Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Seeds 2

So Saturday I went to my local garden center to see what seeds they had before I sent in my seed catalog order. And to my suprise, I was able to buy most everything I wanted. They carry Rohrer Seeds, from Smoketown, Lancaster County. And they also carry Burpee and The Cooks Garden (which was purchased by Burpee I think last year). Rohrer had a lot of heirloom varieties. I guess the demand for heirlooms is getting bigger all the time so most any seed company has to get with it to stay alive. So here is what I bought:

Swiss Chard "Bright Lights" I've never grown this. Any hints?
Beets "Detroit Red"
Brussel Sprouts "Long Island Improved"
Onions "Candy" I still want to order Cippolini onions though. They look good.
Sugar Snap peas
Snow peas "Melting" something (I'm doing this from memory)
Three kinds of beans: Yellow wax, a purple kind, and haricot verts
Podded peas "Spring"
Lettuce "Black seeded Simpson, Red sails, Buttercrunch, and Simpson elite
Spinach "Melody hybrid"
Squash "Turks Turban, Yellow Straight neck" and a zucchini one I can't remember
Dill "Mammoth"
Basil "Sweet Genovese"
Carrots "Nantes", I'll try harder this year to work with them
Gourds "Mini Mixed Ornamentals"
Melons "Charantais" and "Moon and Stars"
Cabbage - some red kind. Also never grown it. Any hints?
Scallions from the Cooks Garden

and a few flowers:
Scarlet Red Celosia or Cocks Comb
Tithonia or Mexican Sunflower I think
Grandpa Otts Morning Glory
a lovely little Marietta type marigold that is primarily red. Ordinarily I don't like marigolds, but I'll try them for their pest deterrance reputation.

I'm forgetting things here. I know I had a whole heaping brown bag of seeds and this isn't all of them. I need to buy a heat mat or two which they did not have at that store. I will probably order it. But I so want to get started. Yesterday is was 62 degrees here. Crazy for January. There are Daffodils coming up everywhere. My garlic that I planted last fall is also beginning to make an appearance. Woohoo!

On a sad note, last week we had our septic system cleaned (lovely) and there seems to have been a third tank which we did not know about. Unfortunately this third tank was located beneath a perennial garden that I put in the first year we were in the house. So I lost quite a few plants. I was able to save a few, but several Shasta Daisies and Rose Campion and Penstemon were gonners. That sucked. But it explains why things never grew really well right in the center of that bed (where the manhole is a little over a foot under the soil) and I won't spend a bunch of money on hollyhocks to put in ther center and wonder why they are dead by July like I have for the past three years. Oh well, live and learn.

We're screwed

I can't believe that they confirmed Alito. How could all those Senators not realize that installing him on the Supreme Court makes them irrelevant. The Court has now become a rubber stamp for whatever ridiculous rollback in civil liberties, env. regulation, constitutional rights King George feels like engaging in. We're in a war that will never end and he'll just keep claiming these ridiculous power grabs as legal during a time of war and even if enough people wake up and try to impeach him, the Supreme Court won't let it happen. Did you ever think about leaving? I'm starting to think about that more and more. I'm not sure where I would go, but I really see very dark days ahead (at least for the rest of my lifetime).

Friday, January 27, 2006

zero creativity week

Okay, I've been super busy this week and haven't had time to come up with anything interesting to say. So I stole a meme. Here it is.

