While We Wait

The Grow-Op is Growing

The Grow-Op is Growing (Photo credit: BevKnits)

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.

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19 Responses to While We Wait

  1. pamela says:

    hey Linda, sounds like you had the same kind of gardening luck we all did here in E TN this year.
    a few things did ok, like squash and cucumbers but forget the tomatoes! we’ve had so many overcast days they just wouldn’t do anything and then something happened to the plants and they all appeared to just rot. Green beans did ok and onions.
    When the climate looses it’s mind, doesn’t matter how good a gardener you are, you can’t change the weather.

    thanks again for another good post. 😀
    I love reading your work and will be happy for you when you get moved into your apartment.

  2. Infinitea says:

    I love your writing Linda and the wonderful, sage perspective you share on everything you write about. Thank you for sharing the wisdom of your experience. 🙂 Seeing the failures of my own garden in a new light.

  3. graveday says:

    Have to agree because it seems that after forty years of great gardens I have mostly lost my green thumb. How can that happen. Horticultural Alzheimer’s?
    I posted somewhere that Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize means he is now free to bomb any place to peaces.

    • theozarker says:

      I’ve only been seriously gardening for about seven or eight years, so I’ve got a long way to go before my thumbs turn green (or, hopefully, before I get horticultural Alzheimer’s,) but it seems like these last two years have really been hard on the garden no matter what I’ve tried.
      LOL, he misunderstanded the meaning of peace, I think. As to Syria, honestly I think TPTB are just getting seriously desperate, now.

  4. bad gardeners grow weeds, good gardeners grow food, great gardeners grow soil

  5. Nadia says:

    Building on an earlier thought that I expressed about heaven and hell being right here on earth and both start with an H – I have some new thoughts about the world “out there” and the world “right here” with my husband and motley crew of pets and other wild creatures, characters and growing things that reside on or trot around our little farm.

    I have developed a thorough appreciation for the “weeds” that have taken over most of our place. Ranging from small to huge, a vast community of living characters have moved in and aren’t likely to be asked to leave anytime soon. I have come to know their names as Curly Dock, Horsetail, Yarrow, Joe Pie, and Pokeweed. These huge dominant folks rule the rest and tower above everyone else as they feed on the earth that has absorbed the droppings of creatures traveling through the last ten years or so – creating an earth so fertile that heaven exploded when we removed the darkness of 50-60 trees that had past into their own heaven here as well. These folks and others bed in a carpet of red clover and green grasses so lush and plush we sink into it by six inches or so when we try to get our way over to our own “dropping ground” outhouse where we, too, leave our contributions to the beginnings of food. It was amazing to discover that, after six months of little activity, the results of this place and it’s purpose amazed me with the sweet dark rich black dirt that had been created – truly a work of Heaven that has nourished everyone in it’s own way since all of us “landed” here.

    Nothing is going to change for awhile. We have decided to just “let things be” as we focus on keeping ourselves, our loved creatures and all of our new friends/foes at arm’s length. As for the PWTB:

    I suggest we might step back and think about how we might encourage Heaven by, perhaps nourishing others with our abundant “stuff” and forget so much about being an angry father brandishing deadly punishments and “teaching lessons”:. Maybe we provide less words and lectures and more actions like provisioning food, clothing, tents, in-place schools and teachers along with any other comforts to the masses of FAMILIES who have had to leave everything behind in HELL and hope to find HEAVEN somewhere else. Maybe we provide our soldiers to protect and to listen to people who just want to know we are there to really protect them for awhile. I watched a news segment about the refugees and how they are living in open fields and that they have scant food and their children are out-of-school. BUT…. This is a sort-of-heaven in place for a while because they feel a bit safer. We have an opportunity to really act on American values in this way.

    I have NEVER experienced the terror and the HELL that these millions of families have and can only imagine the thoughts that are already forming in the thousands of little minds that, no matter what, know that one day is lived at a time and nothing is guaranteed. They also see US as the big big strange guys – maybe not good or bad but SCARY!

    I’m a 60 year old with solid memories of VietNam and I thought things had changed. As I suggest above – I think that the world will always be the product of all who call this planet home. My mom reminded me that – “Hope for the best and expect the worst – but always act from your soul”. In the meantime – I’m looking for a peaceful way to approach my community so that I can do just that.

