Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Continuing to eat more locally

Ok, tonight I turned out an almost entirely local dinner. Ok, so the onions came from Nevada, and the coconut oil although organic, did also come from the Philippines and Sri Lanka, but the rest of it I can brag about!
-Chicken from Wisdom Farm in Northern Colorado (Farmer's Market)
-Garlic sprouts from another Colorado farm (Farmer's Market)
-Ditto for the russet potatoes (Whole Foods)
-Mushrooms from Hazel Dell Mushrooms in Northern Colorado (Farmer's Market)
-“Micro-mix” from my family room
-Alfalfa sprouts and broccoli sprouts also from my family room
-US produced apple cider vinegar (Safeway)
I eat sprouts and some micro-mix with all my lunches and dinners these days. These in my view are a terrific backup for when the weather here becomes a gardener’s worse nightmare… In a few weeks I hope the shitake mushroom and oyster mushroom kits I have going, will actually produce mushrooms. I have to mist them several times a day (imagine the Olympic Rainforest and I’m the rain…) and this is a bit tedious- although I really love mushrooms so I think I should at least try….
Thank goodness for our lovely Farmer’s Market.
I have to register a Farmer’s Market compliant here now though. If one wants to get the best vegi’s at the Boulder Farmer’s Market (or in some cases, any vegi’s), one must arrive early. The folks that get to the Farmer’s Market early all live near to the market, or they drive their cars. If we want to both ride our bicycles and get there in time to beat some of the crowd to the vegi.s, we have to leave at the crack of dawn. Way too tempting to take the ol’ gas-guzzler. In fact, the opening day we rode our bicycles and got there too late to get any vegi.s. The folks from our CSA, Cure Farm, had sold out and left altogether by the time we arrived. The following week, Russ and I took the mini-van and got there early, were very lucky to find parking and got lots of vegi.s, etc. Wonder what we’ll want to do next Saturday?
The early bird gets the worm!
Our local newspaper after the opening day at the Market gave accurate, glowing descriptions of the farmers, and the crowds but failed to mention the large number of shoppers who had peddled to the market, and then even advertised the valet parking! Ack!
Happy Earth Day all!

Entrenched and growing

Ah, spring progresses. We continue to pick -axe rocks out of the ground. I’m getting just a bit weary of those rocks about now. In fact, as I labor over layer upon layer of rocks these days, I fantasize about jackhammers and backhoes and other heavy machinery….
We have now gotten the perforated pipe and irrigation pipes in part of the trench. Enough so that we have been able to laboriously collect the rocks that we had previously dumped in rock-collections at the margins of the lawn, and go dump the rocks back into the trench sans dirt. It seems as if it would be so easy to gather up the rocks that we had previously worked so hard to hack out of the ground. Actually, this gathering and dumping is energy consumptive and slow as well.
This last weekend I spent largely digging holes and setting posts for the first raised garden bed. It looks as if it’s constructed out of rather raw looking salvaged lumber (which it is), but once it has soil in it, other beds around it and plants growing in it, the effect will be more harmonious with the rest of the garden I think.. Also, as the holes for the wooden posts for the one bed took most of the weekend, I think I’ll try making the next bed with rebar for posts because technically the rebar can fracture the rocks and go through them rather than be stopped by them (this according to my husband John, who wields a mean sledge hammer).
The weather has been overall been getting warmer. Last week we had a day that got up to 80, although the warmest days are generally around 75.We’ve been getting lots of wind combined with low humidity. It feels too much like drought. I hate droughts… It’s hard to keep spring plants happy with so much wind and warm this early. The floating row cover is very helpful for this. Now I have row covers for everything and keep it on all the time. Observing how quickly the soil dries now between waterings because of the low relative humidity, warmth and the dratted wind, I now add straw mulch as well as seedlings get big enough to get sun as they come up through it. Plants don’t dry out so quickly and don’t look so distressed by the end of a warm windy day if they have some cover, even if the row cover was rippled in the wind all afternoon. I want to take it off so I can see the early spring garden growing, but now I’m content just to keep everything covered and happy. Even with the cover, I must hand water everything daily. Plans for drip irrigation continue to jell.
In hoop house #1, I have continued to gradually thin out plants as they size up. The Siberian kale, Red Russian kale, onions and Bloomsdale spinach all are quite vigorous with the largest plants about a foot across. In hoop house #2, I have beets, chard, turnips, a little broccoli, claytonia and miniature savoy cabbage coming up. Most have gotten their first true set of leaves and look quite healthy and unstressed. I’m waiting for the New Zealand spinach to come up both in hoop house #2 and outside in the garden. All peas are germinating now, with some plants up to 1 ½ inches tall and with their first tendrils extended. In the front yard I have a couple small beds with two varieties of peas and particularly attractive varieties of kohlrabi, kale and chard planted as a nod to the neighbors who have a pretty rock garden nearby. All of the front yard vegetables are coming up too.