A - Accent: Kind of a sing-songy, non-accent native to south-central PA. TV anchors train to talk like we do here. At least I think so.
B - Breakfast: piece of string cheese.
C - Chore you hate: cleaning out the litter box.
D - Dad's name: Charles.
E - Essential everyday item: bra.
F - Flavor ice cream: I don't like ice cream. I eat it maybe twice a year, so if I had to pick, Peanut Butter Ripple.
G - Gold or silver?: silver.
H - Hometown: Elizabethtown.
I - Insomnia: infrequent part of PMS, maybe three times a year.
J - Job title: Biologist
K - Kids: ZERO.
L - Living arrangements: Just right.
M - Mom's birthplace: she wasn't born, she hatched. Or maybe she just always was. Isn't that what they say about evil?
N - Number of significant others: two I suppose
O - Overnight hospital stays: Zero.
P - Phobia: spiders and flying
Q - Queer?: it makes no difference to me.
R - Religious affiliation: No thanks.
S- Siblings: one younger brother and one younger sister.
T - Time you wake up: on weekdays, between 6:30 and 7 a.m. On weekends, around 8.
U - unnatural haircolors you've worn: I've never worn an unnatural hair color.
V - vegetable you refuse to eat: eggplant.
W - worst habit: not listening.
X - x-rays you've had: dental ones, but that's it.
Y - yummy: cheese, pickles, beer, fruit, seafood, noodles (sounds like a casserole).
Z - zodiac sign: gemini

Monday, January 23, 2006

Meme Monday

I've been tagged by Judith since I read her responses to this meme.

Four jobs I've had

1. cardboard box maker (college summer, worst job ever)
2. babysitter
3. Deli/pizza person (also college)
4. Fake Christmas Present wrapper for Saks in Philly (seasonal fun)

Four movies I could watch over and over
1. Charade
2. Breakfast at Tiffany's
3. Breakfast Club
4. Cinema Paradiso

Four places I have lived (I don't get around much)
1. New York City (only for a semester)
2. West Chester, PA
3. Camp Hill, PA
4. Marietta, PA

Four favorite t.v. shows
1. The Daily Show
2. The Colbert Report
3. Law and Order SVU
4. House Hunters

Four places I've been on Vacation (again, don't get around much)
1. Smith Island, Maryland
2. Ocracoke, North Carolina
3. Naragansett, Rhode Island
4. Cape May, New Jersey

Four favorite foods
1. pimiento cheese
2. crab anything
3. peaches
4. asparagus (which I hated until I was 29 and am making up for lost time)

Four places I'd rather be right now
1. outside
2. home
3. at the beach, even if it is cold
4. Chester County Book Store

Four sites I visit daily
1. daily kos
2. eating for brooklyn
3. knit a garden
4. pocket farm

Four people to tag
1. I won't tag anyone, cause Judith already has done this and Liz I think did it before, so copy it if you want, but don't feel obliged.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Field day

What an awesome day. It was about 50 degrees F outside and sunny. I got to go look at two bridges today. Well, one bridge and one remnant. Rissers Mill Bridge was burned down in 2002 and was the last covered bridge in northwestern Lancaster County. It was arson and they never caught the bugger, but I sincerely hope that when this youngster (and it most likely was a teenage boy) matures and realizes the gravity of what he did, he feels like crap for the rest of his life. I certainly would. The picture at the top is whats left of the bridge. See the two stone supports? Weird place for a trampoline. The bridge will be replaced with another covered bridge, only updated to modern engineering standards. Pretty cool huh?

Above are a stone house and mill that were in the project area. The mill is practically abandoned. That makes me sad to see.
Here is my friend the bull. The only thing separating me from this fellow is a remarkably flimsy electric fence. Basically two wires attached to wildly leaning aluminum posts. Not much of a deterrent. He was friendly though. I scatched his nose for a long time.

Here he is vamping it up for the camera. He reminded me of Ferdinand. Remember that Disney character Ferdinand the Bull? All he needs is a daisy in his mouth. When I stopped scratching him, he didn't like that and made some scary bull noises and snorted a little. I looked down at the flimsy fence then and decided it was time to go.

Luckily his bull friend came running over then and distracted him by engaging in some 'bull play'. I sat in my car for awhile and watched them tussling around.

