Saturday, March 22, 2014

Do You Know What Time It Is?

I got a little email from myself this morning that said, "Seven weeks until average last frost date!"  That means it's time.

Tomato time.

This year's seed selection is large.  Almost vast, actually.  Some of these I bought, some I was given by a friend.  No, her name is not 'Burpee.'
  • Super Sweet 100 hybrid cherry tomatoes.  I've grown these for the last 3 years out of the same seed packet.  I finally planted the last of them today.  These things grow cherry tomatoes by the gross.  70 days.
  • Yellow Pear heirloom.  This is my first time growing yellow tomatoes.  I've eaten yellows grown by others and they were okay although I don't believe they're any less acidic than their red brethren.  These seeds were handed to me by a gardening friend, so I'm planting them.  We'll see.  76 days.
  • Mortgage Lifter heirloom.  The tomato of myth and legend that, allegedly, helped a man who was down on his luck save his home.  That's good enough for me to try them.  80 days.
  • Bloody Butcher.  The name says it all.  55 days.
  • Independence Day hybrid.  These are almost the earliest of the lot at 56 days to maturity.  Hence the name.  I want to see if they really will be ready by the 4th of July.
  • Big Pink hybrid.  Pink tomatoes just seem wrong.  I want to see if they are any good.  75 days.
  • Roma hybrid.  Your basic paste tomato.  76 days.
I planted all but the roma tomato seeds today.  All except the romas are indeterminate types.  They look a little bit exactly like this right now:

Yep, that's three of each.  I'm not taking any chances on misfires.  I'd much rather have extra plants to try to get rid of gift to my gardening friends than not enough of something for my own purposes. I'll get to the romas tomorrow, maybe.  I need to make some more paper pots and I'm too tired to hunt for the pot maker right now. 

Now there's a spiffy little gadget!  It makes biodegradable seed starting pots out of newspaper.  Mine is made of maple, I think, and I got it on Etsy.  This isn't the one I got, but that shop is no longer on Etsy.  I sorta wish I had the one in the link.  Looks kinda like the Cadillac of paper pot makers.

Oh, and for the record, this is what some of the peppers look like.  Come to think of it, the eggplants look rather the same:

Lots of the peppers still look more or less like the tomatoes do right now.  I think my seed starting shelf has been too cold.  Time to dig out the heat mats.

Tomorrow is the farmer's market sellers meeting.  I. Can't. Wait!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I haven't forgotten about this guideline.  I did a bunch of web research about authenticity this winter.  It was a surprisingly hot topic.  Apparently there are people out there who are trying to pass themselves off as authentic this or that when they are anything but.

Who'da thunk it?

But I can't worry myself with that stuff.  The authenticity I'm concerned with this year as I keep this watchword in mind is all my own.

Learning to listen to the inner guide that lives in my heart hasn't been easy.  Actually, the listening is easy as hell.  It's the follow through that needs work.  For example:

I hate the gym.  I hate it with every fiber of my being and I make no attempt to hide it.  I hate the treadmill.  I hate the stationary bike.  I hate, hate, hate the elliptical.  They are so boring and pointless.  They make me want to put my own eyes out with a spork.  The thought of standing there in the constant pursuit of lifting ever heavier weights makes me want to run screaming into the night.

Well, maybe not actually run.  Running hurts my ankles.  I don't run.  I can, however, waddle rather quickly when necessary.

So tell me why in the hell do I keep trying to go to the gym to get exercise?  Because someone said that's how to do it.

I go.  I do whatever ridiculous activity of my choosing feeling a fool the entire time.  I feel a sense of hollow accomplishment.  Then I go and do the same thing again.  And again.  And again.  It's revolting and mind-numbing and I can't stand it.

And it's So. Not. Me. I tried so hard to like it.  I tried so hard to feel a sense of accomplishment when I went from 20 to 30 minutes on the bike.  Or that time I decided to do some intervals of light jogging during my dreadmill session.  Did I mention I don't run?  Yeah.  That didn't pan out so well.

Therefore, as of right now, I've sworn off the gym.  I've promised myself to never have to go again if I don't want to.  I'm listening to my inner guide and she's saying, "Let. It. Go."  I've done this before, I know.  But this time, I mean it.  I'm done.

Truth be told I don't have it in me to be that focused on my appearance anymore.  Sure, I used to.  But the thing I really want is good health.  I know that some of that will come with weight loss. Frankly, I can't worry about that now.  I'm more worried about what is going into my body than what is coming off.  The quality and quantity of my meals.  The fresh air.  The fitness that comes from living a clean life and an doing honest day's work.

And, I learned something new.

