Farmers have been in the news in recent weeks. The focus of these articles are the larger concerns where the crops are planted in the hundreds (and thousands) of acres and animals number higher.
Today’s topic concerns another sort of farmer. You’ll see him now as spring moves north. (At least I hope spring arrives soon.)
You see the press urging you to buy local. Buy fresh. This is your man. The people tending a booth at your local Farmer’s Market.
Here you find a mix of fruits and vegetables (sometimes meat and cheese) shipped in from other areas of the country and those locally grown.
If my thumb was green enough. If my yard measured in acres instead of square feet. If I had the ambition to tend and water and pick and sell.
Farmer Joe is ready for the season!
Autumn. Fall. Harvest. A time to gather together the bounty of the earth and store it for the bleak winter to come.
Growing up on a farm, this was one of the busiest times of the year. The oats were threshed (later combined), a final crop of hay gathered, and then the corn. These days there’s a soybean harvest also. Long, busy days full of dust and noise and satisfaction.
The final vegetables from the garden were picked. Or dug. Some ended up preserved in jars. Some, like potatoes or squash, in a wooden box to story in a cool, dry, dark place. Onions were pulled, the long tops braided together and hung on a nail in a cool, dry place.
It’s different when living in the city. Items we considered useful but messy are used for decoration. Cornstalks at the grocery store? One straw bale set out where the weather could attack from all sides?
An elegant, colorful, seasonal display.
My thumbs are pale, pale green. This is especially true with my attempts at a vegetable garden.
Now don’t get me wrong. Aside from a possible drowning if we get too much spring rain, the plants start out great. My tomato plants are both tall and bushy. One eggplant reached for the sky and challenges my own height.
The problem is thieves. In gray coats (some may be brown). They arrive when I’m not watching and steal the produce before it is ripe. Do green tomatoes have a nutrient lacking in the normal squirrel diet?
So far, these have survived. My friends the rabbits – in league with the squirrels – have not dined on the tops. My hope is that when I dig these up in the next couple of weeks I’ll have enough carrot to roast with some meat.
Considering a switch to all root crops next year. Suggestions?
Posted in Blog
Soft things. Tiny things. Delicate things.
When handed one of the above the natural reaction is to cradle it gently in your hand. You want to be kind. Avoid doing damage.
Consider a bird nest for a moment. They are designed to hold and protect soft, tiny, delicate birds. And while they vary in size, location, and building material, all of the parents are following instinct to do the best for the next generation.
The glass artist has captured the spirit of the nest in the shape of the glass as well as in the careful position in the tree.
Ready for the blue glass birds to move in.
Posted in Blog
Tagged Art, Garden
One day when I was a young teen, and unacquainted with the title of this piece, I went to the neighbor’s woods.
These woods were close. From our property I crossed one road and one field. Then I was in a patch of woods which included a pond. In the winter I ice skated here. It was a great place to let the imagination fly.
This particular day was in the fall. I’m not certain, but I think I was looking for a frog to take to school. No frogs as I walked all the way around the pond.
But on the way home. Still in the woods, I saw a tree branch hosting hundreds, actually thousands, of Monarch butterflies taking a rest during their migration.
Recently I attended an exhibit at our botanical garden featuring glass sculptures. The artist captured my experience.
We all have our favorite colors. And often they are the ones which look best on us. Perhaps they bring emphasis to eye color. Or compliment a skin tone. And once in a while — they’re just cheerful and fun.
But what if you like a color that does not flatter? Perhaps confine it to an accessory? Or use it around the home. Pick that red you love for an accent pillow. Or a few dishes. Or a piece of artwork.
I like green. And it is one of three or four colors which flatter. But it’s not popular. At least not in the bargain stores where I shop. So I have a few things. And then I fill the house with plants in the winter.
New addition this year. A gift from a relative. In a beautiful green skirt.
One of my favorite places to visit in St. Louis is the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Often an afternoon excursion to this refreshing place is a reward for meeting writing goals. It took several attempts and a few “dead ends” to find a reward without calories.
The Garden contains several different sections, featuring plants and plantings typical of different areas of the world or historical times. Often this blog will feature either a particular plant or a piece of public sculpture (permanent or temporary) present on a visit.
But the Garden is home to more. Bees, butterflies, and dragonflies dart between blossoms. Birds and squirrels and other small animals seek shelter within the fenced grounds. And fish thrive in the lake dominating the Japanese garden. And they need to share the lake with these residents.
This basking red-eared slider posed with a dragonfly. He and his friends entertain both young and old.
Posted in Blog
Tagged animals, Garden
Yes, you read the title correctly.
Recently I visited a tourist site as part of a day trip with an out-of-state guest. So I’m not sure if I caught the words correctly. So this may be a recommendation or it may have been a requirement. Either way, gardens were part of life for the early settlers in Missouri. So when the German immigrants arrived after several years in an Eastern city, it was natural that part of the association “rules” would include each family to have a garden.
The surprising part to me was not the idea of a garden. It was the specific amount of a specific crop. In addition to the usual beets, carrots, and potatoes, this group requested one hundred heads of cabbage be grown for each member of the household.
No — they were not going to sell coleslaw to their American neighbors. These were Germans. The great majority of the cabbage would be shredded, salted, and fermented into sauerkraut. The people who organized the immigration society determined that this was the amount of cabbage which needed to be grown to sustain a person through the winter and early spring until the garden was producing fresh vegetables again.
A demonstration garden of the German immigrants. The actual garden would have been larger, with more of these defined square planted areas. And several of them would have been row upon row of cabbage plants. Their primary source of several essential vitamins.
Posted in Blog
Tagged Garden, History
With a little imagination and humor, you can find them all on my plant stand.
From the left: spider, cabbage, rubber.
Yes, spring has arrived and will soon turn into summer. So I’m enjoying this brief time when the windows can be open, no jacket necessary to step outside, and the houseplants get put into summer quarters.
Unless the little critters – real animals – enjoy digging in the soft potting soil too much, I expect in several months, when warm temperatures turn cool, these will be larger. And then the decisions about which plant to put where in my limited window space will begin all over again.
Don’t like the first trio? Try the second.
Yes, I’m aware the animal is fake. But getting a chipmunk to sit in place is beyond my patience.
Posted in Blog
Not all invasions are negative.
Consider a patch of earth behind my building where “stump killer” was spilled. It’s powerful stuff. I’m not sure it killed the stump the person intended — but it killed all green and growing things in a several yard radius.
Mother Nature is tough. Leave her alone (or grant a little encouragement) and she can heal a multitude of wounds.
When the English ivy and another ground cover invaded — I smiled. We had plants. With roots which would at least slow down the erosion of the bare dirt.
I’m encouraging another invasion in my front flower bed. My favorite shade loving blossom is lily-of-the-valley. A co-worker gave me a few starter plants. Then several years later, a neighbor gifted me some lamb’s ears. They are advancing on each other.
Approaching plant battle?