This goat also lived near the bridge. He badly wanted his nose scratched too but he was on a leash that didn't reach to the fence. He was very upset when he saw me scratching the bull. I felt sorry for the poor little guy. When I left his leash was all tangled around a tree. I thought about untangling him but that would involve going into his pen and I've seen too many movies where people got butted by ornery goats, so hopefully his people noticed his predicament and fixed it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


So it is that time....when I need to finally sit down and decide what I want and fill out the order forms. Here is a breakdown of the 2006 garden plan:

Plants I already have:
Bluberries, raspberries, black raspberries

Seeds I already have (saved from last year):
Tomatoes (Genovese, Brandywine, Amish Paste, Elbi)
Cucumbers (some heirloom pickling variety that I can't remember)
Pumpkins (Musquee de Provence, Long Island Cheese)
Squash (some yellow kind)

seeds from last year that I ordered and never grew:
Marconi Peppers

So, this year I need to buy seeds for:
Melons (thinking of Charantais (sp?) and Moon and Stars)
Beans (no idea. I've grown Kentucky Pole Beans and they are boring)
Beets (thinking of Detroit Red)
Lettuce (Black seeded simpson, red sails, Amish deer tongue and maybe something new)
Brussel Sprouts (no idea, never grew them)
Potatoes (no idea, never grew them)
peas (I usually do snow peas and sugar snap)
gourds (something decorative and maybe edible, but haven't chosen anything)
carrots (last year I tried Scarlet Nantes with little success. Need somethin new)
radishes (I am sick of French Breakfast)
Spinach (is there really any difference?)
Onions (never grew them)
And maybe Ground Cherries

So I need to know success stories or failure stories involving varieties I should stay away from. Any wonderful veggie pairings out there that I should know about? I had a hell of a time last year with cucumber beetles which attacked pumpkins, squash and of course cucumbers. So I need to move them this year, but not sure it will be far enough. I might invest in floating row covers to give my seedlings a head start. Has anyone used floating row covers? Let me know.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gore wears tinfoil too

Here is the text of his speech, given today at the Daughters of the American Revolution hall in D.C.. I feel a little better knowing that the ELECTED president in the 2000 election is thinking along the same lines as I am. There's a huge problem that's threatening our country and he's sitting in the White House. Not that this will get any media coverage. Left wing media bias my ass. They're all on the take too.

Winter has returned

Winter came back over the weekend. And as much as the mild temperatures were nice for mid-january, I was starting to worry about my fruit trees thinking that it was time to wake up. I think the white lilac got that idea and I might not get any blooms come 'real' spring. I didn't get sleep much Saturday night because of this return of winter. We had wind....oh my was it wind....all day Saturday, Saturday night, and most of Sunday. Sustained winds of 25 mph with gusts of 40 to 50 mph. There were branches down everywhere and I was really worried about trees coming down. We have a huge silver maple near the road that has been losing rather large limbs of late....we probably should have it cut down because I worry constantly that a huge limb will come down in the road at night and someone will be hurt or worse. Husband has the day off today and a good part of it will be spent picking up sticks in the yard.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show ended over the weekend. Even though I meant to go, the week just goes by so fast and I didn't make it again this year. It takes place in Harrisburg and is the largest agricultural event in the United States. It even has it's own complex that houses 25 acres under one roof. This was the Farm Shows 90th year. It is an event. When I was in high school, farm show attendance for farm kids was an excused absence. Kids showing animals have to sleep there near their animal pens. It's interesting to see all the animals and tons of other exhibitors, but the best part is the food. Every Board for every food produced/grown in Pennsylvania is there really showcasing their product. The best thing in the world are the baked potatoes (I think they bake them for days, because the potato just oozes out of the skin). A close second would be the fried mushrooms from the mushroom capitol of the world, Kennett Square, Pennsyvania. Will
definitely have to go next year. Here is a picture of this year's butter sculpture and last years. Thats 800 pounds of butter. I wonder what they do with all that butter after it is over?

Last years sculpture, which I like better, is shown here.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tin foil hat time

Okay, things are getting scary. Well they have been scary, but are getting scarier, which I didn't think possible. The Bush Administration just keeps raising the bar. And I'm getting more and more.....umm..paranoid. So yeterday there's this article about a little known provision added to the Patriot Act that categorizes protesters at political events as "disruptors" that can then be prosecuted. And the whole NSA thing with wiretapping and apparently today it's discovered that Bush authorized secret wiretaps before 9/11, in the beginning of 2001. WTF? And just the flagrant disregard for the rules. The Interior Department just opened up a huge swath of the Arctic for oil drilling. Land that was put into protection by James Watt for Christsakes. When Watt starts looking good from an environmental standpoint, you know you're living in Bizarroworld. And all that destruction for 80 days worth of oil. That's right....80 days. 2 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil divided by a 25 million barrel a day habit equals 80 days. That's heartbreaking.

