Monday Musings: the Garden Variety Edition

Been a busy but not unpleasantly so time here in the soybean field. Visitors, walks, and work in the garden have kept me occupied the last couple of weeks.

The cherry tomatoes set blossoms this last week. We wait, not very patiently, for the tiny green bumps to transform into lush red spheres. No need to do much with them. The little balls of sunshine need no special prep. Maybe slice in half before you put them in your salad, but no need to do much else.

Green beans have unfurled themselves. They are ready for picking. Not as many as I’d hoped for, but it’s still early in the harvest. They can easily produce until first frost, usually mid-October around here. Simple is best. I love them stir fried with garlic. Or steamed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Lettuce and basil maintain their lovely leafiness, and will likely keep producing for a while. They look like parasol-balancing ladies at a garden party. Both have enhanced salads and pasta sauces with their presence. I should have enough basil to make and freeze pesto for winter. I use walnuts instead of pine nuts. Easier to find and less expensive.

The radishes bolted. I’ll pull them, then plant another round of seeds in another week or so when it cools off. Note to self: thin them out when they sprout. They had good flavor, but emerged from the soil in odd thin shapes due to crowding. The tiny sprouts enliven salads and sandwiches by their spicy presence. A few on your tuna goes a long way towards elevating it from the mundane.

Carrots are nowhere near ready. They push themselves to the surface when they are.   Root veggies, except for radishes. are usually the last ones to mature, so no surprise there.

Broccoli? This is the first year I tried to grow it. The foliage is impressive, but anything that looks like what I buy at the store hasn’t emerged yet. We wait.

On  a whim, I bought a pack of French mesclun seeds. I don’t know what I unleashed when I sowed them, but what came up looked neither French or mesclun. I’m cleaning that out as it emerges. Note to self: don’t buy seeds on supermarket end caps from growers you’ve never heard of, even if there are references to France of French anything.

Oakley isn’t a big veggie eater. He sits outside with me, or finds grass to nibble. When I finish pulling and watering, I sit on the back step. He sits next to me. I rub his ears with my cleaner hand, and we watch the sun lengthen the rays across the fields together.

 

 

 

Garden Report for 5/31/17

Hubby built the raised bed for the garden last week. It’s 4’x8’x18″ and can accommodate all kinds of root depth.

We filled it with some fine organic soil premixed with sand (for drainage) and compost (for nutrients). After we shoveled the beautiful dirt into the bed frame, I tucked the seeds into it. Short and root crops go along the eastern edge. The taller, bushier ones went to the west side. I  watered, watered some more, and hoped for the best. We have tomatoes, some herbs, broccoli, lettuce, green beans, radishes, heirloom carrots, and spinach incubating in their lovely bed. Now we wait.

image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

I hadn’t planted in seven springs. The last garden came into being just after Orion made his journey across the Rainbow Bridge. In the haze of early grief,  I half-heartedly poked holes in the ground, stuck the young plants into them, and watered. And walked away. And still had decent produce, including a zucchini the size of a baseball bat. Really. As I cleaned out the bed that fall, I bumped something buried in the leaves with my foot. There was the zucchini. Hubby and I didn’t know if we should cook with it, bronze it for posterity, or apply for an open carry permit.

I think I made some bread with it, and soup.  Good soup, if I remember correctly.

This year, I wanted, needed to get my hands back into the dirt. I needed to do something, anything to counterbalance the craziness in the world. Working with the cycle of nature keeps me sane, reminds me that all things will pass, eventually, and to have patience as they come to fruition.

Plus as the meme says, I’ll get tomatoes. You can’t beat that.

The Attack of the Perfect Woman

She dwells inside of us all, observing, judging, censuring. She thrives on making us miserable. 

She is the Perfect Woman. You know, that part of your psyche formed by the mean teacher, a critical relative, or exposure to Martha Stewart at a young age. She turns the other parts of your personality against each other, driving you into the chocolate or absenthe. That one.

