really like a lawsuit-avoidance tactic. Your average Nelly Nag down the road is not fed the same gut-turning crap your commercial Bessie is, so I would think this is a bit disingenuous on the authors' part.

But the biggest apostacy of course is the throw-your-tiller-away dictum. Yes, we now fully understand how continued, twice-yearly tilling breaks the long strands of fungal hyphae. Hmm. Understood; understand. However. If one is to throw down the gantlet like this, I suppose I would've appreciated an alternative. My own little circle of hell here is clay soil. Before the tiller, in creating my garden beds, I was out there with a 10-lb. mattock. (Granted, I was a breastfeeding stay-at-home mother at that time so I felt my yin was way off my yang and I needed a butch-ifying outlet. This is also the time I took up with a chainsaw. But enough about me.) So yes, the only time I get out there and chop up the soil is when I bust the sod for new garden beds. Scraping the grass away daintily at the rootline was a hobby I could enjoy in my small city lot. Now, well. Manifest destiny.

And that brings me to the best line(s) of the book: "The organisms in the compost you apply...will spread life as far as they can. It is microbial manifest destiny."

Eat or be eaten, kiddos. Go out and feed the eaters.

(and thank you, Carol, for your book club!)

Monday, January 29, 2007

A thumping

Our Januaries usually have 68" of snow. That is not a typo: we really SHOULD be under a thick blanket. The snowfall comes from Lake Michigan, of which we are its southeast shore. The white stuff comes down daily, usually, and usually only an inch or two, with maybe one to three storms that make up the difference to become 68".

This month, as part of a highly unusual season, has had maybe 8-12", and it mostly melted by the sun's warm rays. Well. The clouds must have realized they were in deficit for the month, and now are hurrying to make their quota. We received about 20" over the weekend, and are due up to another 10" through tomorrow.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


We're on the road this weekend, coinciding with M's third birthday.

Have a good weekend, everyone, and think green thoughts.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Page gardening: Visions of grandeur

The greenhouse bed last fall

So I read another one of this bloke's books recenly, this one about small-scale vegetable production (as in, sell the things) and somehow I am convinced that my land is being underused. Hmm. Maybe it is possible for me to produce EVERYTHING my family of three needs for a year, and not just 60% of it.

Beware the January garden, in other words. Lots of ideas, no weeds.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Page gardening, part II

Recently purchased: excuse the blobby nature, I nabbed it from the web.

I'd been contemplating a coldframe greenhouse since I read this book a few years ago. (I read the book as a citydweller in a very cold climate so it shows how elaborate my January gardening plans tend to get.) Well, this is the year! After what seemed like an unending search for a simple structure, I found a manufacturer within a half hour from our house. And they'll ship the whole dang thing. Buy local!

SO. Yes, I would be more ahead of the game had I purchased this thing last fall, but hey, life has a way of getting in the way of one's dreams. A 14'x20' coldframe will soon be erected behind the icehouse (Tom's tractor shed). It'll face south, and have (8)3'x6' and (1)2'x14' raised beds in it. I will use it mainly for cold-season stuff all winter, and will put mainly root crops and some perennial veggies in it during the regular growing season.

I'm beyond excited. I am giddy!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Page gardening, part I

Not much I can do here

It's January, and it seems I can rant just fine about food production. It's January, and we're finally snow-covered, so I can't do much outside. I do my gardening now mostly with pages: in my notebooks, in books, on the Web. So I was reading here recently about putting more "fun" into your veg garden this year. Well, I think gardening IS fun, 95% of the time, but I understand how people can distracted, or even discouraged, in the edibles department: there's a lot of work involved, for sometimes very little payoff.

I thought about my (fun) plans for this year's garden, and the one new-to-me item I have ordered is sea kale. Now, this is an interesting factoid. I have consumed nearly every American publication on vegetable production...or so it would seem, between my sagging bookshelves and my worn-out library card. Either every book has the same information (and package the info. differently), or there really isn't much that is new(s) to me, U.S.-garden-wise. It's when I stumble across non-American books that my learning really climbs (or my ignorance does; your choice). Thus, the sea kale, a vegetable I didn't know. I found it in one of my all-time fave organic books. It's British.

