Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

My vision is to create a business from my garden, so that I can afford to leave my job, have the garden as income, and paint and write. I also want my customers to read the story of my garden, look at pictures, and get an idea of the process of the work of the garden.

Monday, August 25, 2003

I had a curious experience in the garden this weekend, and it reminds me that one needs to be extremely observant in order to begin to understand what goes on.

A couple of weeks ago I ran out of salad greens. It got too hot and they all bolted (grow in an upright manner to flower and set seed). And I didn't have any more seedlings ready to put in the garden to grow more salad.

So I decided to direct seed and went out to a bed that had been vacated and had recently been growing green filet beans. Beans are a good crop to plant before lettuce, as they add nitrogen to the soil. So I cleaned the bed, raked it, watered it, and scattered the tiny lettuce seeds over the entire bed. Lettuce needs light to germinate, but I knew we might get more downpours, as it had been raining every day for weeks. So I covered the bed with cardboard in order that the tiny seeds wouldn't wash downhill. This particular bed is on a slight incline.

A couple of days later I remembered the cardboard and thought that I should take it off, as it was too dark for the germination. So I took off the cardboard, but I didn't see any seeds lying on the bed. I checked the bottom of the cardboard, to see if they had gotten stuck to it, but didn't see any seeds. So, I shrugged, not knowing what was up, but thinking that maybe the seeds had gotten pushed down into the soil, and in a few days they would germinate.

Some days later, I went to check, and sure enough, I saw maybe a dozen baby lettuce plants that had germinated. So I thought that in a few more days, there would be many more seedlings, as I had scattered hundreds of seeds. But when I came back in that time, there were no more than previously. Hmmm. Perhaps the seed wasn't viable any more. Perhaps it was too hot, as lettuce is really a cool weather crop.

More days passed, and I checked again. No more seedlings. So I thought I would give the seeds another try before deciding that they weren't viable anymore. I went out and watered the bed. Then I scattered more seeds on the top, knowing that we weren't going to have rain, and the nights had just started to get cooler, so perhaps these were now the right conditions, if the seed was still good.

After broadcasting the seeds, I went on to other things that afternoon, and a while later came back to that bed. I was staring at the soil there, when I thought I saw one of the white lettuce seeds moving. Indeed, it was moving. Looking closer, an ant was carrying it away. I looked even closer, and there was another ant, this time carrying a brown seed along. The ants were tiny, and carrying the seeds which were bigger than they were. And lettuce seeds are pretty small. I watched for a while, and saw numerous ants coming along, attaching themselves to seeds and carrying them over to a small hole, down which my lettuce seeds were disappearing. All I could do was hope that there would still be enough seeds left, as I didn't even need all the seeds I had scattered to grow. I would be thinning them anyway, after they got about an inch tall.

Coincidently, this past weekend, when I observed this encounter, my stepdaughter and her husband brought a documentary that they had rented from a NY video store, a film about insects. After dinner that same night, we put on the film, and it was a charming film showing insects in their habitats, no dialogue or voice-over, only music and a kind of chanting as we watched the movie. But during the film, they showed ants carrying various seeds back to their nest, and stocking them away in a kind of chamber. So interesting that I observed this and saw the movie on the same day. And I never would have considered that the seeds were being taken away. I would have probably thrown the seeds out, thinking that they had gotten ruined.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Talked with my brother on the phone last night; he called because I sent him a long chatty e-mail. He's won an Emmy! For his work on the last Olympics coverage, he says, and will soon have an engraved statuette to show for it. He's also making a movie--a documentary, and was filming (digitally) on Martha's Vineyard recently.

We had a nice, all-over-the-place talk, and agreed that, when visiting family, three days is the preferred max. I myself, think that two days is the best; any more and you get sucked down under into the family dynamic. But that could be because of my own neuroses, and I will certainly agree that I am the champion in my family of those.