Monday, April 7, 2008


We have a schedule dictated by the weather and it goes roughly like this:
-The weather gets fairly cold (30's, low 40's- not that cold) and it snows some. Perhaps a little sleet or rain will fall as well. I stay indoors and move some plants into South facing windows, and plant/transplant things as needed. I also do laundry and other house-bound things.
-Next, it warms up some and we have a day or so of melting and drying out. On those days it tends to be in the upper 40's or so and Russ and I run errands and take field trips on our bicycles.
-Then it warms up and we put on our sun hats, sunscreen, gloves, sunglasses, etc. and dive out into the yard to air out the hoop houses and water inside them and to dig in The Trench or prepare garden beds for planting or to plant. As soon as it warms up it tends to get quite windy and this urges us to work harder outside because all that warm air moving through is of course in front of the next cold front.
This last week we had enough warm weather that I admit that I overdid it somewhat both with the bicycling and with the hauling and pick-axing and general garden effort, and looked forward to having a "down" period in which to catch my breath.
And so, for the current garden status report:
Hoop #1 continues to require thinning as the plants are starting to size up. Of particular note are the Siberian Kale, Orach, Yellow Chard and Bloomsdale Spinach. The Red Russian Kale is well represented, but seems less healthy than the others- I'll wait and see. Onions are coming in thickly and need thinning or transplanting.
Hoop #2 took a little vacation while I pulled myself together after the vole visits. Last week I planted New Zealand Spinach, Beets, Turnips, Broccoli. I noticed that 3 onions I'd planted weeks ago, had gone untouched by voles.
I have another mini-hoop+ plastic covered section in the garden in which I had transplanted Red Russian Kale and Yellow Chard from Hoop #1, and some good-sized Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Red Cabbage grown under lights and hardened off. These I transplanted about 2 weeks ago in my mini-hoop covered section, well mulched with straw and covered with floating row cover. These larger transplants have suffered! It freezes at night and they lose leaves to frostbite. If it warms up and I leave off the floating row cover, they desiccate in the wind. So far they have recovered, sending up new leaves and looking stronger given sufficient warmth, water and cover from the wind. I think overall, that it's best to seed the plants out in the hoop house rather than to transplant although my failures have been more related to hungry rodents than freezing nights and windy afternoons.
I've been preparing beds and planting out in the garden without cover and so far have planted 3 kinds of Peas ("Wando" started breaking soil yesterday), Turnip "7 top" and Purple Globe (both slowly coming up), Mizuna, Broccoli Rabe (coming up this week), Radishes, Chard, Beets and Carrots.
Indoors I have Onions, Leeks, a couple of Shallots, Celeric (looking a tad anemic), Tomatos, Fennel, Dill, Lavender, Sage and the last of the Cabbages, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts from the collection I keep sacrificing to the Hoop houses. I also through a bunch of old seeds mixed with other interesting options to make an indoor "micro-mix" in a seedling flat to see how it does. This is a mix of Chard, Mizuna, Corn Salad, Red Russian Kale, and Onions. Everything is coming up nicely.