What good is Congress if the President can just ignore what they say? Apparently we no longer live in a free republic but rather in a theocracy or oligarchy or whatever you want to call power being concentrated in the hands of a few with an overwhelming influence (control) by big business. I have a word for it. One exists, but you have to be careful to whom you say it. The whole combination of religious fervor and overwhelming, coerced patriotism, and the presence of an 'enemy' that can't really be defeated, and the potential for a never-ending war. It's called fascism. Not the jackbooted, swastika kind. The Mussolini kind. Mussolini also called it corporatism. Where big business and government become so enmeshed that you can't tell the difference anymore. The increased hatred for unions and regulations and the total screwing of the poor. The dissolvement of the middle class. And the giant land grab in New Orleans. Did you know that 10 years ago, 80% of the nations wealth was controlled by 10% of the population. Today, thanks to Bush's tax cuts, 1% control 70%. That's scary. There's just too much going wrong to keep track of it all. And so I try to go about my daily business. But it's getting harder and harder to ignore. Sinclair Lewis said that "when fascism comes to America, it will be draped in the flag and carrying the cross." And another quote I've seen is that fascism in America will be packaged as anti-fascism. I keep wanting to believe that things can't get really bad. Someone will step in and halt the unraveling of our country. The next election will change things, a democratic senate will change things, but I'm not so sure things can be changed at this point. I think they've got us. We're trapped.

In other news, something ate my Beauty berry that I planted last fall. It was a smallish size shrub, about three feet tall, but has now been nibbled down to about 6 inches. It couldn't have been a rabbit, could it? That's a big rabbit. I hope it comes back. The bush, not the rabbit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I laughed out loud when I saw this

The lobbying that dare not speak it's name.

sprinting towards stupidity

Okay, so last night I'm watching Country Boys on PBS. It was the second part of a three part miniseries on two young men (high school boys) in a poverty stricken town in Kentucky and what they do or don't do to escape the same fate as many of those around them. It's really good, two hours goes by like a flash, but some things really bother me. See, these two boys attend a school in their town for kids that dropped out or were kicked out of public school. The David School is for kids with behavioral issues or learning disabilities and does whatever it can to help these kids graduate. So on last nights episode, there is a scene from one of their science classes, where the teacher is talking about evolution....and how ridiculous it is. How Jesus wasn't an ape and then one kid raises his hand and says how his Lord wasn't a monkey and that we can't possibly know how man originated because we have no idea where MOLECULES COME FROM and the teacher says EXACTLY!!!!! No I know this is a school in Kentucky and the community isn't really even lower middle class, but come on. How is a teacher like this allowed to teach students anywhere? Even rowdy kids with learning disabilities? That isn't learning, it's reinforcing ignorance. No, it's creating ignorance. If you start with a blank slate and you write all kinds of crap on it, you're creating ignorance.

So then today my co-worker comes into my cube and says "Did you happen to see the article posted on the refrig. in the break room?" And I say "No, what was it". And she says " Well, it isn't there now, cause I ripped it down" and she hands it to me and it's about how environmentalists are trying to destroy the country by not getting behind drilling in ANWR. Like drilling in ANWR is going to solve all of our problems. Nevermind that oil companies own research suggests that were we to rely solely on that supply, it would last the country 6 months. Or that even a modest increase in fuel efficiency would save far more barrels of oil than we could recover from ANWR. The article was written by the guy that operates a website called JunkScience. On this website he refutes things such as the dangers of lead, asbestos, dioxins, second-hand smoke (he's a former employee of R.J. Reynolds), pesticides, hormones in food etc., and the existence of global warming. Now we aren't sure who taped up this article, but we are astounded that someone so completely ignorant is working among us, at an engineering and environmental firm yet.

