• Tag Archives Garden
  • A Year of No Winter, Now With No Spring?

    Imbolc                                         Woodpecker Moon

    OK.  So, there was this place that used to have winter but had it replaced by a season of cloudy skies and what passes for cold in the southern states.  Then, that season ended and summer began.  Minnesota 2011-2012

    Not kidding.  It’s 60 degrees here today, March 11th.  And this doesn’t seem to be an aberration, the temps go like this for highs:  59, 65, 70, 67, 68.  And that gets us through Friday.  It may throw the bee season into a conundrum since my package bees don’t arrive until mid-April and the bloom cycle could be accelerated by as much as a month.

    This is also a year when I didn’t start any vegetables.  Not a one.  We moved the hydroponics into the garage for storage so we could consolidate the dog crates in one place. I imagine the places I buy plants will have used the same calendar as usual and we could waste a month or so of available warmer weather.  In other words we could have a growing season up to 6 weeks longer than normal.  But we’re not ready for it and won’t be.

    The Great Wheel continues to turn, but the holidays may usher in different weather than usual.  Climate change is well under way.  I hope the climate change deniers have a ringside seat in hell to the catastrophe they’ve created.  I know, that sounds extreme, but I mean it.

    The deniers will not and never could change the basic science behind global warming, all they could ever do was slow down humanity’s response to it, a slowing down that amounts to a criminal act, a felony against generations yet to be born.  They need to be held responsible for their greedy, stupid, infantile actions.

    But they probably won’t be.  They’ll die off before the worst of it hits.  That’s why I hope hell has a special viewing room for these shrunken souls.

    Would you like me to tell you what I really believe?

  • Under the Lights

    Spring            Waning Moon of Winds

    The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem. – Walt Whitman

    Business meeting and plants this morning.  The business meeting went just fine, our financial management continues to work for us and not against us.  Wish I could say the same for the financial markets.  Sigh.  Decided to check.  Wish granted: Dow Leaps 497 Points on Treasury Plan.  Yeah.

    My seedlings, grown over the last couple of weeks, sprouted roots which is the time to move them to their next medium, in this case soil in peat and coconut fiber pots with the exception of four chard and one mustard green that I put in lava rock and in the hydroponics.  The broccoli, egg plants, onions, leeks, mustard and collard greens, cauliflower and huckelberry now have soil around their sprouting medium.  They are all under the lights still.   Moving to larger size containers strained my space, though with some jiggering I got them all in new places and still under the lights.

    Some of them have to move out soon to make way for the seedlings that need to get started on April 1st and April 15th.  Just when they were getting comfortable.  Hmmm.  I may have problems here.  Seems onions started by seed should not go outside until May.  This will definitely cramp the April batch of plants.

  • Change and Changes

    68  bar falls 30.06  0mph NNE  dew-point 38  sunrise 6:45  set 7:34  Lughnasa

    First Quarter of the Harvest Moon   rise 4:49  set 12:17


    Corn, Bleeding Heart, Impatiens, Beets and Beans at 3pm

    This morning I got up, ate breakfast and went straight outside.  Posting in the morning has begun to interfere with other projects.  Even so, I like to do it.  The posting gives a start to the day.  Just too long a start sometimes.

    Till noon I cleaned up old wire fencing so we can recycle it on Saturday.  At noon I began the sun/shade survey for our ecological gardens project.  Instead of shading in a map I decided to use the digital camera and print contact sheets of prints shot at 9AM, noon, 3pm, 6pm.  I stand in the same location for each shot.  It takes about 20 images to cover the whole yard.

    After the nap I went out into the wide world to collect meds and some ink for my Canon color printer.  This is the first time I have purchased ink for this printer, in fact it’s the first time I’ve purchased ink for any printer other than my HP L4 since 1991.  The cost of color ink impressed me.  High.  Ouch.

    About a year ago right now Kate and I attended a conference in Iowa City, Iowa.  Focused on climate change and the issues involved, I came away convinced I needed to get involved in some direct way.  I made a list of things to do at the conference, but as the year has gone by I realize I have gotten a much better handle on personal action. Continue reading  Post ID 13350

  • Bozo the Clown and Jesse Helms Die

    77  bar falls 30.01 1mph SW  dew-point 50  Summer, pleasant

    Waxing Crescent of the Thunder Moon

    Sometimes coincidence says things that would have not occurred to me:

    Larry Harmon, longtime Bozo the Clown, dead at 83.

