Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Oh, Wow, It’s Serious

November 14, 2007

I wanted to take a minute to point everyone to this pretty amusing documentary about chicken problems in Missoula. I find it funny for a few reasons. Highest up there is, well, chickens… They’re sort of like bananas, just inherently funny. Also good, how serious everyone is about it. For some people it seems like the possibility of a chicken in the city is about the same as a nuclear plant or a dump. The best part, for me, though, is that the bill is called the Urban Chicken Ordinance, and that people keep talking about how it will ruin city life, all the while ignoring the fact that they live in Missoula, Montana. Don’t get me wrong, I have family there and I love a rural setting, but they need to visit New York or something. Missoula is not urban. Or a city. I’m frankly shocked they don’t already have farm animals.

It is a serious issue though, and I tend to come down on the side of the chickens (and their owners). I think, of course, it should be regulated somewhat. Their no roosters rule sounds good. That being the case, I think people should not only be able but be encouraged to be more self-sufficient. The time is coming when food will have to come from closer to home. A chicken in every back yard and a egg on every plate seems like as good a place to start as any.

Three quick points before I let this go:

  • I also am pro-chicken because I want to have chicken(s) eventually, so, you know, legal precedent.
  • Can they really be messier or noisier then dogs? Maybe the anti-chicken people wold oppose them too.
  • New York chickens! I can’t wait. (Actually, I saw a rooster in Harlem once. I wish I could say there’s a long story there, but that is it. Just saw a rooster, hanging out in Harlem.)
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Dislocated

October 7, 2007

I was sitting, watching the tally of abortions on that poodwaddle clock roll up by the second, and talking to two friends on instant messenger. The tally of forest lost. Marriages. Cancer. I had to ask, how is this possible?

In Aesthetics, we talked about how (according to McLuhan), electric media extend our nervous system. Let us feel the world, be in many places at once. iPods, cell phones, the internet.

A human being can’t begin to understand what those abortions ticking away the second means. Never mind that the actual act takes a lot longer then that; try to send your mind out, touching on each of those doctors’ offices. It’s impossible. It would require a constant state of… of what? Pain, sadness, stress. Look down, and send yourself out to each wedding that ticks off. Happyness, love, a constant wave.

It’s all too big.

At the same time, I was trying to talk to my friends. It felt personal, and yet, somehow, I kept asking myself if it was really any more real then the world clock. I can talk to a person but I never see them. I don’t hear their voice.

Earlier, I was getting ready to order plants for my garden next summer. I’m not even sure that I will have a place to plant them, but I want to try. I feel like I need that now, that connection to something more simple and natural.

And yet, a bit earlier still, I realized I went all day and never saw the sun.

No wonder I sympathize with John Zerzan when he says “modern” man is fractured.

Preparing To Go To Vegas

July 24, 2007

So, I am getting set to go to Vegas on Thursday morning for my dad’s wedding. It’s a little bit nerve wracking, although I’m not sure why exactly. I just have to show up, after all.

Anyway, in light of needing to get up early tomorrow to do my Thursday work a day early, I will keep this short and to the point. I will try to set up some sort of guest post thing if i can’t post myself, but there are no guarantees. Yet.

Besides that, nothing much to report. We picked a batch of green beans today, should get another off those plants and about three off the ones we just planted. I’ve gotten a surprising amount done as of late, so thats good. Now, if only I could figure out what that nagging unease hanging around me tonight is, I’d be good.

Happy Night

July 23, 2007

Tonight was one of those simple, stay at home sorta nights that is really nice. Moi and I are going out to dinner morrow night. So I’m pretty happy.

No new green been shoots in the garden, yet.

I did make a few bucks answering surveys on-line though. I keep meaning to review the site I am signed up for (and make Moi review hers), but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Look for it soon!

PS: I’ll be in Vegas Thursday through Saturday, so I’m not sure how posting will go during that time. I’ll try to line up some guest posts or something, just to seem like a more professionally run site.

