September 7, 2013
Well, since most of the world community seems unwilling to do much more than, as one political wag put it, “hold the President’s coat” while he kills Syrians with missiles and bombs to keep them from getting killed by poison gas, he has decided to go to Congress for permission or something akin to it. Though it’s my understanding that the President thinks he doesn’t really need their permission and may go ahead and bomb, bomb, bomb (in the immortal words of Senator McCain, referring to that other Muslim country they really want to bomb) even if he doesn’t get their permission to bomb Syria. And, even though a large majority of Americans don’t want him to go bomb another Muslim country. That may change after Tuesday, of course, when the President goes on TV to try to talk us all into it.
So, while we’re all waiting to see if we go to war again, I thought I’d talk about my gardens – the one now ending, the one that never happened and the one just beginning.
First of all, as I have said here before, I am not a master gardener. Most years, I’m an average gardener and, between the digging dogs and drought last year and the munching rabbits and bipolar weather this year, I’ve been a terrible gardener. I only write about my gardening because I suspect that there are a lot more average and terrible gardeners around than there are master gardeners and I hope to encourage those who are average or terrible not to give up, but to strive to improve their skills as they can.
As to the garden now ending, it wasn’t much of a garden this year. The rabbits got the first planting and part of the second planting. From the pepper and tomato plants that survived the third planting, I got a handful of jalapenos, four nice sized green peppers and a dozen or so cherry tomatoes. I’m drying the jalapenos and they will go into the jar with last year’s dried peppers to be ground up when I run out of ground jalapenos from two years ago. I diced and froze the green peppers and snacked on the cherry tomatoes as they ripened.
We had a good amount of rain in April and May. June was very hot and dry. The last three weeks of July were unusually cool and it rained buckets almost every day of those three weeks. Most of August was hot and dry, as was this first week of September. Of those parts of the garden that survived all that, the corn and the grapes produced fairly well. I froze an overstuffed gallon of grapes for jelly making and had enough that week to snack on each day. The birds and, I hope, my next door neighbors made use of those I couldn’t get to. From the eighteen corn plants, I got about sixteen good ears. They are long ears, so I usually break them in half before I freeze them, although I did eat a couple with meals last month. Most of them will get scraped of their kernels for the soup pot or casseroles this winter. (I do love a good corn casserole.) I wrested three of the medium sized pickling cucumber from the vine before it drowned in the July rains. I mostly sliced and snacked on them with sour cream and onion dip. The second planting of potatoes drowned before they got big enough to cover the first time. I’ll try again next year. The seed onions are dried for planting in November. And the green beans never produced more than that handful I picked last month, though they, too, are frozen and await the soup pot.
This doesn’t sound like much of a harvest, but right now I only have to feed myself. It will augment what is in the freezer and the pantry. And should hard times befall us again, it’s surprising how far a big pot of vegetable soup over noodles or rice will go to feed a hungry neighbor (believe me, I’ve been that neighbor) or a family passing through.
Nor will what’s left of the garden go to waste. With fall beginning in a couple of weeks, the cornstalks will be given to a neighbor who likes to dry them and use them for Halloween decorations. I’ll save a couple and strip the leaves for compost. The smaller plants will be pulled and mowed over with the grass to form the first layer of winter cover for the garden or go into the compost along with another bowl of plant scraps and tea grounds that’s sitting on the kitchen table to be taken out. Waste not; want not.
The garden that never happened was the fall garden I wanted to plant, but it rained that entire two week window at the last of July and the first week of August. I hope to try a fall garden again next year, too.
But the garden that excites me the most, right now, is the garden that’s beginning – my indoor winter garden. All the seeds I started have come up, except the peppers. They’re always sooo slow. In addition to the usual suspects – tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and spinach – I’m going to try squash, pole beans, cantaloupes and cabbage. Since most of these (except the lettuce, spinach and cabbage) will profit from my making like a bumble bee, I’ve been reading and watching videos (see here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5UH8PLmcAY&feature=youtu.be) on pollinating by hand – especially the squash and melons. And since I’ll be moved into the downstairs apartment by the end of the month, some of the starts should be about ready for transplanting by the time I get the gardening room set up. Woohoo!
I’ve always found it easy to grow lettuce and spinach through the winter, so even if you’re a terrible gardener or no gardener at all, if you want to give it a try and start with something easy, here is a well illustrated article on growing lettuce and spinach greens indoors. http://www.garden.org/ediblelandscaping/?page=201011-how-to
It’s going to be a busy autumn around my house, but with President Peace Prize busy drumming up support for another Middle East war, we doomers need something to do while we wait to see if he’s successful and what the blowback from that might be, this time.