    Former Sen. Jesse Helms dies at age 86.

    Mulch goes down today.  Old leaves and grass clippings from last year stored in plastic bags.  Straw baled on a farm.  Organic matter that will blend into the soil, enrich it and give it better composition.  Before it does that, it will suppress weeds and keep the soil beneath it cooler, helping plants fight the extremes of summer heat.  An all purpose good deal, mulch.

    A columnist referred to the 4th as the happiest of holidays.  It has sparklers, band music, cookouts, fireworks and family gatherings.  As for me, a solid northern European intellectually, I find it a sober holiday.  Our government, at its least competent level in decades, has not made tiny, forgivable, do over mistakes; no, they have blundered on the world stage as well as the domestic.  They have tanked the economy, made citizens suspicious of Washington, politicized the judiciary and made WC Fields and Mark Twain look like optimistic boosters.  On the foreign affairs we have reversed and three upped Teddy Roosevelt.  Now we speak loudly and shoulder nuclear RPG’s.

    In light of this July 4th is, for me, a time to redouble my own efforts to bring down these clowns (apologies to Larry Harmon, mentioned earlier) and to change policy at the national, state and local levels.  My own focus now is the natural world, the world that can go along on its own without human interference, if it does not have human interference, that is.  In times past issues of war and peace, civil rights and economic justice were stage front in my political world.  They remain critically important, but I choose to pass that torch to another generation of activists.

    On a lighter note I look forward to charcoaled hamburgers, potato salad, corn on the cob and cold watermelon when Kate comes home.  We also have a cache of sparklers to set out in the yard and light.  Star spangledness will live on in our Andover backyard.

  • Will I Build A Computer?

    76  bar rises 29.76 6mph NW dew-point 51  Summer, pleasant and warm

    New Moon (Thunder Moon)

    A new head has been found for the red car.  Hopefully it will get placed on its automotive neck tomorrow and we will go back to two vehicles.  This is important with the rise of gas prices since our Tundra has a V-8 (may be an antique walking) whereas the Celica averaged 30-31 mph on the Alabama trip.  Co-ordination is not such a big deal for us, though that can matter.

    The computer has shut down on its own, without warning, twice already today. I bought the tools to crack the case, get inside and clean out the cooling fan, but I’ve hesitated due to a hyperactive June.  Now available time and increased urgency have moved closer to taking the step.  In the back of my mind, the fantasy part, I see myself building a computer from parts.  The tools I bought would serve that purpose as well.

    Ate lunch with Stefan at the Modern Cafe.  I had a lamburger and Stefan had a smorbord, pickled herring and beets.  Both were tasty.  We discussed his poetry and he feels I’m helping, so I’ll keep at it.

    He wants to start a support group for children of successful parents.   My hunch is it would be big hit.

    On the way home from the Modern (it’s in NE Minneapolis) I drove north of Anoka (really, west) to Anoka Feed and Seed where I picked up four bales of bedding straw.  I’ll use it to mulch the garden over the next few days.

    Now, a nap.

  • Descaping the Garlic

    76 bar steady 30.05  0mph NW  dew-point 46  Summer, hot

    Waning Crescent of the Flower Moon

    The heirloom tomatoes we have growing, started from seed inside, required more support.  They have sent out thick branches from the central stalk, already within a tomato cage.  As fruit develops on them, they will sag and break or their fruit will dangle on the soil, going rotten before we can pick them.  At the same time, a few daisies had decided on a straggly path toward the grass, so I put support around them, too.

    The garlic. Sigh.  I harvested four garlic plants yesterday.  They had not grown into large, juicy bulbs as I had imagined, but instead looked like large green onions, very large.  I read the culture instructions again.  I had forgotten to cut back the scapes, a curly stalk that shoots up from the center of the main stalk.  It carries the flower.  Allowing it to get much more than 10″ long discourages bulb production.  Makes sense.  If I’m gonna propogate by seed, why bother storing energy below the soil.