Woe…

July 19, 2007

…is me! Whatever shall I do with the shambles of my life? Ha ha, only kidding. I know, I know, it’s not that funny, but three separate people have asked me in the past few days, “I was reading your blog and… are you depressed?” I suppose I can see why they might think so, and I may have to consider doing it again – it’s made for a bump in traffic I can’t quite account for.

So, big news. The peas are out, their withering stems plucked from the earth. I was impressed by them – they grew fast, tall, and were fun to grow – but they will not be taking quite such a big role in the garden next year.  In fact, they will probably move to the fence, which I think they will be just as happy about. A tall trellis, good sun, and space seem to be their three favorite things.

In their place, we’ll be putting down a bunch of green beans. They should mature just about a week after I go off to college. C’est la vie. As far as that goes, the plants shoot up and quickly grow to bear fruit, so I’m happy. In fact, our current crop is so laden with beans that they are toppling over into the carrots, causing something of a hilariously slow turf war. The pea trellises have been retasked as peacekeeping forces.

Plans are brewing for next year, in my head, but for now they need to stay there. And that is just about all the news I have for today.

I hope my dear loved ones can give it a rest now.

Pessimism Abounds, Snowballs

July 15, 2007

I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve been feeling particularly pessimistic lately. I don’t know why, but it seems like trouble always comes in patches, doesn’t it?

It didn’t help that Moi’s mom raised a big fuss last night about the garden being on the verge of death and decay (diseased, she thought), which led me to spend a good twenty four hours fretting over what I would find.  What I did find was that the peas were doing what, I’ve learned, peas do – flower, fruit, and die. With a good crop, no less. Now I wonder if we aught to try planting a second crop. Not sure, exactly.

More then that, though, I think it’s just been a feeling lately that I’m not accomplishing anything. I say that because, well, I’m not really. Maybe it’s to do with Moi being out and about, but I’ve been pretty boring lately. I’ve even been slowing down on the posts here, for which I apologize.

I can’t say this is a new feeling, and one would expect me to be better at dealing with it then I am, but I tend to get stuck to the TV and just make myself feel worse. But enough about the problem, and on to the solution.

First, to make a list, of the things I need to do muy pronto. It probably wont be very long but I’ve always found that it’s a good way to kick yourself into action and then to feel like you’re accomplishing things (as you tick tick tick them off the list).

I think what I’m dealing with is mostly uncertainty. The summer is almost over, and I don’t know what I have done, or have left to do, or whether I’ve succeeded in the things I did. I’m not sure where I’m going to school (or where I want to go to school) and my classes aren’t set. And in the face of all of it I’m feeling just a bit overwhelmed.

So tomorrow I’ll make a list, focusing on things I need to do in the next week or so, and worry about uncertain futures when I get there.

Thanking The Sky For Rain

July 12, 2007

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about people who decided to try to go back to a more natural way of eating, both for their personal betterment and to opt out of the huge, oil-fed industrial food chain. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is one I recommend. the No Impact Man blog is another. I suspect, too, that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, which I just started reading yesterday, will get my recommendation too. This summer in good part because of these people’s writing, I’ve been trying to do the same thing for myself. The garden is one step in that. Abstaining from junk food has been another (and a successful one; previously, we went to Burger King twice a week or so, but this entire summer I have only gone twice). Still, I’ve wondered from time to time if I’m capable of taking it as far as I want.

It’s hard to, in our world, after all.  Kingsolver writes beautifully in the first chapter about the amazing levels of ignorance in America about food. A lot of people don’t know that vegetables and fruits grow out of the dirt. Many can’t imagine something like a potato or a peanut being connected to a plant. She recounts how, as she and her family were leaving Tuscon to move to Virginia (where they could eat locally), the cashier at the local gas station hoped it wouldn’t rain  – despite being in a desert going through a draught – because she wanted to wash her car that day.

I freely admit, I don’t know much about the local growing seasons. I’m not sure which veggies to expect at a farmer’s market (or even where the farmer’s market is)this time of year, or even what veggies are able to be grown locally. I was starting to feel ignorant, and it made me really sad.

Until last night. For the past week, the weather has been sweltering. Despite the humidity, it’s been too hot for the plants, and definitely too hot for us. Bust last night it rained, and Moi and I ran out and danced in it. We were happy for us, for our plants, and for the land.