I've asked this before, but when did it become admirable to be stupid? Think back to your history lessons and remember that our founding fathers placed great importance on learning. It was the enlightenment. They knew Latin and some knew Greek and they spoke French and they could play instruments and knew of the great philosophers and used that knowledge to craft our founding documents. Thomas Jefferson loved gardening and cooking and architecture. Ben Franklin was curious about everything. These people were brilliant or at least strove to be brilliant. And it's all going away. Now educated people are refered to as elitist and are to be reviled. 30 years of cuts in education spending have taken their toll and we have a great populace that is suspicious of anyone that understands algebra. And the divide just keeps on growing. And nothing is being done. Just keep your eye on Nick and Jessica.

Greg Palast has a great column on No Child Left Behind with some sample questions from the actual test....that 8 year olds take. They are sports questions. This made me very sad. It sucks to watch your country circle the bowl right before your very eyes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Is 35 too early for a mid-life crisis?

I'm not sure if it's my age or what. Maybe it's that I've never lived in the same place this long while being with the same person and pretty much having the same routine. I feel like if there were paint on the soles of my shoes and the tires of my car, and it marked where I went everyday.... it would look like I don't deviate too much. There would be a track back and forth from work, perhaps the odd offshoot, and my footprints would form a messy little track through the house and the yard, pretty much showing me doing the same things...everyday. It's as if every year is becoming the same. I think it started to bother me last year, when we drove to vacation, it dawned on both of us that we probably say the exact same things to each other at the exact same places at the exact same time every year. For example...every year, in Virginia, as we are about to go across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, my husband asks me how long it is, and I say '17 miles', and then he asks 'how many tunnels', and I say 'two', and then I tell him how many people died while building it (110) and then we both say 'we said this same thing last year'. While I was putting away Christmas Decorations this year, I got the same feeling. I do the same thing every year, in the same order. And maybe since time seems to be going faster, it really seems like it was just yesterday that I was doing this exact same thing. I need to get out more. Shake things up. Start using my left hand or something cause everything just seems the same. I shouldn't complain I suppose. There are probably lots of people that simply aspire to routine because their lives are so unpredicatable and they don't know where they are sleeping next or where their next meal is coming from. But still, I need a change.

Bulb alert

So it happened this morning. Out with the dogs on an unusually mild January morning, scanning the ground in beds and under trees for a sign, any sign that spring was right around the corner.

My little brown fuzzy buddy led me to it. Actually he urinated on it, but I never would have seen it otherwise. There, along the side of the garage, were an entire row of tips of fall crocus (Colchicum) leaves. I know, I said fall. You see the fall crocus sends up leaves in the spring which die back mid-summer. It then sends up large, purple, leafless blooms in September. There they were though, approx. two inches above the ground. My heart skipped and I laughed out loud and I've felt really good the whole day. Spring is just around the corner.

Monday, January 09, 2006

what flower am I?

You Are A Lily
You are a nurturer and all around natural therapist.People see you as their rock. And they are able to depend on you.You are a soothing influence. You can make people feel better with a few words.Your caring has more of an impact than even you realize.
What Flower Are You?

Design challenge

Okay you creative types, help me solve a problem. I have this room that I want to tackle over the winter and I don't know what to do with it. Picture if you will....

My house is shaped like an 'L'. This room is in the corner of the 'L'. It was the original living room for the original farmhouse. This room is approximately 12 by 20, with two windows and a front door on it's south side, one window and the stairs on the west side, a door to the family room on the east side, and a door to the kitchen/dining room/den on the north side. It currently houses two dog crates (soon to be put away), a rocking chair, some plants, and a table with a phone. It basically functions as a giant hallway. We don't spend time there, we just pass through. But it is ugly. I have to take off some hideous wallpaper and hope to lighten things up with paint in creams and whites with maybe some beadboard. But what do I use it for? What is it's identity? What can I put in there that would look nice. Plants won't survive unless they are directly against the windows. Anyway, think about it cause I am truly at a loss. We really don't need another seating area, but I just don't know what to do with it.