In it I have learned many little semantic differences between the U.S. veg garden and one found in the U.K. (You'd expect this, especially if you've ever traveled there, especially in the company of a guy named Randy...but I digress.) But it goes further. They call something purple "broccoli" and something green "calabrese," whereas we certainly don't have the purple stuff growing in OUR gardens. There's a boatload of other cultural (literally: soil culture on up) differences that I have gleaned from this, and other, books from the U.K.

But it really has me thinking. If I've learned as much as I have from one garden book from a country so similar to my own, I can only imagine what I would learn from a book from China, with its 4,000+ year old gardens. Or Peru, with their ancient terraces of potatoes. Or all the squashes and gourds in Africa. Or Iraq and Iran, the site of the Fertile Crescent, and 11,000 years of cultivation.

And somehow I am not so smug about what I know, for I know nothing!

But just think about all the new veggies I could get for my garden....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On polemicism

John William Waterhouse, The Crystal Ball, 1902
Being a polemicist is hard work, I will have you know. It's so much easier to post a cute pic of one of my chickens.

If I had a crystal ball, this might be what I would see for the food future in this country. (Please file this in the "if wishes were horses" category.)

If health care became nationalized, it would be in the government's long-term financial interest to promote healthful food. A country of people eating good food (and also exercising regularly and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol) has a better chance of having less costly chronic diseases like Type II diabetes. In other words, the government might look at the financial calculus of its subsidy system of things like soya and corn and perhaps, maybe, help smaller farmers and better uses of land. And then of course people would need to be educated regarding what constitutes healthful food, and the making thereof, so nutrition and home economics classes would again become standard curricula in the public schools. (Oh, and recess, too.)

But I don't have a crystal ball. Because we are a nation of consumers, companies are always pursuing the cheapest (excuse me, "most cost-effective") way of doing things. They're also hep to following trends: thus, even Y'All-Mart is selling organic produce and meat/dairy. And even tomatoes can be trendy, as we have seen. And the government is only going to do the will of its people: we get what we deserve, especially considering how few people actually exercise their right to vote.

My friend posed the food issue (specifically, the organic food issue) in a socioeconomic light by challenging me to come up with a budget for a fully-employed family of five living at/below the poverty level. Regarding the lower class, yes, there's a certain amount of paternalism that we, and our government, usually adopt towards people's poor food choices, especially when children are involved. There is no easy answer here.

But my argument is that our country's poor food (production, selection, availability, subsidies, etc.) is NOT a class issue. It's a national issue, and it affects Paris Hilton as much as it does Reagan's welfare queens. It's also a cultural one, and culture, as we know, is exportable: thus, one finds Starbucks in the Forbidden City, McDonald's in North Korea. So we're exporting our bad food choices, and others are embracing them, because somehow being American is "cool."

I am encouraged by the small instances of pushback, the little steps others have made, like the French farmer who bulldozed a McDonald's and the great work Carlo Petrini and his friends have done with Slow Food. In particular, the idea of terroir is probably the only one I feel will probably stick in this country of stripmalls: the idea that one's special place on the globe can produce, and has a tradition of producing, a great food commodity. (We are a nation of consumers, after all.) Thus, Washington apples, Michigan cherries, Minnesota wild rice, Texas grapefruit: isn't that as patriotic as seeing your local highschool team's photo on the wall of your local Applebee's? But then maybe I am naive to think that "place" is something one can still feel strongly about, especially with the highly mobile nature of the average American family.

I am also encouraged by things like Eat Local challenges. In fact, I am most encouraged by the internet in general, and blogging in particular. (You have found me, haven't you, and I certainly have had much to learn by all that you have had to say, whether it's here or on your own respective blogs.) This is a conversation we are having, and hopefully, it's a conversation we will continue to have, whether it's at our own dinnertables, at our kids' schools or homeschool groups, and hopefully, with our own elected representatives. We can vote with our pocketbooks, too. In fact, it's our money that seems to speak even louder than our votes. SO if there's something that chaps YOUR hide regarding our food, make sure you get out and shout out. Do something!