There’s hope for us yet.

Evergreen Tea

July 9, 2007

Well, I have done as I said I would, and coaxed from nature a meal. Well, a food, technically.

Lately, despite the fact that the garden is starting to produce edible foodstuffs (the peas are delicious, and the lettuce/tomatoes/green beans/carrots aren’t far behind), I’ve been on a little foraging tangent lately. I blame the Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I’ve mentioned here before. Granted, he focused mostly on mushrooms, but as it’s too late in the year for morels, and I don’t think I’d trust myself to look for any other sort of mushroom, I’m focusing more on edible plants. Assisted greatly by a Field Guide to Edible Plants of Central and Eastern US, naturally.

Well, today I took my first tentative steps into the foraging world with a familiar and easily identifiable plant: the pine.

What’s that? You say you had no idea a pine was in any way edible? Yeah, well, me neither, and some people in my family would still agree with you. But I was pleasantly surprised. In case you haven’t figured from the title yet, the key is a certain amount of boiling water.

The Recipe:

  • Finely chop young, light green needles (older ones work, but not as well) from a pine (make sure it is a pine).
  • Steep in boiling water for 5-15 min. I am pretty sure the taste gets stronger, not more bitter, with time, so the timing isn’t terribly important.
  • Strain and sweeten to taste.

Yes, it’s just that simple. The book described it as aromatic and nutritious, being high in vitamins A and C. I wouldn’t take the lack of “delicious” there as an insult, since they also didn’t include “works in an emergency” like they did for some other edible plants. I could be wrong, but I doubt it is high in caffeine.

The tea is very light in color; mine was only a very pale green. It smells, not surprisingly, quite a lot like pine, and tastes, well, about like you would expect. It reminded me a little bit of Yerba Mate (the real stuff, not the additive for energy drinks), although Moi’s family would probably kill me for saying so. Oh well.

I’ll concede I didn’t drink much of it, but i suspect that has more to do with the temperature then the tea. I actually thought it was pretty good. More then that, I was impressed by the alchemy involved. It’s one thing to grow a plant in the garden and consume it’s fruit (and a delicious thing at that), but it’s an all together different thing to take a decorative or even wild plant and with special knowledge make something edible

For now, though, the local evergreens are safe; it’s too hot to drink a lot of tea. However, I am thinking of going out tomorrow to forage a little. I saw (having now seen it in the book and knowing what it looks like) what I think might be wild carrot, and there are lots of berries growing around. So I will set off with a nap-sack and my guide and try to find something munchable.

A fresh carrot actually sounds really good. Hmm. Wish me luck!

READER CHALLENGE: Cooking With The Whole Garden?

July 2, 2007

I still plan on doing the resolutions round-up, but first, from the inscrutable Moi (my girlfriend, for anyone new), a question for any biology-or-cuisine savvy readers.

The question stems from the fact that Moi has this odd habit of nibbling, like our own little bunny, on all the plants in our garden, even though most of them are not generally considered edible. From this, she has learned that carrot tops taste a bit like carrots, as do pea leaves taste like peas, while tomato leaves definitely don’t taste like tomatoes. Really, it is a miracle that we have any plants at all.

Clearly, she isn’t dead yet, so nothing is very toxic. But why, if these bits of the plant all taste as good as she says, don’t we eat them? This is my question to you? Is it a matter of gastronomic preference, or are their biological reasons for it? Are our stomachs even set up to digest some of these plants (I know we would need to evolve a rumen to extract nutrients from grass, for example)?

I hope someone out there has the answer. In the meantime, look for the Cooking with the Whole Garden cookbook.

Garden (And Health) Update

June 30, 2007

Still feeling a little under the weather. Not much else to say about it really.

Today has been a wonderful day for the garden though! To my amazement and joy, we have both peas and tomatoes. Both are still too small to eat but it is very close. Yay! We planted the onion seedlings too, which hopefully will fair better then the first round of onion. Ditto for Fennel.

All for tonight, more tomorrow when I will hopefully feel better. Knock on wood!