The scale is a bitch.  It lies.  You think that weight you lost is fat, but it's probably not.  It's more likely to be water and it will be back tomorrow or the next day. Sometimes if the scale isn't changing, your body is but that bitch won't tell you.  In the end, the number your scale shows you when you step on board is only a representation of the effect of gravity on the physical mass of your body.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It is not your self worth.  It is not a reflection of who you are as a person.  It is not a definition of your attractiveness to the opposite (or not) sex.  It is not the thing that lets you sleep well at night...more often, it's the reverse.  And, if you do somehow manage to lose weight and get to the place you wanted to be, you won't stay there without constant vigilence. 

I don't know if I have that kind of persistence in me.

No.  No more.  My life and my time are more valuable than that. I can't spend the time in relentless pursuit of something so pointless and fleeting.  I've sorta drifted off center a bit.  I'm righting my course now.  Heading back to alignment with who I authentic self.  This doesn't mean I'm giving up.  I will get smaller and healthier, but I have to do it my own way.  I will find other metrics besides weight loss to measure my progress.  Say, climbing the stairs at work without wheezing or finally being able to wear those slacks again.  That would be a good start.

Because, really, if I actually get somewhere by trying to be someone or something I'm not, how long can I possibly hope to stay there?

Can You Smell That?

It's in the air.  I'm not talking about the feed lot on the edge of town although that odor is omnipresent in the atmosphere these days.

No.  I'm talking about spring.  Here we are just past the Ides of March and spring is definitely in the air.  I'm talking robins.  I'm talking greening grass.  I'm talking crocuses poking up from the ground.  I get spring fever really bad and this mid-March weekend was glorious for my garden and my spirit.

This year's tax refund treat was a little electric tiller/cultivator by Earthwise.  I bought it with my own hard-earned money stripped shamelessly from Uncle Sam's hand.  What do I love about this tiller?  Many things!  First of all, no gas or oil to mess with.  Then there's the push button starter.  That's right, no pull cord to yank my shoulder out of joint.  It weighs about 25 pounds so there is no struggling to guide the tiller and it goes after the soil like it's collecting a debt.

Yesterday, I assembled 'Tilly' and took her for a test spin. In about five minutes, I had turned over and incorporated the leaves and grass I used to mulch these two beds last fall.  Another five minutes of work and they'll be ready for planting.

Emboldened by my tilling prowess, I escorted Tilly to the opposite end of the garden where we had not yet broken ground for planting.  After about an hour, Tilly and I had created this:

No.  This is not a grave site.  At least I hope it's not.  This is the site of my potato patch for this year.  I am anxiously awaiting construction of a nice, wooden raised bed about 8 x 8 feet square.   I am very impressed with the performance of this little tiller and I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a small tiller/cultivator.  This is the one I got.

Yep, it's time to think about potatoes again.  I remembered this when I went to the Big Town to get a new dog bed for Lucky.  In a fit of pique triggered by God knows what, last week he managed to flay and gut his old bed.  The gore factor was pretty significant and we had to haul the carcass away forthwith.  He went without a bed for almost a week.  The way he acted you'd think he had been consigned to the garage floor.  The living room has perfectly fine, if soiled and somewhat worn carpeting suitable for lounging by the canine crew.  Nonetheless, he moped and carried on while restlessly shifting from one spot on the floor to another heaving heavy sighs until I broke down and got him a new bed this afternoon.  Here he is 'enjoying' his new bed:

You're stealing my soul!
Lucky isn't super fond of having his picture taken.  I have more shots of the back of his head than anything else.  He's a beautiful animal with amazing blue eyes.  If I didn't have the pics from his puppy hood, I'd never be able to prove it.  In contrast, here is Dotti-dog on the same bed less than 30 seconds later:

Caught her mid-lick. This dog always makes me smile.
Back to the potatoes.  After much hemming and hawing at the display in the garden center carefully weighing the qualities of the available varieties, I went with the early season Yukon Gold and a white, mid-season called Superior. Stay tuned for performance critique and results as the season progresses.  I hope to plant by the first of April.

When I think of planting potatoes, I also think of planting onion sets.  This year is no different and the varieties are the same ol', same ol' I get every year.  Generic white, generic red and generic yellow.  The shallots grew gangbusters last year and they were right tasty so they went in the cart as well.

Yes, I know 300 is a lot of onions.  Typically I wind up discarding about 15-20% of the sets due to decay and then only about half of what's left will actually grow.  Plus, I've never gotten an onion any bigger than a tennis ball out of my garden.  Small onions don't bother me though.  I hate to leave a part of an onion in the fridge.  It never seems to get used up and pretty soon the fridge stinks of onion.  I also decided to try growing onions from seed this year.  It's a new thing for me so I'm reluctant to not plant onion sets as well.  I may have an abundance of onions at the farmer's market this year...which is another topic coming soon.  My first farmer's market experience as a seller!

So that's where I'm at.  I've started a few seeds...peppers and eggplants and the onions of course...but I'm not ready to talk about those.  For now, I'll dream about taters with sour cream and chives.  At least until the snap peas come on.