I asked him about the ferry from North Kingstown to Martha's Vineyard. I am yearning to take a bicycle ride down my brother's driveway, pedal over to Quonset Point, and take a ferry to Martha's Vineyard, where I've never been, by the way, and stay for a few days. Preferably in September, when the tourists have left, and the weather is still warm. Maybe next year. I tried to sell my husband on the idea, and he wasn't eager, but didn't say no. Trouble is, there's always Sable and the chickens to deal with. Well, if I want to do a solo trip, I can plan one for a few days. Trouble is, I think I am, right now, as I spend my hours searching for places to stay, deeply stuck in an illusion that if I go there, I can have a summer. Or if I go there, my life will somehow be better. I am having a geographic cure-fantasy!

I can't afford to go anyway--need to concentrate on getting the oil heat in the house. I'm making a bit less money from the garden, as one of my customers is on an extended vacation, and all the salad bolted, and everything is falling victim to the onslaught of the bugs.

But! Great watermelons--why did I never grow this before? These little baby ones don't take up too much room in the refrigerator, and they are filled with good nutrients. I am eating it every day for lunch dessert. Along with my tomato salad, and some cold beets.

I think my beach-dream is a way to avoid moving into my brand new painting studio space!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

It's late, I am leaving in five minutes. Very slow at work. Have two biographies to write. Did a lot of e-mailing, and cleaning, organizing. Tonight we are going to the garden club annual pot-luck-make-it-from-your-garden supper outdoor, well in a screened pergola. Michel is making something, I don't know what, but I asked him not to use up all the ripe tomatoes on the kitchen table, as they are for my customers.

Have to go now, curious to see what he made. I need to harvest some things quickly before we go--basil, and broccoli raab.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Very busy at work today--didn't take much time for lunch--so now I feel entitled to blog a bit. So many changes so quickly in the garden. The lettuce all bolted with the two hot days on Thursday and Friday. The cucumber beetles and the squash bugs have ravaged the zucchini plants, only one left standing, and I am sure that will fall by tonight. They are now getting into the melons, and the melons are stressed because they haven't had much sunlight this past month.

We are going to lose the pumpkins, and the winter squash, as well. So, what will I have for Fall? Well, salad will be back in a few weeks, meanwhile there are lots of tomatoes and potatoes, peppers coming in, still plenty of basil. I harvested a small watermelon yesterday, cut it in half, and delivered one half to a client today. I am eating the other half. It is very sweet and juicy. I don't know how to harvest watermelon and tell that it is ready--so I am giving my customers half. They are really baby watermelons, and will fit nicely in people's refrigerators.

My new bed of beets is coming up, and last night I saved my bed of chard from going under--I picked off all the slimy leaves that accumulated last week, and I weeded well. I think I have enough to make it through the fall.

It's just that I planted so many melons, and they are too stressed. I threw two rotting ones to the chickens. They aren't ready to harvest, but are rotting due to so much rain, and lack of air (my fault--planted too close. Also, I don't think we will get any eggplants--the flea beetles are still around, and they usually leave with the hot weather, but there really was only rain.

I'm sick of my garden this summer. I'm sick of having wet feet.

I made spaghetti sauce with some fresh tomatoes and basil over the weekend. Well, I guess I will be buying winter squash elsewhere this fall.

We rented Adaptation, and I watched it twice over the weekend. I liked it a lot, Michel thought the ending was false. I am reading a biography of Virginia Woolf, and can't put it down. She was really mentally ill all through her life. Right now where I am reading it, she has just submitted a manuscript, her first novel, and she has a breakdown, because she can't stand the anxiety of thinking about other people judging her work. Interesting.

Friday, August 15, 2003

It's been a long time since I posted. I was so very busy at work on Monday and Tuesday, that I barely took time for lunch, never mind posting. On Wednesday, I was supposed to go to jury duty. But when I called in on Tuesday night to find out whether I really had to show up, I found out I didn't have to. Being psyched up to not go to work, I decided that I would take Wednesday off anyway. Which I did. All contingencies were in place at work for me to be at jury duty, so I did not feel guilty about not showing up. I knew, though, that I would have to own up to my taking the day off, and put in for Paid Time Off, rather than just pretend that I actually did have jury duty. Can't do those things too much anymore. I need to be as honest as I can. For one thing, once I own up to my devious ways, I don't have to worry that I will be found out. So when I came in yesterday, I told my boss about not being called for jury duty, but needing a day off. And I must have needed it, because I slept all afternoon.

