Well, the time off from the garden has ended. We finished last year’s in early November, and with the arrival of the seed packets recently, the game is again afoot. The seed trays and potting soil have been sterilized and set out for this year’s garden.
It is early in the season yet, being winter and all. However with row covers, it won’t be long at all before we can sow lettuces, peas and more outside. Meantime, the “spare bedroom” has become the seed nursery again.
In a review of the seed collection we have, it seems that this year will be a year for cabbage. Our stock seed was getting a little too old (germination rate drops the older it gets), so it’s time to plant the old and place the new into stock.
Today we planted four trays of cabbage; two green species and a red.
I”ve mentioned my intention to re-invent the herb garden, and that process begins with two trays of chive seeds and half a tray of dill seed.
Soon I’ll plant parsley, yarrow and stevia outside in the new perennial garden location.
But not yet. Not quite yet.
Once the ground temperature reaches 40 degrees though, the rules of the game change. I can harvest the winter carrots, the horseradish, the winter garlic. I can start dividing and transplanting the herbs that need moved – Lemon balm, thyme, oregano, lavender.
But for now, we have to keep our planting reined in – don’t want to get too far ahead. Cabbage, chives and dill…
That’s a good start.
“Spent hours in the sun in the garden plot, clearing out the what-ifs, if-onlys, weeds & tomato stakes of 2011 – reviewing the waste of seed, space, energy & time… After last year’s great garden failure, I didn’t know if I’d be trying again. But I will. Why? Because in the end, I need that time in the sun in the garden plot.”
Since I hope to revive my blogging by writing about our garden this year, I suppose the above recent facebook post is a good a way to start as any. I finished the garden season last year defeated, with no harvest to speak of since spring leaf lettuce, and minimal amounts of canning done only due to the generosity of other successful gardeners.
I can sincerely say that our third-year garden, for which I had the highest hopes, was a complete waste from the moment the leaf lettuce bolted. Saddled with a fledgling business, Frank’s ailing father, an early spring break away for me to help my mother — all could have been worked around , maybe.
Then came the wind storm. It flattened tomato stakes and bean poles. During the repair work, we discovered another problem, one which we did not diagnose soon enough — stink bugs.
Within a small amount of time, the battle was lost. The new rototiller sat quiet, beneath a wash tub cover. In August, Frank’s father’s health took a down turn, and by September when he died, we had long given up on the garden. If there ever were any edible peppers among the tall grasses, the deer ate them.
I often found my groove in the garden in my past years, but not last year. Heading into this past winter, I had no thoughts or desires for a garden. Time previously spent canning or drying and saving seed for the future was time spent — with other thoughts. Past dreams to be a regular vendor at the farmer’s market were quiet and faded, seed trays and gardening tools were tossed haphazardly into the outbuilding some time in late November before the holidays.
But in January, the days were unseasonably warm, and when the seed catalog came, I half-heartedly paged through. But it sparked….. something. And the next unseasonably warm day, when I went out to feed the hens, I wandered on inside the garden’s fence. Tomato stakes teetered askew, mammoth sunflower stalks bent over, picked empty by the local birds. Tall grasses had flourished and gone to seed, fallen over under snow, and now matted the entire garden floor.
It was a sorry, sorry sight.
And while Daisy sniffed among the matted grass for ground moles and field mice, I began clearing stakes and strings and cages. While I hope to have a great garden and grand harvest this year, as we have known in the past, I have also come to realize — a gardener gardens to garden. We do it to dig in the soil, to smell the earth, to soak the sun, to work our muscles, to clear our minds.
The harvest is not the only reward.
If you are an idiot like me, and handle hot peppers without gloves, you deserve what you get for ignoring the warnings. You’ve just immersed your hands in mace. Yup, that’s right. Police Mace is made from capsaicin oil, which is extracted from…
By the time you begin to feel the burn, the damage is done. Unless you want to extend and multiply your levels of pain over the next 24-48 hours, (by say, rubbing your nose, or scratching your eye, or Guys, going to the bathroom…) you need to IMMEDIATELY stop what you’re doing, and go through the following measures.
1. Dip your hands quickly in ice cold water, then put them in cold Vinegar, which should be handy, if you’re canning. Rub in it. You need to break down the oil in your skin.
If you don’t have vinegar, try lemon juice. If you don’t have lemon juice, then just go from the water to step two.