Monday, January 22, 2007

A challenge

My hero, Howard Beale.*

I am not sure what it's going to take to get people worked up about the crappy quality of their food. Education, surely. A little effort. Maybe less time spent in front of the t.v.

I got an email from a dear friend yesterday. (Funny: I had considered using his daughter as an example of the sorry state of meat in this country. They moved back here from France, and he sent her to the meat aisle at their grocery store to pick up some chicken, and she returned saying she couldn't find it. He went to the meat aisle with her and pointed out the chicken. "That's not chicken, that's turkey," she said (in French).)

Hi sweetie,

I have a challenge for you, or I should say, an interesting problem. I’m following your blog rants and nodding so hard my neck is stiff. What’s amazing to me is that there is a need for this discussion.

I’ve heard several debates on this and doing the quick math in my head tells me there is something here worth figuring out.

However here’s the challenge:

Assume two heads of household earning minimum wage each at a full-time, no benefits, job. Assume one has another half-time job eating up evenings, weekends etc. Assume three kids between 10 and 4. Assume this family lives in a place like C_____ (i.e. far from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and maybe even a real truck farmers market). Assume they have one car. Assume whatever patchwork child care is in place consumes a considerable portion of the week’s budget and that the care-givers can not contribute to household chores. Assume there are no huge debts or expensive problems from the past. Assume everyone is healthy but using the clinic for care. Kids are public school and get subsidized breakfast and lunch at school.

Design a menu for one month. Logistics obviously must be accounted for.

No fair inventing a local mom and pop organic grocer who give away food. Kids can’t be relied on as garden tenders. And there’s no cow out back.

I think, frankly, that much has been lost in our access to the "progress" our modern grocery store represents. Finding nutritional, unadulterated food WITHIN a grocery store is also something of an art. And then there's family pressure (kids, relatives) of those who really aren't willing to go along with "new foods." Whole foods take longer to cook. Time's a big issue for people who love their televisions. And then there's that very un-American thing: cooking! Cooking without opening a can or a package, cooking without the microwave. Cooking has also died a slow death, despite the rise of cooking shows on t.v.

So I don't know how to respond to my friend's challenge. Do you?

*he of the movie Network, and the tirade "I want you to go to the window, open it, stick your heads out and yell, 'I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!'" The problem with Mr. Beale of course is that he ranted and ranted, and then nobody wished to listen to him after a while.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The end (?) of the rant

Not me. Me.

In life, I really am not a Chicken Little kind of person. Sure, I am a pessimist, but I am not...extreme. But still. When things are waved in front of my face, I'm not very adept at pretending they're not there.

This article, for instance. It points up that by heavily investing in speculative agricultural futures, we're basically one (more) mad cow away from a collapse. "The flood of investment has raised concerns among grain traders and agricultural producers that speculative money is gaining an undue influence over their markets, which help set the prices of raw commodities for a host of consumer food products."

I think it's the behind-the-scenes stuff like this that really galls me. This, and our acceptance of "dirty" meat, and now "dirty" spinach, etc., and then the general bad food choices the majority of us make. Sure, I have the option of retreating back to my little farm and pretending it's still 1925. Or I can take a tip from Dr. Strangelove: I can simply learn to stop worrying and love the trans fats!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why aren't people more upset?

A good pile of crap: a compost heap (I am still on a tear; bear with me. I will be back to regular old garden blogging soon, maybe. You'll have to wait until the storm clears.)

Again: why aren't people more pissed off about the crappy quality of their food? Why doesn't it upset them that people die from eating fast food, either quickly via e. coli or slowly, via coronary artery disease? And how about some salmonella in your eggs? You know that means the chickens themselves have the bacterium, and they pass it to their eggs as they form them, not as they lay them. And how about ground beef, and wiping down your counter with bleach after you make a patty?