    In a belated attempt to make up for lost ground I descaped all the garlic and will let the remaining plants sit in the soil a while longer, though I suspect my fantasy of large garlic bulbs grown in my own garden will have to wait until next summer.   All of gardening is a constant experiment, learning this from the plant, then that from the soil, again the message of the sun, then the gentle language of rain.  Like intimate relationships gardening requires close listening and a willingness to admit when you have erred.

    My first visit to the MIA since May comes today when I go in for a refresher on the Africa galleries.  We have this one last check-out tour to give.  After it, we will be able to give tours of Africa only if requested.  I’m looking forward to getting back to the museum after a good time away.  No tours for me until September and I’m glad, still I miss the constant interaction with the art and the folks around the museum.

  • Garlic Harvest

    77 bar steady 29.93 5mph N dew-point 49  Summer, hot and sunny

                          Waning Crescent of the Flower Moon

    Wrote this AM.  Appended chapter 3 of Superior Wolf to its page on this website.  Next week I’ll take down chapter 1 and put chapter 4 and so it will go until I have written myself to the end.  We’ll see where it goes.

    Moved mulch, created by renting the super chipper from Home Depot and grinding up branches, tree trunks and chunks of shrubs.  The mulch goes on the perennial bed first, keeping the weeds down as we move into high summer and also cooling the soil just a bit.  This involves a wheel-barrow, a pitchfork and a lot of moving from one place to another.

    After a nap I unburdened the kitchen table of a couple of months of magazines, catalogues and desparate fund-raising pleas.  This involved a paper-sack, a lot of sorting and moving from one place to another.

    Now I’m gonna cook supper, red beans and rice with some prime rib left overs thrown to make it interesting.  The now standard fare of lettuce, onions and cilantro from our gardens inside and out will join store purchased tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for a colorful salad.  Later in the season we will have all of these ingredients. 

    I also learned from a piece of paper recovered from the literary overburden of the table that I can  harvest the garlic now.  Somehow garlic has become my favorite crop.  Don’t know why.

  • Where to Buy Japanese Gardening Tools? Home Depot!

    69  bar falls 29.56  5mph WNW dew-point 53   Summer, pleasant with fluffy cumulus gathering

    Last Quarter Flower Moon

    When in Hawai’i I noticed the Filipino gardeners at the Hyatt had small, sickle like tools.  One of them had a serrated edge down and a cutting edge up.  The other had a slightly curved blade and a very sharp edge facing down.  They used them to easily uproot weeds, edge grass and other plants.  I asked the guy where I could buy them, “Home Depot.”  Of course, where else?

    In fact, Home Depot did not have them, but Ace Hardware did.  It was your next guess was it not?  The ones I found were $8 and had a bamboo shaft.  When I packed them in my checked luggage, I felt like I might get stopped at security.  First, box cutters.  Now, Japanese gardening tools.

    Yesterday I discovered the the second of these tools was a whiz at cutting back perennials whose leaves had died back.  By putting the blade just into the soil and cutting back toward myself, the leaves came off with ease, leaving the bulbs in mother earth where they belong.  Today I finished the daffodils.  I have a lot of daffodils so their leaft behinds are voluminous.   Into the red plastic tub and then out to the discard pile.  The plastic tubs are also great gardening tools.  Cheap and capacious, they are also light and indestructible.

    Read an interesting article about Singapore in the Smithsonian magazine.  It says Singapore has become fun city.  Well, not quite.  But, compared to the authors first visit 37 years ago during r&r from Vietnam War coverage it was “Laissez bon temps roulez.” Bars in entertainment zones can stay open until dawn.  Theatre has begun to pop up and traveling musicians now include Singapore on their itinerary.

    When I visited in 2004, one of the things that amazed me was seeing women, unescorted, walking the streets well after midnight.  My hunch is that relaxation of the puritan, or rather, Confucian value system may endanger that.