We only got a slight taste of the Northeast Blackout. We had a trememdous power surge at work yesterday afternoon, our computers and lights went out, then back on, then out, then back on, then out, then back on, all within seconds. I quickly turned off my computer, and when the lights stopped flickering, turned it back on, and everything seemed okay. No one knew about the huge blackout affecting most of New England, Canada, New York, and parts of the Midwest, until we left work, and listened to the car radio.

I remember living through the blackout in New York in 1977. I am not going to talk about that here, right now, as my experience, while interesting to me, is really trivial.

Makes me think again, about contingency plans in general. Keeping the car tank filled, carrying a flashlight, having batteries, water. At times we are better with this than at other times.

New obsession--going to Paris for two weeks. Am searching the internet for an apartment where we can stay in November. I figure we will be able to afford to go then, but I don't know that for sure. Meanwhile, I am entertaining myself with looking for a place to stay. Cheap and clean. Michel needs to get his passport renewed.

Monday, August 11, 2003

I wrote for my blog on Saturday, but after I finished, I somehow lost it. I have no idea where it went, but my home computer is a Mac, and maybe the settings are different. Anyway it's gone. Vanished. It was a pretty long blog, and can't locate it.

We did get our rate reduction from the mortgage company. So, now we need to take action to get oil heat in our house. I will try to call at least one company tomorrow so we can get estimates.

Our zucchini plants are succumbing to the onslaught of the squash bugs. Also, our pumpkins. Next year, I will try to do succession planting for the zucchini. Really didn't do too much this weekend, just a lot of weeding, and some harvesting on Sunday night.

We had a delicious tomato salad on Saturday. I could eat tomato salad every day. But I think with the lack of sunlight, the tomatoes don't taste as good as last year. They are still good, but not quite as flavorful as last year's crop.

I direct-seeded some lettuce on Sunday, and covered the bed with cardboard, because we were expecting more rain, and the rain would just wash the seeds downhill. So hopefully the cardboard will keep that from happening.

I harvested the first bell peppers this weekend.

Have to go to jury duty this week. I wonder how long that will be for. It is sort of a unknown, showing up for jury duty. Could be a day, a week, a month. Or nothing.

I was so busy at work today, trying to get it all done before Wednesday.

We rented Mulholland Drive on Saturday. And Eyes Wide Shut, which I explained to Michel, we have already seen. If anyone can explain Mulholland Drive, I would appreciate it. I think Tom Cruise is laughable.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I'm just not going to take it personally that few people comment on my blogs--after all, that is not why I am doing this.

After going to a meeting, sometimes I am inspired to write. Today, this morning, I had signed up to chair the morning meeting, and had to get up a bit earlier to get there to set up. It had rained again last night, pretty heavily, and I knew I needed to give myself time since one road I travel on can get tricky--flooding, trees down, etc, and I might have to take an alternate route--and all the alternate routes are a longer drive. Luckily, the road was okay, although I often had to cross over the line to avoid flooded spots--good thing the traffic at 5:30 am is lighter than at 6:30.

So I am driving along, listening to a soft rock radio station--out of character for me, as I usually just listen to NPR--but I've noticed that more and more I am acting out of character--and the thought comes to me that if I could actually achieve maturity in my lifetime, how different my life would be. Just popped into my head, and I pondered, but could not visualize exactly what it would mean for me to be a grown-up.

Went to the meeting, and it was the Big Book meeting, and the chapter was to the employer. We read the second part, going around the room, and then people shared. It just made me think about how long in my life I have been totally immature regarding jobs, and employment. I am not going to go into it here, but suffice to say that it reflects an attitude of entitlement. I have no idea how I got that entitlement attitude, but it has fueled resentments all my life about working. Now that I have a job with excellent working conditions, and I am able to feel gratitude for these conditions, as well as for having the job, I am able to reflect a lot on these old attitudes and only now, am able to let them go.