I don't know. I have made my choice, so this is not about ME. I just am too much of a bleeding heart to take a "let them eat cake" approach to this: "let the idiots eat their twinkies," as it were. I still think our food supply, though plentiful, is awful. A D+ on a good day. And people accept it. WHY?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My hide is still chapped.

I ranted so much in my own comments this morning that I decided to make a post about it. This thing doesn't look ugly to me. Unfortunately, it still probably tastes like nothing I'd eat.

Okay, here's the deal. I am torn. It's not for me that I protest the protest about UglyRipe tomatoes; I haven't tried them, and I won't try them. I eat tomatoes in season, as the ones grown commercially aren't even a simulacrum of "tomato" in my mind. And I do have qualms about Big Government roughing up Big Ag, but that is mostly because I don't see an alternative. My kid goes to my in-laws' house and eats blackberries the size of strawberries and strawberries the size of plums, and they both taste like sawdust, but my kid is a kid and therefore just plain likes fruit. I even tasted some chicken not too long ago...Tyson, or some someone's insistence and it wasn't chicken, it was gum. Hours-old JuicyFruit. I understand the idea of eating what people are "used to," but damn. Do people not have memories? Was a madeleine biscuit just a literary conceit Proust employed to write 7 books? I think not! EAT=MEMORY.

Why settle, is my question. Why think you are getting a bargain if that ginormous head of lettuce or that 7-lb chicken tastes like...water and gum!

And why DOES the government throw up obstacles to small farmers producing good food. Why CAN'T I get raw milk anymore. Why CAN'T farmers slaughter their pigs, sheep, goats and cows on-site, if poultry is okay.

I understand that the object of all the regulations and all the hurdles is consistency. Consistency, and blandness. That, and a splash of e. coli and a touch of salmonella. No big deal!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Some things chap my hide

Some things piss me off, especially pre-coffee readings like this one. A committee? Approving a tomato? Worried about precedents and concerned that tomatoes that taste good will somehow upset the whole industry?

Here's a good article. My head hurts from trying so hard to wrap around the idea that people really LIKE bland, highly processed food, but it seems they do. Call me a food snob. I have no problem with that. And I have read enough Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Tom Pawlack, Eric Schlosser, Nina Planck, and Peter Singer to fully understand what has happened to farming and food in this country. I just, as usual, don't understand people.

I will tell you this: if someone tastes our jam, or eats our tomatoes, or sits down at our table to share a meal, their enthusiasm for what they taste is not simply politesse: they are not trying to humor me! The stuff tastes good!

Not everyone can give up their city life and move to five acres and grow their own food. But we can do things, easy things, like write our congressional representatives and senators let them know how we feel about the 2007 Farm Bill. And it won't hurt to rattle your state representatives, too, especially if you're a meat eater.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

W is for winter

Images from yesterday and today at the arbor

It's a snow day from school around here. We're awaiting the deluge. School had about 6" more than we have (I still had sheep duty this morning). We got a lot of that icy stuff that hit much of the country yesterday.

The chickens made loud "what's with the white stuff" protestations when I let them out of the coop this morning. Me? I am just so glad winter is finally here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The country mice return

The only garden-related news I have from Noo Yawk (minHATTun) is daffodils in Gramercy Park and full-ish, unopened cherry blossoms in Chelsea.

The kid decided taxicabs were more interesting than buses this time. She spent probably half the opening sitting on the floor of the gallery playing with her cab and her farm friends, blending the new with the known. (Thank you Maria Montessori for such focus.) People just kind of chuckled and walked around her, like she was some kind of performance piece.

And, like her mother, she said she was going to the city to eat! She had her slices and her schmears, of course, but also Italian, Chinese, Thai, "new cuisine," and even bad deli. We had lots of fun.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The country mice go to the city


We're off for a few days to hit Tom's show. He'll be hobnobbing. Our kid wants to ride another bus. Me? I am looking forward to lots of great meals and some decent bagels (it's been so long!).

p.s.: There's more of Tom's work here and here. Oh, and here; there's an interview that was just published today.

