Saturday, June 26, 2010

Meanwhile Back At the Ranch-ette

OK, a raised bed and a bunch of containers from the dumpster and recycling center aren't a ranchette, but still, one must pun in the title.

So, I now have 10-15 baby tomatoes. 3 baby pea pods, parsley, cilantro, 8 radishes harvested and 8 more in the ground, 3 volunteer squash plants, 7 buckets of potatoes (4 full to the top and 3 nearly to the top), lettuce, chard, kale, spinach, onions looking good, carrots making tops, beats, kohlrabi in pots, basil starting, 3 types of mint (two from Sally! Thanks Sally), strawberry plant growing but no berries yet, sage, a bit of oregano starting and a variety of other things trying to start.

Today, I had a nice salad entirely from the garden with a honey balsamic vinaigrette.
Of course Sally trumped that when I visited and she handed me strawberries out of her garden. Oh well. It was all good.

I also hung out laundry today. 6 loads. I can now see the floor where once was a 3 foot pile of laundry. Nice. There is a dry hot wind so the dish towels dried faster than I could hang them up. Even the jeans were dry in an hour.

There are a few sweatshirts out there still that I should go get momentarily. Stuff smells better when dried outside (and not just because I have salmon eggs curing for bait in dishes on the dining room floor...). And it was windy enough that things didn't come out all stiff. That is one very minor drawback to hanging things inside. When they just hang and dry slowly, they get a bit board like. With a good wind, the towels are actually soft. This is probably not a treat for most people, but for me it's a nice change after a winter of drying off with flat, stiff towels. Sure they fluff up by the second use, but still. Not quite as nice as summer towels.

Good thing stuff dries faster in the summer. I've been going through a couple outfits a day. Sweat plus dust blowing in wind does not do clothes any favors. In the winter I can get more wearings out of a pair of jeans.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My New Frugal Heros

They aren't "new" fact they are quite elderly, but I just heard about them. This is possibly because I am not now and have never been hooked into the minimalist art scene in NYC.

Anyway, I was watching this film...well, DVD...called "Herb and Dorothy." It came out in 2008, but just made it to me this week.

ANYWAY, Herb and Dorothy Vogel got married in the 1950s and lived their entire married lives in Manhattan on her salary as a librarian while spending his salary, as a postal worker, on art. Wow. They ended up amassing in their 1 bedroom apartment what is perhaps the most extensive collection of minimalist art out there. They had stuff from Warhol, Christo (they are bffs with Christo and his lady Jeane-Claude, even exchanging cat sitting for art). They just kept buying art they liked. Usually from artists who were not yet famous. Many did become famous.

It's amazing. They didn't make much and were living on very small pensions in a TINY apartment crammed with art. Literally crammed. Still, they didn't sell it. They donated it to the National Museum. The National Museum could only handle 1000 pieces. There were 2500 more pieces. So, there are now 50 pieces offered to a museum in each of the 50 states. The National Museum used many many full size moving vans (the semi-trailer kind) to empty the apartment of art. The curator said one of his greatest fears was that once he managed to get it all inventoried so he could present the collection to the board and see if the museum would accept it...that the board might say "no" and it would have to go back. Incredible.

Herb and Dorothy donated to the National Museum as an act of public service. They could have been extremely wealthy if they sold the art, but they chose to donate it. And to donate it to the public. This museum has no admission charge. Anyone can go enjoy the art. (Not all is on display at one time of course.)

What impresses me frugal-wise here is that these folks really enjoyed their lives and art. They saved money in all other areas of their lives so that they could spend money on what was meaningful to them. They still do it! The National Museum decided to give Herb and Dorothy a small annuity to help them live more comfortably in their little apartment now emptied of art. Instead, the Vogels continue to patronize up and coming, as well as established, artists. They still go to art openings. They go twice a year to the National Museum to visit their art collection and view favorite pieces.

They still chat weekly with many important artists. Meanwhile, they also have fish, turtles and cats. People they worked with their whole lives did not know that they were important collectors. They are unassuming, get to know artists and spend according to their priorities. Amazing.

The movie has shots of their apartment. Small. Furnished with tattered items. And brimming with art. They clearly love their simple, frugal, lives.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Of Plants and Crap

So, the garden is super up. I've had my second harvest already. The first was a few parsley sprigs for potato soup. This morning was a couple of nice radishes. Not a normal breakfast, but they were good (with a hazelnut-milk cocoa mocha...speaking of clean colons...).

I re-buried the potatoes again yesterday. The first pots are pretty well topped off! No doubt there will be some compaction of the top layer and I'll fill that in with compost, but that is all they'll hold. Hope there's taters in them thar buckets. The second round of 'tater 'tainers (I'M TOTALLY COPYRIGHTING that phrase for when I market pre-planted buckets of potatoes) is about 1/4 to 1/3 full of dirt now. The blue potatoes show more vigourous leaf growth in general. We'll see what that means for tuber production.

The lettuce and other greens are pretty well up but not ready for eating. Carrots continue to sprout and come up. The kohlrabi package says 20-30 days to germinate, but they've been coming up in about a week in the raised bed and the containers. Looks like all but 2 onion starts have actually grown tops and hopefully will grow bottoms.

Sher is supposed to send some of the "walking onions" from Iowa this fall so I can see if they work here. Could make an interesting winter crop for the raised bed.

The neighbors and their insufferable boxer dog (what a whiny bit of crap...the dog may be "nice" but they let it squeal and whine for an hour or more multiple times per day) rototilled their garden just yesterday. They'll probably get a better crop than me. Not much to be done about that.

