Sunday, August 31, 2008
Tonight I'm thinking about my family and friends in Texas and Louisianna while we wait to see the outcome of Hurricane Gustav. I have been checking all day and talking to my mother who is family message relay central. She has gotten 2 households ready for this hurricane and has the worry of my brothers and their extended families all along the Gulf Coast and East Texas. My parents live on the river so we know what storms can do. They are as prepared as they can be and she and my aunt have my grandparents home ready as well. They also have bug out bags ready if the storm turns so they can ride it out with my Grandparents. Tonight my Grandmother wanted to know why I didn't write a story about the broccoli. So Grandmother, here is your story...
This is the first time we've ever grown broccoli. Several people told us they heard you couldn't grow big heads here. We figured we'd at least get something from it and love it, so in it went.
We grew it organically and without blood or bone meal. It was pretty easy to grow actually. I did direct sow in the garden since there was limited shelf space for starter plants. There were some Japanese Beetles, but they are easy to pick off and spot. Jeffrey is also grand champion of spotting worms curled under leaves. So with little organic bug control, we are eating pretty well out of the small garden here at the house. We did recently buy Rotenone dust for the garden at crooked creek to help with a pest problem for the Cabbage there, but it is organic.
The beautiful 3 year old compost from dear friends, good amount of rain this season and frequent bug checking were probably the key reasons. The garden had full sun about 6 hours and was shaded during the late after noon heat. Certain vegetables seem to be thriving in these conditions, like the broccoli and tomatoes. The peppers are small and carrot tops are relatively few and small though. We had row covers on the carrots and there were a lot more carrot tops in that bed the last time we checked. I thought the carrot tops were pushing on the row cover and noticed that the other bed of carrots without row cover was doing fine, so decided to take it off. The green tops pushing the row cover were weeds and a good amount of carrots seem to be missing. I have no idea what happened to them. Next year, we'll not cover them and try to get them in more sun.
The row covers really seem to be more trouble than they are worth for some of the plants, but squash did well with them. The row covers were removed from the plants when they flowered. They were big, green, full of blossoms and beautiful. The sound coming from the bed was amazing as the loud buzzing of little wings surrounded us. The squash blossoms never lacked for attention from her suitors. Her leaves were beaten down pretty badly in the storm. We waited and hoped for the best. They were tended to the best we could by removing shattered leaves so the plant would have one wound to heal instead of a shattered leaf and stem with a great surface area of damage. I don't' know if that was right or wrong to do, I just felt I had to do something to help the plants. There are new leaves, new flowers and her suitors are back. The pumpkin plants are also showing an amazing amount of life after the beating and have a good number of blossoms. The corn has almost completely recovered, though you can still see where the lower leaves took damage.
Today I dried herbs in the Solar cooker Jeffrey built for me from super sturdy foam box packing material donated from our friend Steve and an old window from our neighbor's garage sale for $1 I believe. He attached a rope to the foam box and the window so that I wouldn't have to remove the window, I can just open and close it like a lid. It is hollowed out, glued together and lined with cardboard and aluminum foil. He tilted the box on a wood pile so that the sun would go directly into it until he can make the reflector that goes on top. I was having difficulty figuring out how to use it since it was at an angle for now. Today I worked on an outdoor cooking surface with some bricks we found on the property and it gave me an idea. I put bricks in the bottom corner to make a level surface. I picked oregano out of the garden, washed it, put it in bread pans and put in the solar cooker. When I checked about two hours later and it was crispity crunchity as I like to say. The leaves that have been upstairs on screens for 2 weeks aren't this dry. I think I actually "over cooked" them and will dry them for less time next. The pans were so hot, I needed potholders. All for FREE!!! Thank you Steve for showing us your solar cooker, donating material, loaning us books and answering questions!
Tomatoes at Crooked Creek a few weeks before the hail:
Same plants a week after the hail and picking up all the beaten off leaves and tomatoes. These plants were tall, strong and loaded with tomatoes. I was able to leave some tomatoes after the storm, these were the best that were left.