It is disturbingly warm today. When I took the dogs out this morning, there was mud everywhere. I don't like it when there is mud everywhere and I expect that to be limited to a few weeks in early April. My lab mix was feeling super giddy this morning. I think she thinks it's spring. She hates cold. Yesterday when I was taking down the outside decorations, I had them on their leashes in the yard. She was staring at me the whole time, burning holes into me with her little brown eyes, and whenever I looked back at her, she visibly shivered. Mind you, it was mid-40s yesterday and I was outside in a sweatshirt. Not cold enough for a dog to freeze. I think the shivering was fake. The golden/chow mix loves being cold and is a little disturbed at the lack of snow. We have had only one good one as far as he is concerned. A 'good' snow is one where he can bury his nose and face, up to his eyes, in the snow and run, thereby becoming a 'dog plow' of sorts. He can do this for hours if you let him, taking only short breaks to eat snow.

Anyway, no bulbs seen protruding from the great expanse of mud that is my yard. I thought I'd see a little bit of snowdrops coming forth, but nothing yet. The buds on the pussy willow are fat though, and as no deer have meandered through the yard recently, they may stay fat till late winter and I'll be rewarded with armfuls of pussy willow.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Books to be read

I am just finishing up Michael Pollan's Second Nature, A Gardener's Education. Very good read. One of those you really want to savor but seem to inhale in two sittings. There were lots of gardening books referenced in this tome that I had never heard of. So after a little searching, I found that Mr. Pollan in addition to his work with the New York Times Magazine, is also a contributing editor to The Modern Library, an arm of Random House. The Modern Libary has sought out and re-released these classic gardening books from years past. Some from not so long ago and some from really long ago. Looks like my dance card is full till Spring.

Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi

My Summer in a Garden by Charles Dudley Warner

The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek

We Made a Garden by Margery Fish

Don't you just love the retro cover art. Also check out: The Gardener's Bed Book by Richardson Wright (a series of short essays about gardening perfect to read before going to sleep) and The American Gardener (out of print since 1856). Interesting to see what gardening was all about in those days. I love reading about gardening a long time ago. My grandfather has all sorts of clippings that he saved from various sources, back issues of organic gardening from the 50's and 60's. Tons of back issues of, I think, a magazine called Horticulture, that I just love. There are advertisements in the back of that magazine selling Multiflora Rose, touting it as the solution to so many problems. Oh, if they only knew what they had unleashed. I could make a killing copying those ads, making t-shirts and selling them to wetland scientists. Multiflora Rose is the bane of our existence.

Bulb patrol has not reavealed an aconite or snowdrops yet, but the hellebores is really showing some new growth. And have you noticed the increase in day length? It's subtle, but it's getting lighter longer. Only a short time til we can start seedlings. Woohoo. Happy garden reading!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

To do list for 2006

Here are some things I'd like to get done, or at least do more of, in 2006

1. Lose weight (duh)
2. bake more bread (which really isn't conducive to #1)
3. really concentrate on eating local (could help with #1, especially the next few months)
4. plant more trees. Not namby-pamby ornamentals, but the big guys....Oaks, Hickories, Beeches, Sycamores, etc. Who plants these anymore? I may even plant some in other people's yards (with their permission). I want to be a one-woman legacy planting machine.....Somebody gimme some seedlings!
5. consume less, re-use more
6. become more politically active
7. have a really good garden and grow stuff I haven't before
8. Plant some really old roses
9. Enter a ton of categories in the Elizabethtown Fair this year
10. Live in the moment more. I am always looking forward to the next thing and not really living the now thing. Particularly in terms of seasons. I have a whole new outlook on winter because of this Thoreau quote (and dude knew some cold winters) "Live in each season as it passes. Breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influences of each."
11. Reconnect to people I've lost along the way. 2005 saw some really good friends 'found' and even some long-lost dear family members contacted, so hopefully this trend will continue.