I replaced the dead strawberry pot with a sage plant. The mystery square in the garden is filled with a late tomato. That makes 10 tomato plants and 12 peppers. Mostly hot peppers. The beets are looking especially lively. Here's hoping I get something other than just beets, potatoes and onions to eat...though at least those!

I have one last GIANT container I found (like it had a 6' tree in it or something). What should I plant in there? Perhaps a late squash? I'll take your suggestions and plant accordingly.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taters Taters Everywhere!

KEY-RIPES! (that's "cripes" in emphatic-speak)

So, I planted those SEVEN containers of potatoes with one per bucket and 3 in my recycling bin (funny that I repurposed something I actually used EVERYDAY rather than any one of a number of items of crap that I never touch...oh was the right size and already had holes in the bottom and I can de-repurpose it at the end of the season and make it a recycle bin again).
Anywho, so I keep filling the buckets 'n bin up over the leaves like you're supposed to according to general wisdom on the interwebs and the potato leaves in the more established buckets consistently grow up through an inch of soil/compost literally overnight. Like I bury 3 inches of growth under 4 inches of soil after work and by morning the leaves are up again. I hope there are potatoes connected to all that leafery. Anyway, they look cool and like I'm a super good gardener.

It looks like the kohlrabi in a pot (an alarmingly undersized pot) have come up. I'll have to thin them. The beets in a pot are up (as are beats in the garden). Onions in the garden and the pots are showing good growth and there is now at least one radish attached to the radish tops. That's already better radish production than last year.

The beans are nowhere. I might just stick a lentil in the ground or something because the beans that went in weeks ago are showing no signs of coming up. I've got them under screens to keep the birds from eating them AND I presoaked the beans so they should have started. I'll try again. It's getting late.

The volunteer squash/melon is showing good leafery as well. I know it's a space hog so I hope its roots don't kill any of it's neighbors. Peas came up. About half the ones I planted seem to be up and growing. Next time I'll double plant or sprout them better before planting.

Lots of lettuce seems to be doing well along with the chard. Of course the chard looked great last year but once up bolted immediately so not really an edible crop.

In other news, I'll be on the radio every Sunday for the rest of the summer. The dude who ran the alternate Sundays for Peace Radio sadly passed away so I'm hoping to keep the show going until someone can be found to take over permanently. Tune into from 2-4pm PACIFIC time to hear DJ Sally P and the Jills (though on alternate Sundays it may just be me weeping quietly into the mic because I've panicked about keeping the show going...actually, Sally is helping on the 13th...I think...and I'm sure others will help too).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another Week Another Pot

I keep planting more and more pots and bins and whatever I can find. I'm STILL not up to the 9X20 parking space area!! If I count the sparse berry patch I can get there almost with plenty of room left for walkways among the pots and between the raised bed and the pots AND enough room for 4 or 5 5-gallon buckets of water that I leave out to warm up to air temperature before watering. This is recommended in the "Square Foot Garden" book and also lets the chlorine dissipate before I use them. I've also been setting the buckets under the eaves (no fancy crap like roof gutters and downspouts here) to catch rain and morning dew run off. For most of a week I got all the garden water from there. Why am I watering when it rains you may well ask? Well, it's been raining SO MUCH that the raised bed was getting waterlogged, as were the containers. So the raised bed and many of the pots are actually covered to avoid their getting overly wet and drowning the plants. It already looks like one strawberry start is croaking.

BUT: The following appear (note APPEAR) to be doing well:

2 of the tomatoes in pots have actual tiny tomatoes on them.
1 of the peppers that suffered major setbacks in the raised bed is showing clear new growth.
The mint in a pot is growing gang busters.
Onions in garden and in pots are growing tops fast.
The 8 radishes in the raised bed (time to plant 8 more) are growing nice tops though no radish development yet. Last year I had giant radish tops that never did grow the bulbous bits for eating. Still, it's all green manure for the garden so it's all good.

The 7, yes, 7...and I'm tempted to plant more...containers of potatoes are growing leaves fast and furious. The 4 planted early, mid-May, are almost full. I let the leaves grow up a few inches, then bury with more soil/compost. Then let them grow again then bury again until the containers are full. The purple potatoes were off to the fastest start, but now the yukons are catching up. I have two russets that have grown eyes and if I had enough dirt and a container, they'd be planted too.
Carrots, beats, peas, spinach, parsley, chard, lettuce, kale, calendula, basil, and cilantro appear to have sprouted and started growing. We'll see if that's what is really there.
The volunteer squash/melon is growing nice leaves. It will be intersting to see what it turns out to be.

I planted many more pots on Saturday. I even put some cherry tomato seeds in a pot or two to see if they will actually grow and fruit. The package says they will and I got some cherry toms last year, but I think that was from a start, not seed. We'll see.

I also planted more herbs, echinacea, calendula, a bean, and other things in pots just to see if they will work. A rack to hold 4inch pots blew into the yard during one of the recent rainstorms so I kept it. I have plenty of 4inch pots from buying starts the last few years and I may use it to start some kale or bigger lettuces for fall.

I wish I had a rhubarb plant. The neighbors have a GIANT one, but I have not been able to convince it to cross the fence like its pal the raspberry patch did. I wonder if the neighbors are pissed about that.

I meant to plant quinoa and lentils this year but forgot and I think I need deeper soil. If I find another big pot or bucket, I'll give it a try.

It's already apparent that if I were a good gardener, I could grow a buttload of food in a parking spot!