Saturday, May 30, 2009

Almost June

It's amazing to think May is nearly over. At the beginning of the month it still felt like spring. Now it definitely seems like summer. It's been high 80's or more all week, the cheat grass is already setting seeds, and the morning glories (bindweed) are starting to bloom (ugh). I'm so glad we mowed last weekend. It looks so much better than it did.

I'll be planting out the peppers and pumpkins tomorrow. That is, if I can find space for the pumpkins. The three extra rhubarb plants are taking up more room than I'd like. So I'm not sure where I can fit in three pumpkins. Maybe I'll rip out the old arugula along one edge, so I can train the pumpkin vines outwards. That might work.

The tomatoes are doing really well so far. It's only been a week and I can already see more height and new leaves. I have 16 plants this year, all planted from seed. That sounds like a lot but five are small fruited; two grape variety, Sprite, and three of a cool-looking one called Ceylon. You can see them both here. I really hope they grow and produce a lot, 'cause the fruit sounds wonderful.

Of the others I ended up with two Legend and two Costoluto Genovese, both earlier types. There are two purple-fruited Paul Robeson, two Red Brandywine, and three Virginia Sweets, a red and yellow bicolor I am very curious to see. The picture in the catalog (bottom of the page) looked beautiful, and they sound delicious too. If all goes well, I'll probably be giving some away, but that's alright. We'll have plenty of yummy tomatoes around.

It's been a long week. Aside from the normal stuff I do - fieldwork interviews and report typing, I volunteered to help out on a smaller contract we have with the US Forest Service; fingerprinting their first responders. So I and three colleagues spent all day Wednesday fingerprinting firefighters :). The only training I had was a video, but at least that gave me the basic idea. For my first vic - uh, fingerprintee, I got a policeman. He was very helpful in showing me how to do the edge-to-edge roll for the single prints. The four of us did over 100 people that day, two full cards (left and right hands) each. That's a lot of fingerprinting. It wasn't hard, but the tables were all too short, so we were all bending over. The taller, more muscular guys with tight shoulders really had to contort themselves to let me do the edge-to-edge roll, especially on their ring and pinky fingers. I had one, probably the tallest guy I printed, who finally just bent over at the waist so he could get his shoulder down low enough for me to roll his fingers correctly.

It was a nice change from normal - and hey, I know how to fingerprint someone now! - but it did put me behind on my other work. I drove nearly 200 miles on Friday, running around trying to get things done.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Got my hair cut yesterday. I think she took 3-4 inches off. It was so long that I wasn't enjoying it anymore. And it was HOT! I was torn between going as short as it was in Korea, and where it is now. But she layered it a bit, so some of the natural wave comes through.

I planted out most of the tomatoes today. Still have the peppers and the small-fruit tomatoes to do, but they're going in a different area. Two or three of the new "Espresso" glads have leaves poking up, and the raspberries are really getting thick. I think I'll have to go through and thin out some of the canes.

I also planted up a new pot for the deck. I didn't really think about it at the time, but I seem to be going for a pink & purple theme this year. The first picture is a pot I planted up about three weeks ago. The white lobelia doesn't have any flowers yet, but I hope it will soon. The bottom pic is what I did today. It has a yellow-leaved fuschia, the black & green coleus, rose lobelia, and those dark pink torrenia. I think I'm going to like the torrenia - they're almost like trailing snapdragons. Neither pot has really filled out yet, but I hope they'll do well. It will be a challenge finding spots for them where they don't get sun ALL day.

There's a storm cloud overhead, but it hasn't rained. I'm not sure I want it to or not, since I plan to mow the back field this weekend, around the cottage garden area. I want to bag the cuttings, rather than mulch them, so it might take me a while. I just don't want all those seedheads put right back on the soil.

Sure is nice to have three days off. We're thinking about going for a hike in the Owyhees tomorrow, depending on the weather.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy May to Me

I guess it's not so unexpected that May is my favorite month. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that everyone's favorite month is the month they were born. Maybe each person has different reasons, but surely there is some natural affinity for the time of year you entered the world. Me, I like May. Especially here in Idaho. However much we might think Spring has come, when May arrives the Mayflower blooms, the iris open, asparagus and rhubarb are there for the picking, the irrigation ditches fill, the snow starts melting off Schaffer Butte, and the rain (usually) falls.

My tomatoes and peppers are getting much bigger. I have eight sugar snap peas growing, a few parsnips sprouting, and all four asparagus crowns made it through the winter. The red raspberries are spreading nicely into the empty space left by the black raspberry we dug up last fall, and the Autumn Gold are spreading in the other direction. Not as thrilled about that, but it's hard to be unhappy about more raspberries.

My colleague and gardening friend who gave me the rhubarb crown let me come over this week to pick some of his rhubarb. Mine isn't big enough yet. I wish I'd taken pictures. In spite of splitting it last year, this rhubarb is once again a monster plant that would look at home in the Pleistocene undergrowth! I'm going to have a great time tomorrow making stewed rhubarb and rhubarb crumble. Mmmmmm!

Last weekend we went to an organic farm tour organized by Idaho's Bounty, an organic farming co-op that a friend of ours belongs to. He's an organic herb farmer who sells his produce to local restaurants and stores. One of his neighbors raises grass-fed beef organically. The two of them gave the tour. There were about 40 people, many from Boise but some from our area and further west, including a winemaker (Zhou-Zhou and Hell's Canyon). These were all Co-op members, both growers and eaters :).

First we went to Mesquite Cattle Co, to walk around the various pastures, learn about growing grass, grass types, gravity-fed irrigation, various breeds of cattle that do well on grass, etc. This farm used to run on the customary industrial farming model. But in the last five years he's gone into organic grass-fed beef, without the corn-fed finish. Then across the road to Purple Sage Farms to see and smell the poly-tunnel greenhouses full of perennial and annual herbs. Our favorite was the rosemary! Mmmm!

Afterwards we all went to the house for a pot-luck of dishes made with Idaho-grown produce. So we got to try the grass-fed beef and herbs, as well as lots of other things. Really wonderful food. The big emphasis of the day was how connecting consumers to producers can benefit both groups, and the importance of supporting local food production.

After dinner hubby, our friend, and a few others sat down to play some tunes while the rest of us chatted and watched the lambs play out in the field. I fell into conversation with the winemaker about Scottish Country dancing. Who knows, we may be doing a dance and music gig at the winery in July!