Monday, January 08, 2007

And now...

Well, I got my wish...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A world of white...frost

So, maybe this is all we have to hang our hats on in terms of winter this year. A white world of frost. (Now if we could only add some snow to it...and freeze the ground well enough so the dog can walk outside freely without being assaulted by a towel-bearing me before she comes back in, I wouldn't mind. As much.)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Seedy questions

This is an interesting thing. Obviously, I can and do post nearly's just a good exercise for me; nothing more. But I do often wonder if I will run out of things to say--slash--get boring, or MORE boring, in a year or so. The garden world and this farm are only so big. Well. On occasion something comes along that gets me off of the creative hook. Carol a couple of days ago posted something called "What kind of seed buyer are you," and Kathy asked me, yesterday, to take the bait. Hmm. So, here goes. I hope it doesn't bore you all. If it does, just tune back in a few days from now; I will be off to other things by then.

Do you carefully read all of the seed catalogs sent to you and then browse the Internet to compare and contrast all the options, then decide which seeds to buy?
Uh, I comparison shop catalogs, then (usually) pick from three or so to place orders.

Do you buy seeds from 'bricks and mortar' stores and get whatever appeals to you as you are browsing?
Not really, unless they're annuals that I have forgotten to buy elsewhere (annuals, frankly, are the red-headed stepchildren in my gardens, so little regarded yet so ubiquitous).

Do you buy vegetable seeds in bulk where they scoop them out of seed bins, weigh them and put them in hand-marked envelopes?
Yes. Watervliet Fruit Exchange is my store for chicken feed, crushed limestone, blood meal, and, on rare occasion, veggie seeds. I had poor germination with some parsnips last year, so I decided that getting them for 40c beat paying shipping to get less from a seed company. But I don't really want to be planting everything else my neighbors are planting, you know? What's the fun in that?

Do you buy seeds for just vegetables, or just annual flowers? Do you buy seeds for perennial flowers?
All three, actually. I start cold-fearing seeds in the house, but most other seeds, perennials especially, get started in the unheated garage. It has a great bank of southern windows.

Do you know what stratification and scarification are? Have you done either or both with seeds?
Uh, yes, again. Roughing up some big annual seeds tends to help germination.

Do you order seeds from more than one seed company to save on shipping or buy from whoever has the seeds you want, even if it means paying nearly the same for shipping as you do for the actual seeds?
I have in the past. This year I am trying to order from one store only, though I think I won't get all I need from there, sadly.

Do you buy more seeds than you could ever sow in one season?
Of course, silly! Who could possibly use all the tomato plants that a packet of seeds promises.

Do you only buy seeds to direct sow into the garden or do you end up with flats of seedlings in any window of the house with decent light? I do both. However, the plants grown in the house are grown under fluorescent lights. My biggest discovery last year was to use an emergency solar blanket (get them at Target in the camping section for about $2: they're basically reflective mylar) draped over the light and the seed trays. It bounced the light around quite a bit, and the plants loved it.

Do you save your own seeds from year to year and exchange them with other seed savers?

I have begun to seed-save veg seeds. I have actively and passively saved perennial and annual seeds (actively = put them in envelopes and label them, passively = go out and harvest the seedheads I never cut off the fall before) in the past. I would love to seed-trade (any takers?).

Do you even buy seeds?
YES, but I am organized in my approach. I swear.

Do you have a fear of seeds? Some gardeners don't try seeds, why not?
Please understand that I am standing in the middle of the intersection that is "Tightwad Street" and "Simple Living Way," so going out and buying flats of plants, though tempting, is not something I am going to do. Seeds are cheap!

