Sunday, April 26, 2009

...they have eyes but they do not have faces ...

So while I was out there doing all the hard work of readying the beds for the spuds, I started singing that Cheryl Wheeler song about potatoes. Maybe you would like to hear it so that you too can have this ingenious little number rattling around in your head all day in the garden?

The potato problem

I over ordered potatoes this year. Somehow I FORGOT that I had ordered from FEDCO ... 2 pounds of Yellow Finns. Then one Sunday morning I found and as if in a trance I ordered pounds more of Bison, German Butter Ball, Adora and more Yellow Finns. And I don't even really LIKE potatoes. I mean they are fun to to harvest, but it is after all a white carb.

So I decided I would relegate the majority of the potatoes to what is becoming the darkest bed in my garden AND I would resurrect the "potato bin." Held together by screws and wing nuts the potato bin is designed to use vertical space to grow this crop. I have had varying degrees of success with it over the years. One year I pulled out over 100 potatoes. Another year, I used soil that was too rich and got hardly any potatoes at all.

... and I only have eyes for you

Friday, April 24, 2009

Signs of Spring

an abundance of wild watercress

a trellis waiting for peas


and an asparagus eye view of the world

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Annual Seedlings Pilgrimage

This year's trip to Bath County took me to Milmont Nursery in Stuar's Draft, VA. There were ample selections of some of my favorites including Big Zac and Boxcar Willie. But in the end I opted for more reliable types like Better Boy. And last year I did not plant any cherry tomoatoes and quite frankly I missed them. So I put some Sweet 100's into the pile along with some French Sorrrel and some pineapple sage.

Since it rained most of the time during my stay at the Farm we ended up going for lunch at the Greenbriar Hotel. Here are a few of the scenes from inside this remarkably grand hotel.On my return trip home I wended my way through the back roads of Augusta County in search of Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm. The countryside is rolling and the roads get narrower and narrower the deeper in you travel. But through some bit of luck and helpful directions I came upon the sign for Polyface Farm. I clattered about for some time encountering nothing but the animals. Just when I was about to give up on the chance to buy a chicken or two, I spied two of the apprentices. "Hi there. I was beginning to think the animals ran this farm all by themselves" I said. "That's how we like to think it works," replied one of the young men.I was then taken into the room outfitted with various freezers. I bought two chickens and a skirt steak and while they were writing me up I asked about their marketing operation. They have given up on the Farmer's Markets and work through a direct drop arrangement with buying clubs. You place your order online a week in advance and then arrive with your cooler and a check at the appointed drop point on the appointed day.It was a real treat to be on the farm that has served as a compass for so many enlightened farmers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Earthday: An April Project

I have decided to make it a point to shift to electronic communications whenever possible from now on, and in honor of Earth Day I am choosing April as my turnaround month. If I had thought ahead I would have weighed all the bills, stock annual reports, and quarterly statements that came piling in through the mail slot this month and then done another weigh in next April.

The corporate world is trying to help us do this. If you own any of these stocks, you can sign up through eTree and get a tree planted at the same time you sign up to eliminate paper correspondence.

Nearly any bill you receive will have an offer to sign up for electronic notification. If you pay your bills online like I do, this makes perfects sense. Take a closer look at it this month. Oh, and don't forget, you can file your income tax electronically as well.

These are choice WE can make.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Growing Artichokes

I had an excellent germination rate on these "Green Globe Improved" artichokes from Reimer Seeds. These were planted a month ago and just now are showing true leaves. I transplanted them to 4 inch pots and am keeping them in a sunny window.

In past years my artichoke seedlings have succumbed to some kind of wilt, so I was very careful to keep them mostly dry and to let them get their moisture from the bottom of their APS trays. But I think this "improved" variety might also be responsible.

Last year I started two northern climate hardy varieties "Emerald" and "Northern Star". I acquired them from Peter's Seeds which is currently out of the "Northern Star".

Stay tuned for reports on how last year's attempt at over wintering went. Estimated date of arrival at my garden gate .... April 19.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Plant stands

I have been looking for a tiered plant stand arrangement. I finally decided on this set of nested stands from Gardener's Supply. Easy to assemble, handsome and sturdy.