Category Archives: garden

Garden Update: 4 May

Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers. And, if I’m not a dumb-ass tomorrow, some jalapeños as well. That’s what’s in the garden this year. Things are looking pretty good, though!

Unfortunately, though, there was some natural selection that happened. One of my basil plants died and most of my slicing cucumbers haven’t come up.

Pictures (taken with my Samsung Captivate Android smart phone) after the jump

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Garden update: 25 May

Just a quick update: Today I took a look out in the garden and noticed that I have potato plants making an appearance! Pics tomorrow (been busy with homework today, so no pics) I’ve also seen cucumber seedlings of both types, as well as radish leaves. One of my basil plants looks iffy, but 5/6 is a pretty good number if you ask me!

Tomorrow I’ll be planting the jalapeño plants and the English lavender after work, if I have the energy. I will likely have to put my feet up for a while, though.

Farmer Geordon In the Garden

My cucumber trellises came in from Gardener’s Supply Company yesterday and I was excited to put in my cucumbers. I did that today. While I Was out there, Kristen decided to come help out some (Bless you!) by pulling some weeds out of the ground in and around the garden boxes. She also brought her camera with her to document our efforts.

Photo collage after the jump

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Potato aprehension

I finally have everything on hand to build a couple of potato towers, but the things that I’m seeing online suggest that potatoes grown in towers have a relatively low harvest.  To the tune of about 3 pounds of harvest for every pound of seed used

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Bog fat blob

Oh. My. God. I am in the process of tilling up my garden area, and have discovered something: I don’t think I will be able to do it all as I wanted. One of the 4×8 beds down, one more of the same and a pumpkin patch to go. I can barely lift my forearms.

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Gardening and cooking are subversive acts

Today, I spent a good hour of my day just listening to the following talk:

Authors@Google: Michael Pollan – YouTube.

Michael Pollan is the author of, among other things “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” of which the latter is the topic. There was a lot of information to chew through, but one of the core points is that much of what we eat in America today is “edible food-like substances” rather than “food.”

What is the difference between these two terms? your grandmother or great grandmother would recognize anything that is “food” as edible without difficulty.  “Edible food-like substance” on the other hand, would stymie her. Pollan gave the example of Gogurt as something that she would be confused by. What is in this sealed plastic tube? It feels like toothpaste! The ingredients are crazy, too: High fructose corn syrup (Huh?) and tricalcium phosphate? Neither of those occurs in nature, and Grandma certainly wouldn’t use them in her cooking.

The American diet is so far removed from the natural state of food that most of us have no idea where what we eat comes from. Even our lettuce comes processed! When I was a child, I had to tear apart a head of lettuce If I wanted to have a salad.

Count in that the fact that much of the produce in the grocery store comes hundreds or thousands of miles from where it’s grown to our table. Much of that produce is genetically altered and designed (hybridized) with an eye toward being shipping-durable above all else. If you’ve ever tasted a garden-grown tomato against a grocery store tomato, you know that there is a giant difference in flavor, appearance, and texture between them.

There is a movement underway that has people returning to “real” food, food that Grandma would recognize, and food that doesn’t travel thousands of miles to get to the market. This includes buying food at farmer’s markets and home gardening to raise produce. I don’t have any numbers, but I’ve seen lots of things on the Internet and in my town that proves that some people are “getting back to real.” Even my family is getting back to real food, though that’s as much necessity as anything else.

A big problem with this is that “real” food is more expensive than edible food-like substances. The reason for this is two-fold. First, there is a supply and demand curve that must be overcome. More people want the real food than there are farms and gardens to support it. Second, a great deal of what makes up the food-like substances are subsidized, therefore artificially driving the price down. Watch “Food, Inc.” for more on that. One person that I know summed up that movie in five words: Want some corn with that? Corn is one of the most heavily subsidized crops in the country, making it dirt-cheap to use.

For another problem with our current food supply, just refer to the recent uproar over “pink slime“. Household cleaning chemicals are used to make something only fit for animals into people food. I object, your honor.