    This “Asian values” idea, promoted by Singaporean political leaders, and rooted in Confucianism veers away from Master K’ung-fu-tzi in one very salient area.  In the Confucian world there was a distinct hierarchy of professions.  The emperor and courtiers, mandarins and nobles were at the top.  Then came landowners, farmers, woodcutters and fisherfolk.  After these, artisans.  At the very bottom, consigned to almost a pariah role, were merchants.  Merchants, Confucius believed, created nothing, adding nothing to the culture, rather they made money moving around the goods and food-stuffs created by the labor of others.

    Singapore, much of Southeast Asia and certainly Taiwan, Japan and China are, in that wise, far removed from the core values of Confucius.

    Off for a nap.  More gardening tomorrow morning.

  • Sad Movies Always Make Me Cry

    60  bar steady 29.59  0mph NNW dewpoint 59  Beltane, night

                  Waxing Crescent of the Flower Moon

    What a beauty.  This crescent moon, nearing the first quarter, has two stars above it, one low toward the horn and the other on a thirty degree angle further away.  Rain scrubbed the sky clean tonight, so they sparkle.  We only to look to the moon and the stars to find ample inspiration.  Do we need another layer, a human interpretation of the wonder we feel when we see the great star road?  I’m not so sure anymore.

    The list of movies I haven’t seen that others have a long time ago included Dances With Wolves until tonight.  Not many movies make me cry, but the closing scenes when Dances With Wolves and Stands With A Fist leave the winter village did.  Especially moving to me was Wind in the Hair crying from the cliff top, “Dances With Wolves, do you hear me?  Do you know that I will always be your friend?” 

    When the soldiers killed Dances With Wolves’ horse and then his wolf companion, I also cried.  The wolf’s loyalty and love repayed with death.  These two incidents capture so much of the casual violence that American culture legitmates.  Once again, I cringed at the harsh lessons of the frontier. 

    Weeding tomorrow.  Oh, boy.  Also, I get to do some chainsaw pruning.  We lost a main branch off one of our Amur Maples.  They have a tendency to fragility so it didn’t surprise me. 

  • Cast Out Your Doubts. Carpe Diem.

    68  bar steady  29.67  3mph NE  dew-point 56  Beltane, cloudy and warm

                   Waxing Crescent of the Flower Moon

    “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    A wise thought from our third  greatest president (after GW and Abe).  What we doubt we can do today will not happen tomorrow.  It may even fade from the horizon line of possibility altogether.  A terrible example is the 3/5’s compromise.  The generation which founded our country had many leaders who knew slavery was a burden too great for the Republic to bear.  Among them were Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  Too many, though, doubted a solution to slavery was possible at this time and so agreed to count 3/5’s of the slave population when it came to census figures determining congressional representation.  This doubt obscured slavery’s tragedy, a holocaust of freedom, in a nation founded on the principles of freedom and liberty for all.

    The payment for these doubts came due in 1861 with the Confederate shelling of Ft. Sumter in  Charleston, South Carolina’s harbor.  The next four years would exact a price in blood so high and a rent in the body politic so deep that this nation has not recovered.  The tragedy compounded during reconstruction as freed slaves became tenant farmers, sharecroppers in states with Jim Crow laws.  Lynchings.  The KKK.  Segregation.  Limited practical voting rights.  Employment discrimination. 

    Think how much further along our society would be in a movement toward a common culture, one shared by all Americans regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual preference or national origin if our founding fathers (yes, fathers) had set aside their doubts and made real the full promise of the American revolution.

    With Obama’s candidacy we may be ready for a third movement forward toward such a culture.  The Civil War was one.  The 1950’s and 1960’s were another with Brown vs. the Board of Education, the Civil Rights act and the struggles of Martin Luther King, the Black Panthers, the Black Muslims–especially Malcom X, CORE, the NAACP, SNICC and grass roots uprisings in many American cities.

    Take stock of the doubts you have today about what you may realize tomorrow.  They are the great barrier reef in your psyche between the ego’s fears and the manifestation of your full Self.       

    Some time outside this morning laying down weed preventer.  This is prologomena to a thorough weeding this week before I take off for Alabama.  A major focus this week will be helping Kate.  She’s going to be here with the dogs for 10 days, again, after 6 days last week.  Anything I can do now to make those days easier will be good.