Independence Days May 16


Well, the weird weather is playing havoc with my plants.  We had a frost a few nights where there was no frost indicated — I put wool out to dry on the front deck and when I left for work it was frozen solid….so I lost about 14 of my tomato plants, and out of that basically all of my pomodoro tomatoes.  I also lost 1/2 my bush bean plants; all the ones that sprouted before the end of April died.  The cowpeas were also done.

The chickens got out yesterday and took out several of the tomato plants as well as a couple of tomatillos.  I asked our neighbor if he was hungry for chicken because I had four I was ready to kill.  They dug up all my freshly planted garlic but didn’t eat it, and ate the tips off a couple of my new asparagus plants.  So far, other than the tomatoes and tomatillos there seems to be no permanent damage done.

Planted:

tomatoes: more Ida Gold, a Russian variety called Urbikany, more Sugar lump cherries, more San Marzano, Borghese, and a Mexican variety called Punta Banda.  I’ve had the packet of them for like two years, and never remembered to plant any.  So, here’s to hoping they germinate and do well.  I went to Home Depot to look for Roma plants in case I decided to break down and buy some, but they didn’t have any.  They did have a variety that is a hybrid and is supposed to do well in the heat.  Nope, didn’t get any, but I’d be curious to see if they live up to their name.  And if they produce a beefsteak type tomato or a roma type.

squash: I keep finding more volunteers in the garden!  I guess the Gods are telling me I’m going to be eating a LOT of winter squash this winter.  What I MEANT to plant — Serpent of Sicily and Zucchetta Rugosa Friulana.  Both are supposed to be more resistant to squash bugs than zucchini are; being in the native land of the squash bug I certainly hope that is so.  Last year I got very few zucchini because the bugs were so prolific that I literally couldn’t keep up, even picking them daily as well as using herbal pesticides.

greens: New Zealand spinach and regular spinach, chervil, and Swiss chard, of course.  I grew NZ spinach several years ago but we never got the courage to try any.  So, this year I’m going to make sure we do!  Even if we don’t eat it, the rabbit and the chickens will appreciate the greens, and anything that reduces my dependence on processed feeds for our animals is good.  The regular spinach I don’t really hold out hope for; I grow it every year and every year it bolts before we get to really eat any.  Someday I’ll succeed! I planted more lettuce, and it’s germinating sort of well.  I have really decided that my problems last year were mostly due to a lack of enough nutrition in the soils; I just didn’t manure well enough.  This year I’ve been much more generous with my application and I hope that the vitality of the peppers is a good sign that I got enough this year.

herbs and flowers: Dill, Lavender, blue poppies marigolds,garlic, and I suppose you could count chervil here too.  It makes a good tea flavoring.  I bought a lavender plant and it’s doing quite well for once.

misc: broccoli, watermelon, and eggplant.  It’s an Italian variety as is the broccoli; the climate (and the heat) are similar to here which might be why the seeds I get from this seed company are so prolific.  The watermelon is the famous Moon and Stars watermelon, which both Mr. TF and I are looking forward to trying.  I started feeling rather selfish that we were growing cantaloupe which he has an allergy to so got these seeds for us to grow instead.  He likes cantaloupe, it just makes his mouth itchy and I worry that one of these days it’s going to be more serious than that.  No point in pushing the issue.

The white eggplant I planted about two months ago are about 3 inches tall and seem to be doing well.  Hopefully they’ll be ready to go into the garden in another week or so; I want to make sure the night time temps aren’t going to stunt their growth before I put them out.

Mr. TF mowed down one of our raspberry bushes to the ground accidentally while weed eating; we have some serious weeds here in the desert and we need line with wire in it to get a lot of this stuff cut down; hence the ease with which the raspberry canes went ‘bye bye’.  He felt so guilty he went to Home Depot and bought another one (about three times the size) and just this morning dug the hole and planted it.  The other one I think will live, it’s got new leaves sprouting from the ground but it’ll be years before it produces any fruit.  Ah well, we weren’t expecting to preserve raspberries this year yet anyway.  And now we’ll ultimately have more than I was originally planning/hoping for.

I lost two cherry tomato plants after transplanting due to entirely too vigorous pruning on my part; I gave two away for Mother’s Day, and I have four that still look pretty good.  One has a broken stalk but is quite healthy looking above the break, and I have it twined to a stake, so I hope it will still produce fruit.

Waste:  I’ve done badly here.  I got a bag of lemons from a co-worker and they didn’t get juiced before some of them went bad.  They’re in the composter so it’s not a total loss, but I would have preferred to save the juice and peel.

Building local food systems:  Buying meat from my friends at Windy View Acres.  Soon to have goat’s milk and maybe some cow’s milk, if the new calf can spare a little.  I can’t wait for more feta and creamy cheese!!  Yogurt is great, but I do miss the tarter flavor of a good herb feta on a salad.  The best part about buying local like that is I both get to financially support my friends by purchasing from them, but I also get to put my money into a food system I trust.

Stores:  still using up what’s in the freezer; I think a cherry cobbler might be in our future tonight.  I found two bags of cherries in the freezer, and if I save all the good stuff for special occasions, we’ll probably never eat it all.  Using up the jelly by giving it to the kids, so I can have the jars back and make more.

That’s about it for this edition of Independence Days.  See you next time, trowel in hand!

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