Sometimes the sheer thought of eating in the American public makes me sick. I’m growing a garden, so I know where it comes from. (and because it will subsidize my family’s diet for the Fall.)

Happy windfall FTW

You never know when something will fall out of the sky and make your life just that much easier for a little while.  That happened to me today. I got a check for my unused vacation balance from the old job.

I ve about where the money to rent the garden tiller was going to come from, as well as where the cash to put into the potato towers to get them ready to grow. Then there is the consignment order that I have for the end of May that I need to fill to get Gentleman’s Cabinet off on the right foot. A friendly couple that we know will have a vendor table at WisCon over the Memorial Day weekend and they have expressed a willingness to take some of my goods to try to sell. Look for Traditional Treasures if you’re there and say hi to Betsy and Warren!

Anyway! The funding for these projects was not clear or obvious, but it is not a problem now. I’ll have the funds available for use next Monday (After Kristen and the kids get back from ACen) and will be able to order a number of things that I need early next week. Yay!

It really takes a load off of the mind, knowing how I can make the garden work soon. I can rent the tiller and get the garden prepped and some seeds sown. I can make some products to hopefully sell them over Memorial Day weekend. And, I can buy some canning stuff in order to be able to preserve some foods. I may even have enough left over to get a small pressure canner, so that I can put up some vegetables from the garden some way other than just pickled. Not everyone in the house likes pickles.

In other news, I have orientation at Target next Friday, and hopefully I’ll be able to start working soon after that. I need to be doing something that makes some progress, since most of my plans, like the garden, are mostly on hold at the moment. Once that money gets into my hands, things can progress. I can finally get the garden started, too, which will make me feel less useless.

Have you ever been in a situation that a windfall of some sort turns you right around? I’d like to hear your experience!

Light weekend reading

While Kristen was out running errands with Kirk and Katie, the mail came. However, I wasn’t paying attention, so they brought it in when they got home.

Side note: Kristen is starting to get freaked out by the numerous packages that are arriving with my name on them lately. Fortunately, there are only a few left pending. One on Monday, which is my water bath canner, and one that will ship on May 5, which is my birthday money from Barnes and Noble.

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Planning on potatoes

Today’s goal is to develop a plan to grow somewhere around 60 – 80 pounds of potatoes in a staged or staggered harvest.

The idea is to start three or four groups of potatoes with a week or two between each, so that they have a chance to mature in sequence and we don’t get a too-large harvest all at one time. Since the spuds can take a lot of space, I won’t be planting them in the prepared beds, but rather in some sort of potato tower or (new) trash barrel container.

At this time, I’m thinking that I’ll be doing three or four stages of growing, so I’ll need at least the same amount of barrels or towers.

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Best laid plans of mice and men…

I had intended to rent out a rototiller today and get the garden beds prepared for the season. HOWEVER! Mother Nature had different plans. Last night, we had some big rain, which soaked the ground and turned it into mud.  This morning, as we were on our way to pick up the tiller, it started raining again.

Bah. Sad panda.

So, I decided that I’d put off the tilling until later this week or next weekend. Fortunately, I’m still in the “start seed inside” timeframe for most of the veg that I want to plant.

In other news, I recently stumbled across something on Pinterest that sounds interesting. It’s an herbal “itch stick” that is supposed to help insect bites to stop itching. Kristen and Katie often suffer from mosquito bites during the summer months, so I thought that I’d give it a shot.  Here’s a link to the original recipe:


The ingredients are not what I would call inexpensive, but they’re not prohibitive, either. The problem is that they’re not easily available in very small (like 1/2 ounce) quantities online. I happen to have an herb shop moderately near the house (Ok, it’s 20 miles away through small towns) that I can get the herbs from.  Add to that the butters and containers, and I will have everything on hand tomorrow in order to assemble some of this stuff.

I’ll probably end up with a couple of these up on Gentleman’s Cabinet in a few days.


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