more garden drivel

I’m surprised I’m getting anything at all out of the garden this season. For almost two months we’ve been alternating between cold and colder with too many rainy days thrown into the mix. Our typical winter is mostly sunny and cool – where cool means mid 70’s. Yes, it occasionally freezes, maybe once or twice a winter but it passes quickly. This winter seems more like a Vancouver summer. Since December, I think the garden has spent more time covered than not. The cover has 86% light transmissivity so the plants get sufficient sunlight. One bit of irony is that if the fern growers hadn’t dramatically pulled the lake down a month or so ago, we would be swamped from all the rain and I’d be facing root rot in the garden. That’s a summer problem, not a winter problem. Now I’m getting just a twinge of concern that we’ll head into the wet season with too much water already. It’s tough being a farmer.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had planted some potatoes as an experiment. I read today that I might have screwed up and put them in upside down. You know when you see a root growing out of a potato you pull out of the bag – guess what, that’s not a root. That must be the stem and should be planted up. duhhhhhhh. I’m just hoping that the spuds are smart enough to realize they’re upside down and do a 180 before they get too deep. This same article mentioned that they will take 3-5 weeks before the foliage emerges. I’m approaching the 4 week mark and not seeing a sign of green. It also mentioned that it was a bad idea to use grocery store potatoes for the seeds. Whatever. If even one survives it will tell me if the nematodes like potatoes which is my over riding concern.

You can call me an optimist but I just planted the seeds for tomatoes and peppers. I start them in the house with a plan to move them to the garden in mid March. I’m still experimenting and started 6 different varieties of tomatoes. Except for one variety, all are supposed to be nematode resistant. If all goes well, I’ll end up with 3 of each variety; two of which I’ll transplant to the garden and one that I hold back as a spare in case garden critters nail one. The one that isn’t nematode resistant was developed by the University of Florida specifically for Florida’s hot, humid summers. I couldn’t resist trying that. Another variety that I have high hope for is called Super San Marzano. If you’re an Italian food cook, you’ll recognize San Marzano as the tomato to use for sauce. The Super version adds nematode resistance. The only caution I have is that it’s a 90 day variety which is really a long time for anything to survive here. I’m trying one variety that boasts a 58 day maturity. My hope is that I can be picking tomatoes before the green caterpillars find out it’s munch time. I’m settled on a variety of green pepper called Declaration and a variety of Jalapeno called Telica. They’ve been consistently hardy and great producers so why mess with success. Plus I had seed left over from last season.

Nancy has a friend in her quilt group who raises free range chickens. She’s from Trinidad and I guess it’s just something people from Trinidad do. She gets lots more eggs than she needs so occasionally she brings in eggs for the ladies in the group. Interesting thing is that these are not regular looking eggs like you get at the grocery store. Nancy had told me the eggs were all brown eggs and since I’m familiar with brown eggs, that didn’t stir my interest – yeah, ok they’re brown eggs. Yesterday she asked me to put them away and I learned that they are not brown eggs in the classic sense. They’re small eggs but the brown is really a cocoa color and in addition, there are peach colored eggs, light green, light blue and some other pastels that defy a hard color label. We’ve been eating these eggs for months but I never actually looked at them except over easy on the plate. If I were still in the fly tying business, I’d for sure want to check out these birds on the hoof. You have to know there are some exotic feathers involved. Wonder what she does with the chicken droppings?

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