  6. graveday says:

    Your mom sounds like Linda, Nadia. As to Vietnam, I still haven’t heard a good explanation of why we were there. I do know it was not because of Congressional Declaration of War, nor was it a National Emergency. I wonder if McCain, who was a POW then could even tell me. Maybe he can.
    I really just wanted to say that I do try to nourish the earth here with compost I make, cover crops I plant, and animal manures I bring in. I try to take care of my little corner of the earth. And I work with a foundation to plant trees here in town and out along county roads.
    If you have ever seen what happens when an habitat of a certain size is populated by rats that are given a set amount of food that is way too much in the beginning and way too little in the end, you may wonder what the final product will be of all who call this planed home.
    Unlike the rats, at least we have had the long view of what ‘home’ looks like at a distance. Up close may not turn out very rosy, though I certainly hope so.

    • Nadia says:

      I remember a conversation that I had long ago with an individual who was working to control the mice who were everywhere in a building that I worked in at the time. I have remembered what he told me to this day.

      I commented that I was afraid of the mice – and he replied that mice shouldn’t frighten me. He said that mice have families, care for their young, and eat “real” food. They skirt human activity and only really invade most human places when it’s not warm enough in their “homes” outside. He told me that I really should be more aware of rats as they could be very nasty and that they ate anything, including garbage and they were not as caring about their offspring and could be very aggressive towards humans and animals. He had had to work on farms and clear out grain combines and he said it was one of the worst experiences of his life.

      Are these comments consistent with your experience? I have always remembered his comments.

      I lost four friends in Vietnam and I remember sitting in the streets at the University of Minnesota while the police were whacking people with bats along the edges. Frankly, I got out of there before I was arrested. We were quite passionate then and here we are again in a different place…. what goes around comes around? What does a “win” look like anyhow and have we as humans really won anything in all of this time when we just can’t seem to get beyond that, in a world with “weapons of mass extinction”, no one will ever win?

      Isn’t it more cerebral if we work on ways to control growth and mayhem in the only “home” we will ever know and, perhaps, to look at ways to alter the “big picture”?

      I’m new to living on a farm and I love the quiet but I have an awful lot to learn about it all. I really appreciate your words! Take care – Isn’t this place with Linda’s thoughts a great place to go?

  7. Nadia says:

    A gardening question – my husband was given a 20lb bag of fresh potatoes when he was loaded in Colorado. So many that we couldn’t eat them in time and some have become soft with eyes. I have heard that they can be grown in a trash can from a porch. Does anyone know more about this ? I would like to try and “farm” these potatoes but have no experience. Ideas, anyone?

    • theozarker says:

      I’ve grown my potatoes in a trash can for years. I get about two to five pounds each year per trash bucket. Use about five pieces of potato or five little potatoes – two or three eyes per piece – for each trash can. For right now, I’d do what Grave suggests below. In the spring after they sprout, let them get about eight inches high, then add soil to cover the first five or six inches of growth.(I’ve never used straw, but I’ve heard that you can.) Let them grow another eight inches and repeat with each eight inches of growth, to the top of the trash can. Water them as needed. I always add a little vinegar (one teaspoon per gallon of water) to the first watering to help prevent potato scabies. Fertilize them every so often until they flower and the blooms start dying. Once the plant yellows and starts dying back, you can dig out small potatoes or let them alone for a month or two more to get bigger potatoes. Once you dig (or dump) them out, let the sit in a cool dry place for several days before you store them, so the skins can thicken up. Otherwise the skin bruises or rubs off and rots in those places

      OH – drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the trash can before you start, so they don’t get soggy in the rain.

      That’s how I do it. There are other ways to grow them outside the garden – tires, etc. Google it and you’ll find lots of other ideas. That one was the easiest for me to try.

  8. graveday says:

    If you are still in Minnesota it would have to be a sunny warm enclosed porch. I would use any large container, but not as deep as a trash can. Put a nice soil mix about two feet deep, put the spuds on top, and cover with a foot of straw. Even if frost gets them they will sprout in the spring with any luck at all and start making baby potatoes. Delicious baby potatoes.

  9. Nadia says:

    Thanks you both for your instructions. I’m going to try this.

  10. Pingback: Apocalypse No | Hipster Racist

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