Rice Against

We got about a foot of snow twice this week. I’m not sure it’s necessary to cover lettuce, radishes, beets, carrots and cilantro before a snow, but I did because it was going to be in the teens at night (Fahrenheit) so I let the snow be an insulator. Today I removed those covers, it got warm, and an avalanche from the roof slammed down on these beds, so there was no point. But I did get a cute pic.

peekaboo

Here they are the day before this snow.

lettuce

“Rice Against”, like Wicked Garden , is a nod to one of those rock, punk or pop bands I like to reference. I guess that started since the name Deathplow was inspired by a fictional metal band a coworker made up for fun.

I don’t actually know if rice is one of the grains in the steaming mix of beer by-product I got from a local brewery today. I don’t know a lot about making beer, but brewers like Liquid Mechanics in my area are happy to donate the spent grains to farmers and gardeners. What I scooped into buckets and an old cooler was fluffy, still warm and smelled kind of nice. I’ve never used this as a soil amendment before but I did some research and it seems safe.

For starters, I dumped a load of the grains on my new experimental hugelkultur mound. Beneath that, besides snow, is a layer of cottonwood logs, sticks and bark, then upside-down turf I removed from nearby, then grass clippings and other biodegradable material including dirt from the yard. This does *not* include last year’s nightshades or squashes, as they may (and probably will) have and transmit blights or undesirable fungi. Stalky, seedy greens like orach I did include, and when they sprout in there, it’s a bonus.

grains_mound

I don’t want to dig and till; I’m trying to stick to the philosophy of building up, not digging down. On top of that, a bag of store bought cottonwood compost.

compost_grains_mound

It doesn’t look impressive so far. But I have a pretty good feeling about this becoming a hill of beans, then a hill of greens, then a site for more complicated plants like peppers. Because last year was pretty good for my peppers, I’ve gotten more into them, with a second generation of fish peppers, anchos, and some exotic spicy ones. I joined the hot peppers subreddit.

Periodically I come across heart-shaped instances in nature, like this bit of snow that dropped from an overhead branch.

snowheart

Before the snow, it was hot and sunny and I was able to dry a load of laundry including our homemade pandemic masks. One of the old shirts drying has a message for our neighbor’s kitty, Boo, who is adorable but seems to be stalking our birdy friends:

Here is our actual fish, Twerp.

twerp

He has plants in his underwater garden, too.

I didn’t put this on the spreadsheet as an expense, but I ordered a case of canned sparkling mineral water, and most of it went to the seedlings.

drinky_plants

Quench yourself

Wicked Garden

This is the weather that ended 2019’s growing season, October 19:

It wasn’t a great season to begin with, except for peppers, which is a first for me.

 

The seeds saved from Ancho and Fish Peppers are sprouting now. I started planting seeds January 12. This will cause a problem later if the plants grow successfully because I won’t have room for them inside under lights until late May. I’ll cross that bridge if and when I have to.

Number of what is planted, with amount germinated and growing in parentheses:

-Tomatoes 74 (19):

  • Pantano Romanesco: 12
  • Striped Roman: 12
  • Orange Jubilee: 13
  • Orange Jazz (this is a new one for me): 4 (2)
  • Pink Jazz (also new): 6 (5)
  • Brimmer (new): 6 (3)
  • Paul Robeson: 7 (3)
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast: 5
  • Cherokee Purple: 9 (6)

-Peppers 49 (22):

  • Jimmy Nardello: 8 (2)
  • Aji Pineapple: 4
  • Leysa (package said low germ, rare, not much hope for these): 5
  • Aji Charapita : 4
  • Ancho (Poblano): 8 (8)
  • Fish: 8 (8)
  • Striped bell pepper I got at the store and saved the seeds from: 4 (4)
  • Corni di Toro: 8

-Other 82(8):

  • Sesame: 18 (8) – these are tiny seeds and that is the count of little puck-like things they are growing in. There are several seeds sprouting per puck. If they mature, and that’s a reasonably-sized if, they will cover at least 20 feet of ground. I planned for this.
  • Basil and Cilantro: 17
  • Celery, Chinese Pink: 12
  • Celery, Utah Tall: 6
  • Celeriac: 12
  • Moss Rose (it’s a flower, I don’t even think you can eat it): 8
  • Artichoke: 5
  • Cardoon: 4

I’ve spent $84 on materials and seeds this year (spreadsheet needs updating), so if those listed above were all I grew, and all thrived, that would be a cost of $0.41 per plant. I don’t know why I bothered calculating that because there will be more plants and more materials such as growing medium. I will end up paying for mushroom compost from Hazel Dell Mushroom Farm because I avoid growing in animal parts such as feathers and fish corpses. It’s hard, really hard. I’m trying not to pay a lot for dirt or anything else, but our soil is hard-packed and devoid of nutrients and the weather is often extreme. I’m trying to build up soil with somewhat intensive gardening methods rather than raised beds with ideal soil that are effectively huge container gardens. There’s nothing wrong with that and gardeners get beautiful and delicious results that way. But I’m too cheap and I guess I like a challenge.

This summer we were on Long Island, New York, visiting family. To prepare for an afternoon boating we shopped at this absurdly bountiful, colorful farm stand in Amagansett. My cousin dared me to get out of there without spending at least $100 on picnic foods. I spent $90, just because I was challenged. And, frankly, that’s an extremely cheap lunch for the Hamptons. I think we spent that much just going out for ice cream.

Little EG relaxing after swimming and picnicking:

wp-1579985847833.jpg

Still to plant: Beans, squash, cucumber, greens, maybe carrots, maybe a new apple tree. This should increase the return, but also the work, quite a bit.

smol

Sunday: Olivier Giroud’s hair won the World Cup and it rained in Colorado

Those unrelated situations were the biggest news of the weekend. It was a great match. I almost didn’t care who won, but was leaning slightly to the underdogs of Croatia. They were so cohesive and tough.

I know kids are all gonna want Mbappe jerseys now, but Giroud’s hair did its part too.

Screenshot636 2018-07-17 10.11

Screenshot635 2018-07-17 10.07
Look at the French, with all their vowels and hair

Screenshot634 2018-07-17 09.50

In other news, there was a 30-degree F temperature drop to 70-something. Some rain finally soaked my area, although based on the smoke that remained visible after it cleared up I guess it didn’t fall on the parts of the Southwest that are on fire.

I had to pull up a tomato plant that looked like it was going to succumb to a blight. A strong plant could have overcome that I guess but this one was small and already compromised by her hail injuries. I feel bad for the plant and, while I’m at it, the fungus or whatever was killing it. I had to remove it to save the others. Pulling it up seemed like a violent act. I didn’t even let my 9-year-old son see me do it, because he’s sensitive like me.

There’s no way for me to know if or how plants feel. It’s not a stretch to relate to another mammal of a different species or a bird, but it’s a little more of a challenge to try to get inside the head of a fish or reptile. Understanding beings from the plant kingdom – the other kingdom – requires some real outside-the-box thinking. I know they don’t have a nervous system like mammals do, but they are living. I love them, raise them and eat them, which is a relationship many people have with some mammals and birds. I only eat plants, because I have to eat something. I feel like I owe them respect and stewardship, and I’m not sure how benevolent it really is for me to raise them up to die in the winter. Well, some don’t die, and virtually all of them live on via their seeds.

 

Having written all that, I still find this article about plant abuse hilarious.