The garden business is a dream of mine, but it is not my final dream--it is but a means to an end. And I don't know how it will unfold. Lately I have felt too tired to throw myself into the garden work, and have let myself relax more about it. Luckily, now it is harvest time, and the harvesting is an ongoing process, so that we have platters of ripening tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini that I pick every day, and a big bowl of potatoes in the kitchen. When I get someone's order ready, I just have to select the ripe tomatoes, pick a few of this and some of that, and put them into bags. It seems the harvesting time is now way down.

So I have been reading more. And thinking about writing, and looking into graduate schools. If I am to continue to work for the next ten years, perhaps a masters degree will make the difference between retiring with little, and retiring with more. Who knows. I am just exploring the possibilities. I have been doing more writing for my job, and am encouraged by my boss and co-worker on my writing. But I know I need to read more, and more classics.

All of this makes me feel like split personalities. The garden. The house. Painting. Work. Working on feeling healthier, not the way I have been going, throwing all good-food sense to the wind. Growing up--what does that mean?

Monday, August 04, 2003

Bugs--the tyranny of bugs on my pumpkins. Michel and I spent about two hours yesterday scraping the eggs of the vine borer beetle off of the big leaves in the pumpkin patch. Every leaf had a collection of eggs, and on some of the leaves I was able to catch the bug in the act of laying--or what's even more interesting--catching two beetles mating. Sometimes a clutch of eggs had just hatched, and the ugliest tiny beetles were all right there. We sprayed the newly hatched with alcohol, and flipped the laying ones and the mating ones into jars of soapy water. They insisted on living! And I had to keep pushing them down. All of this will no doubt bring me bad karma. We tried to analyze why this infestation--perhaps the soil wasn't right--we had never grown anything there before, perhaps we left too many weeds growing, hard to tell the reason, but we know we can't plant any of the squash family there for a while. If we manage to salvage any of the plants, and acquire any pumpkins, or if we have to rip them all out and burn them, we will in either case plant a cover crop there for the remainder of the season.

Lovely weekend. Kids came, and we had a grilled dinner--our stove ran out of gas, and we couldn't use it. For some reason, at first this upset me, but I got over it in minutes, and decided to just not worry about how we were going to survive without an oven. Well, I had bought a free-range chicken and a dozen ears of corn, and no way to cook them. Michel offered the grill as our solution. And we were totally happy.

We all watched Bob Le Flambeur on the VCR. The kids had brought it from NY. What an interesting movie, totally convincing about the addiction of gambling. Michel was captured by it as it took place in the area of Paris where he grew up.

I finished Long Day's Journey Into Night--enjoyed it immensely. Now I want to learn about the background of it's being.

I planted more basil and started to pland Red Russian Kale, but got rained out. That's when I finished the play. Had a great weekend! Rain absolves me from not accomplising anything in the garden.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Let's see. Garden stuff--which, after all is my official reason for publishing this blog. We are attempting to put up the farmstand this weekend. Michel built a beautiful table out of an old barn door, complete with old hardware. He thinks it will get stolen, as it is a valued commodity. I need to make some signs, and we will see how to put up the umbrella. I also plan to make some raspberry jam this weekend.

We will have potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, string beans, peppers, basil for sale. I might put out some greens, if I can figure out how to display them without them wilting. Maybe not.

We tried to trap the critter that's been coming into the chicken coop hallway and eating the cat food. We put the remaining cat, Repeat, into the house last night, and set a have-a-heart trap for the animal. But it is a smart one. All the food was gone, and the trap sprung, but no animal. Now, how did it do that?

We will try again this weekend. Whatever it is, it tends to create a big mess. Could be a raccoon.

I will be working on the fall garden this weekend, and trying to get into the flower bed and the herb garden to weed. That's a daunting task.

I went back to the doctor and he took some blood tests, including a Lyme's test, and he put me back onto antibiotics, which I am unhappy about, but am anxious to see what the Lyme's test shows. He said that there is a syndrome called post-Lyme fibromyalgia, that some people get. I have to do some research on this.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?