Do you understand seeds? I once bought seeds at a Walmart in January (Burpee Seeds) and the cashier asked me, "Do these really work? Yes, they do. "Isn't it too cold to plant them now?" Well, yes, if you are planning to plant them outside. I don't think this cashier grew up around anyone who gardened.
Most of everything is trial and error. I chewed my husband a new one when he "forgot" one morning to lift the lid off some lettuces I was hardening off. They fried. He didn't understand it would get to 120* in there with the lid on it. Now he knows. But he'd never done this before, so how would he know...

Do you list all your seeds on a spreadsheet, so you can sort the list by when you should sow them so you have a master seed plan of sorts?
Wow, that's even too OCD for me. I use a three-ring binder. Much more user-friendly in a muddy garden.

Do you keep all the old seeds and seed packets from year to year, scattered about in various drawers, boxes, and baskets?
Well, I keep them year to year (knowing that germination rates drop) but they're in plastic shoebox-sized bins, organized by plant type.

Do you determine germination percentage for old seed?
Only when I really have a question about its extreme age. Then I put them on damp paper towels, roll them up, put them in a ziplock bag and then put them atop the fridge, or, rather, forget I put them atop the fridge. Then they sprout, I remember them, and I think, well, this works.

Does this help understand what kind of gardener I am? I bet it gives an indication.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More on seeds

Bee balm (bergamot, monarda didyma) seed head

Oh okay I was feeling pretty good about having made my seed order already. I knew more seed catalogs were coming, and today alone the mailbox had six (6!). I *love* Fedco, but my zone 6-7 is a bit more warm than its Maine headquarters, so it got me thinking about what else I "need" for the garden.

Then I remembered Thanksgiving. We did the 100-Mile Thanksgiving, sans sweet potatoes! And guess what Fedco doesn't carry! Quel horreur.

They also don't carry angelica. It's a monster herb plant that attracts beneficial insects, and would be lovely at the center of the garden. Hmm. Someone else (or two or three) is still going to get my seed money.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hills of beans 2006

2006 was the Year of Beans here at Old Vines. Photos above: Tongue of Fire (dry bush); Scarlet Runner blossoms (pole); Cardinal cowpea (pole or bush); Red-seeded Asparagus long beam blossom (pole); King of the Garden lima (pole)

Legumes serve lots of purposes, and lots of dishes. I started with peas and favas, and ended the year with limas and a ton of dried beans. In the middle were succession plantings of bush beans (both green and fresh shell) and single plantings of pole beans (runners, cowpeas and regular "green" beans). It's a sad day when the fresh beans end, but then again, it won't be long until pea and fava planting begins again. I use species-specific inoculants, I mulch, and I succession plant to time the harvesting/eating.

I absolutely adore beans, and I don't play favorites. This year's end found us eating cowpeas (black-eyed are a variety, but I used cardinal and holstein) and collards in Hoppin' John.

Here's the list:

Dried, succession-planted bush beans
Cranberry Fall
Old-Fashioned Soldier
Tongue of Fire
Flageolet (Flagrano)
Jacob's Cattle
Henderson's Bush lima

Succession-planted "green" bush beans
Romanette (Italian-style flat bean)
Kentucky Wonder
Yellow Wax
Blue Lake
Roma II

Pole beans (fresh, dried and in-between shell)
Trionfo Purple-podded pole
Scarlet runner
Red-seeded Asparagus long bean
Henderson's Black Valentine (green bean and dried)
Kentucky Wonder/Old Homestead
King of the Garden Lima

Cowpeas (they were great last year, which was drier/hotter. This year, I harvested maybe a pound.)
Kirby's Whipporwill
Black Crowder

Lincoln (shell, trellised)
Little Marvel (shell, bush-like)
Burpeeana Early (shell, trellised)
Sugar Snap (edible shell)

Broad Windsor (two sowings: late one never bloomed due to ridiculously early fall frost)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Is it winter yet?

Asparagus stalks in their mulched bed

I had a coworker who'd routinely take his lunch at the late hour of 1:30pm. In our 8-5 worklives, he claimed his return to his desk made 5:00 seem so much sooner.

It's January 2nd, and somehow winter's delay does NOT make it seem that spring is near.