Do NOT use bleach. It’ll make it worse.
2. Rub your hands with salt. When the vinegar breaks down the capsaicin oil, it turns it into salt. A salt rub, or saltwater paste will help pull the burn from your skin. If you don’t have salt, use baking soda. If you have both salt and baking soda, use both! Following the salt rub, move on to step three.
3. Soak your hands in milk. If you don’t have milk, use sour cream. If you don’t have those, use yogurt. Again, rub. Rub, rub, rub. Soak at least two minutes. Dairy also helps break down the oil.
After a two-minute soak, repeat step two, then go to step four.
If you don’t have milk, go to step 4.
4. Soak your hands in vegetable oil. Capsaicin oil can also be broken down by fat. Rub the oil into your skin, as much rubbing as you can stand for two minutes.
Rinse well with cold water, repeat step two, then go to step five.
5. By this time, you have likely removed all the capsaicin oil from your skin that you’re going to. The burn you’re feeling now is the burn you’re going to feel for the next 24-48 hours. You need to make a cool soak for your hands over the next few hours, and you need to keep your hands away from heat – hot water, warm coffee cups, activities like cooking, holding/shaking hands, etc.
There are three main options for a soak: vinegar, milk, or a baking soda and water mix. My suggestion is for the vinegar. Fill a bowl with vinegar and ice, and soak. No need to rub anymore, this is mostly for comfort purposes now. Put your hands in the vinegar, the burn will stop. Take them out? It will likely return.
When the vinegar warms (and it will) add more ice. Basically, keep soaking until bed time, and you might be able to sleep.
Still burning at bed time? Fill freezer bags with ice, and take them to bed to hold in your hands.
When you wake, the burning should be gone – but keep in mind – hot water, warm drinks, any kind of heat could reignite the burn.
Always, always wear gloves when working with hot peppers. If you are desperate to work with peppers and don’t have gloves, run your hands in crisco or vegetable oil first – and have the vinegar and salt ready.
In my opinion, it took Fay a long time to get here. All that water she dumped on Florida? Boy, we sure needed it here.
Leaves on the trees were beginning to turn, and flowers began to take on that “yellow” look. Plants in pots that I forgot to water? They’re nearly dead, if not dead already.
The rain came in about 3 a.m. this morning. I know, because I was having one of those nights when I don’t sleep. Not an “I’m not tired yet and not ready to go to bed” nights, but one of those “I’ve been in bed twice and just can’t fall asleep” nights.
The first time I got up, I sat and read the Avon reference guide, which I thought might lull my mind. But, it didn’t. The second time I got up, I just started working on editing and layout of the October issue — before the September issue is even all distributed.
I’ve been known to paint or hyper-clean an entire room on these nights, but last night, I wanted to really just stay near the bed, just in case my brain decided to switch off.
The minute the rain started, I was dog tired and ready to sleep.
This morning, the rain still falls, and I have chosen today as the delivery week day I stay home by myself while Frank makes a delivery run. This is the day I clean off my desk, run the sweeper, do some laundry and do the month’s backed up book keeping.
But this morning, I’m going to start the day with coffee, on the back porch, overlooking the lake, watching it rain.
Obviously, since I’m writing this, Frank and I did not go camping as planned. Instead, we put in a vegetable garden this week, and are doing vehicle repairs this weekend. Sigh… Still, it looks a little wet for camping to me, but Frank will camp in any weather.
I will be getting a day trip in next week however, when I drive five hours East to pick up my Mother halfway home from my niece’s house. Five hours to get her, five hours to get her home, and another hour and a half to get me home… Oh well, it is Mother’s Day after all.
This is the first time in a long time that I’ve had my own veggie garden, and I admit, I am both excited and proud about it. I don’t know if I’ll have any luck with the venture — but I do know we’re going to have lots and lots of peppers. After we got the ground plowed, disked and ready — Frank and I both bought plants wherever we went. Not being together on these trips, and not coordinating with each other, we did get too much of some good things. If you like peppers — any kind of peppers — see us this fall. Still, I’m trying some new things this year — lettuce and carrots from seed, peas, onion sets. I’m doubtful about any success with the carrots or peas, but I do think there will be some measure of produce from the lettuce and onions…. A pound of onion sets should go a long way…
Mostly, I would say we have a salsa and relish garden. (Although I hope, this year, to share with all of you some of my hot pepper jelly!)