onions and grapefruit

Fall gardening is a tricky proposition. In one sense it’s much easier than summer gardening – way fewer bugs, more temperate weather – code for not oppressively hot and humid – a wider, more interesting set of veggies to try. But in another sense, it’s more of a gamble. You have to fit it in between two unpredictable events – the end of hurricanes and a hard freeze. We can go years with neither a hurricane or a freeze but it is possible to have a hurricane in November and a freeze in November. More likely we have between mid October and mid December. Also because you’re dealing with shortened days, from a sunshine standpoint, crops that would normally take 50 days from plant to harvest, can take 70 days. So you just go into it knowing that there’s a possibility of a total wipeout and rationalize that the cost of the seeds is cheap. This year we were clear of storms after Faye dropped 1000 inches of rain in mid Sept and the ultra cold we’re getting in mid January. . So we had a good long season and harvested plenty of great veggies. I’ll cover up the most susceptible plants and just hope for modest damage to the hardier plants. Sure wish I could amp up this global warming thing – maybe I’ll just drive my gas guzzling F-150 around the garden a few times.

The other thing I’ve had to do in preparation for the pending freeze is strip the grapefruit trees. I’ve been picking these more or less one at a time and eating them within 5 minutes of picking. I pick one on the way to the boat so I can get my vitamin C while trolling in the lake getting my vitamin D from the sunlight. I guess you could even stretch it to say I’m trolling for omega 3 fatty acids in the form of speckled perch. But this was different and I reckoned that I still had about 4 bushels remaining between the pink and white trees. So I spent about half a day juicing – something Nancy and I usually do together but she’s on the cruise so……… I filled every juice container I could find – a couple gallons probably – and then put about 3 bushels in the shed for future distribution and juicing. So if anybody reading this and within range of the lake wants some grapefruit, I’ve got you covered.

If you look at the garden you’d think I was raising a crop of sheets. We’re in the midst of a 4 day stretch of uber cold so I bit the bullet and covered the whole thing. I had almost enough old sheets between my stash and George’s but fell short about 2 king sizes. Nancy’s on this cruise so………………… 100% coverage.

Actually I’m planning ahead now for the spring plantings. Seems early but we put out tomatoes and the like by the end of March which means you start them from seed indoors about mid February – a month from now. But what forced my planning cycle was a casual comment from Nancy last week as she perused the Publix ad. “Why don’t you grow onions. I use lots of them and the good ones are expensive.” I’ve grown garlic and scallions before in Utah but never real onions. My rationale was that they are too cheap to waste the garden space. I had roughly laid out a planting plan that used 100% of the space and did not include onions. So either I had to enlarge the garden or drop some other goody. The garden had a slight irregularity which has bothered me a little. Not enough to correct but not geometrically clean. If I corrected the flaw, it would at the same time add about 30 SF of garden space. More than enough for 100+ onions. Looked like a couple hours of work which subsequently turned into about double that. Then I break out the seed catalog to pick the variety I thought she’d like. I found out that there’s more to onions than meets the eye. Turns out that varieties are categorized by latitude. Some catalogs actually tell you that a particular variety is good between 38 and 42 degrees etc. Other catalogs separate them into long day, short day, and intermediate day onions. It seems that the amount of sunlight received is a big deal with onions. We happen to be in the short day zone although several intermediates will work here. Also turns out that you can buy seeds, or “sets”, or plants. In some cases a variety will be available in all three but most often one or the other. Seeds are the cheapest and take the longest to get to harvest; sets are small onions and more expensive but faster. I liked the sounds of that but they were not available in the varieties I had selected. Plants are the most expensive but produce the fastest. The other downside with plants is that you have to get them in the ground quickly after you receive them whereas with the seeds or sets, you can put them in at your leisure. Since I had just added the garden space, I could plant whenever the plants arrived so that was not a problem. So we’ll see. I’m in for 120 plants – sweet red, sweet white, and sweet yellow and according to the horticulturist at Park Seed, they’ll ship mid Feb. He said the exact date is zip code dependent. Glad he didn’t ask my exact latitude.

Politics – I’m wondering exactly what the deal is on Bill Richardson? Obama threw him under the bus without a bit of hesitation but he’s standing behind the Treasury guy who clearly is a tax evader and had an illegal in his employ. I seem to remember a couple of Clinton appointee’s who were crucified for similar offenses. So Richardson must have a real problem because he was one of the big names that early on dropped out and threw in with Obama instead of Hillary. I wondered at the time what he was offered to make that switch and was not surprised at all to hear about his appointment. But I’m guessing now that it was not an appointment he would have made without a prior deal so he cut him loose as soon as he could.

I’ve been ok with Obama so far but really question a couple of his appointments. Browner is a Socialist, no ambiguity there. After the crash of the Soviet Union, most Socialists and Communists took cover in the “green” movement. And Panetta for CIA Director. He’s been a political hack his entire career and shudder to think of him headiing up our spy programs. And Holder was the guy who pardoned Mark Rich who had been #2 on the FBI’s most wanted list for fraud and embezzelment. And oh, by the way, had been trading oil with Iran at the same time they were holding the American hostages and while trading was prohibited by virtue of a Carter embargo. Not to mention pardoning the Purerto Rican terrorists.These appointments have my stomach turning over. I’ve got a gut feeling that before this one is over we’re going to yearning for Guantanamo and a few water boards.

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