Monday, October 20, 2014

back on the post horse

This morning on the way to work Skrillex's "Breakin' a Sweat" came on my phone and it was this moment of "yep, that's my life": taking transit to work, knitting, listening to a dubstep riff on Jim Morrison. I don't know. Something about the collision of disparate elements there.

I'm going to try to get back in the habit of posting here, on the theory that doing so will help me stay motivated to keep doing the actual things that get posted about. So here we are in the second half of October: I need to pull out my last tomato plants now that the wet is setting in, and bring in their unripe fruit to ripen in a paper bag. The fig tree is having its second crop after all, which I'd worried wouldn't ripen, so we need to harvest those also and figure out what to do with them. The south-end bed has purple barley and fava beans growing on one side, both of which are thriving, and garlic planted on the other, which is starting to sprout. I botched getting my early seedlings started for winter veggies, but a few of the kale might make it, and maybe I'll cave and buy a packet of starts from somewhere. Fortunately the chard from last winter appears not to have gotten the memo that it's an annual, and after I cut down the flowering stalks this summer the roots started sending up new leafy growth. So we can keep eating that for a while.

The corn-and-beans patch this summer was an absolute bust, and I suspect the culprit was just plain old low-quality dirt; that was a spot that had been lawn previously. Yesterday I dug the top shovelful under, with the plant matter intact, so it can rot under there over the winter (I did spot a couple of nice big earthworms, so at least I have a little help on this front). I'm going to add more actual finished compost and plant it over in a cover crop, probably field peas, for the winter.

I might do the same thing down front where the daylilies kind of got a hold but the pumpkins did nothing of substance; there, also, I'm dealing with recently ex-lawn. Generally I probably need to remember to be less impatient about getting things into the dirt in places that aren't ready -- spend an extra day on soil amendment and avoid wasting a whole season, self.

I did make a small order from Raintree before the winter set in, to get things into the ground and let them establish roots now, so they're ready to get going in the spring. I have a Camellia sinensis, better known as tea, and a King James mulberry, named after the fellow who planted the tree's progenitor in London a few hundred years ago (the original tree died in the Blitz, but enterprising horticulturalists managed to propagate enough shoots to keep its lineage going). #plantnerd

Another day, another chore. Tonight I need to clean out my kombucha operation and see if the poor mother is still in good enough shape to start a fresh batch. Also maybe see about taking samples for a soil test, if the ground isn't soaked (hah).


  1. A second crop of figs on the West coast? I hope they do ripen, that'd be awesome. The corn might well have needed more fertilizer - was it planted in a block, or a row? Block planting ups the chance of pollination, especially if there aren't a ton of plants. Your ex-lawn will probably end up doing well since there's a lot of good soil on and around grass roots. If you want to prep some area for the spring you could put down cardboard or newspapers where you want the plots to be, and let the grass underneath decompose over the winter. I've always wanted to try it but never had a lawn I was allowed to destroy. Someday, though. It's on the list.

    How does homebrew kombucha turn out? I've tried samples from some folks, but I'm not sure how it's supposed to taste. They were using tea as a base, I think. The idea of a homemade, slightly-fizzy drink is awesome, but I don't want to end up with (another) jar of decaying something-or-other that didn't work out...

    1. We're getting at least some of them! Part of the second crop will shrivel into nothing instead of filling out completely, but there are enough plumping up that we'll be able to make things with them, and the crows yell about it when the rain lets up enough for them to hang around.

      Yeah, sweet black tea is what the kombucha organisms eat. The taste varies depending on how quickly you pull the brew off the mother, but it's sort of along the general lines of cider vinegar - a little sweet, a good bit of tang. If you want it sweeter/differently flavored, you can secondary ferment it in the fridge with a little crushed fruit in the bottle, but I haven't tried that yet. (also, turned out my existing mother was in great shape, and she's now working on her next batch.)

  2. Hi! I came by to return the blog visit and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on mine. I'm one who finds that saying online that I'm going to do something, usually motivates me to follow-up!

    I think I read somewhere that chard would like to be perennial if given the opportunity. Looks like you've done that. :)

    1. Hah, yes! You become accountable once you tell somebody about it, even on the internet. And that's great to hear about the chard! The bases of the plants are really thick and sturdy, and seem to be well-rooted, so I'll try not to put too much pressure on them over the winter and see if they keep on sticking around. Yum. :)