The bee-yatch reared her head today while I researched an article on climate change for the newsletter. I took a quiz to determine the size of my carbon footprint. The results were not what I expected. I already use cloth bags, group errands together, put in state of the art toilets and lights and 2×6 framing to accommodate extra insulation when we built this house 15 years ago. I shop in bulk, buy locally when possible, eat about 80% vegetarian, and maybe buy clothes once or twice a year. Hubby does an impeccable job of maintaining my car, too. 

But nooo….that wasn’t good enough. According to this quiz, I should be walking more or taking public transportation (neat trick when one lives two miles out of town off a road mistaken for a drag strip and have no access to public transit, except for the mini-bus service geared towards senior and people with disabilities); composting (nice thought, but we get enough critters in the yard without enticement); and buying a lot more locally grown food (nice thought, but there are three confirmed dislikers of kale, one of the few things that can grow in Illinois in winter, and I’ve never been able to find locally grown citrus).

And then the litany of failure in the Perfect Woman’s eyes began. What kind of environmentalist are you? Oh, you preach a good sermon, but see all these counterproductive things that you do?

I took a second look at the scores while she tried to shred my self esteem. Except for the necessity of driving and the lack of gardening, I still ranked above average, even though the website conspired with Perfect Woman to shred my confidence to ribbons. I quietly told her to STFU and took Oakley to the forest preserve. 

 

The Need to Carry On

It finally started thawing here yesterday. We have another round of something slushy late tonight or tomorrow morning, but it should melt quickly. John Denver said it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOonHGpHLms

And do you care what’s happening around you? Do your senses know the changes when they come? Can you see yourself reflected in the seasons? Can you understand the need to carry on? 

We’re about two weeks out from the primary for governor here in Illinois. I can’t get excited about any of the candidates on either side. Governor Quinn took over when Rod Blagojevich was impeached. I’ll likely vote Green Party unless something really drastic happens. Otherwise, it’s a question of Coke or Pepsi.

Right now, we desperately need legislators who will take stands on a couple of important environmental issues. One involves a proposed fracking operation downstate. The other involves pit mining near Starved Rock State Park, about forty-five minutes west of me. The only thing that will come of either is pollution and birth defects. In my lifetime, there has been fire where Lake Erie literally caught on fire; Three Mile Island; and this winter, the Elk River poisoning. It pains me that nothing has been learned by this. 

There’s also the need to stand up to Monsanto and how they are poisoning the food supply. The Greens do not accept corporate contributions, which assures me that they are not in the pockets of the people who brought us Roundup. We know personally of several farm families that have been ravaged by cancer or neurological problems that can’t be explained by modern medicine. Enough, already.

In all honesty, yes, I am tired. I fully comprehend and understand the need to carry on. I’ve been fighting this since I was in upper elementary grades. Discreetly, because when one is raised by a parent who makes Ronald Reagan look like Bernie Sanders, that’s what you do. I am hurting from seeing the gains made in environmental protection thrown out in the name of lining a donor’s pockets.

I’ll tell you what. I’m going to have a little nap for the fatigue and lots of chocolate for the soul. And I will see you at the computer later and at the voting booth on March 18 and in November. 

 

Really? Obama Signs Away the Environment to Monsanto

President Obama signed an appropriations bill earlier this week. You know, the one that included legislation to let Monsanto rape, pillage, and plunder the earth?

Some people are defending it by pointing out that it was attached to some truly useful things such as funding for the VAWA. Others are saying that the Democrats didn’t know the Monsanto bit was in there. I am not buying it. 

I’m p.o’d at so many levels: the blatant disregard for environmental safety; ignoring the will and desires of the people; and yes, idealist that I am, I do feel betrayed that representatives who I’d considered “good guys” in the past supported this and accepted campaign funds from the makers of poisons. 

I couldn’t write about this yesterday. Within five minutes of checking my news on FB, I received word of the death of a friend’s wife after an eight year battle with cancer. Then, not long afterwards, this came down the wire. I physically shook and couldn’t think straight the better part of the day.

The battle isn’t over yet. Do something. Plant your own non-GMO garden. Call and demand an executive order to override this part of the bill. Just do something.