Monday, April 12, 2010
What I've Been Up To, The Last Week Or So
I finally got the asparagus planted. I paid for twenty-five plants and the grower packed thirty, so I gave the last five to my neighbor whose husband has just built her a big planter box. I have planter box envy. It's really nice. Anyway, the asparagus came with detailed planting instructions, which I passed on to Suni, with the advice that the new shoots are e*x*t*r*e*m*e*l*y fragile, which the instructions don't mention, so be careful. I had only room for twenty-five plants in my asparagus bed, so Suni lucks out.
I emailed the nursery last week that none of the Tulameen raspberries are up, although almost all the Autumn Britten are up and have been for awhile, and they were planted on the same day. Then over the weekend I notice that finally! two of the Tulameen are breaking the soil. I'm waiting to hear what the nursery says before I report that two are up- they may be the only two, after all.
I also direct seeded some carrots, beets, radishes and leeks into the beds, and built the planter box that goes on top of the flower bed and then planted a Wonderblue lilac in it. Lilacs evidently need really good drainage and I wasn't about to take a chance on our clay, so I built a box to raise it up. There were fence boards lying around because we are getting a new end of the fence and gate, so I recycled fence board. It should last a couple of years and then I can decide what to do next.
Next stop in the garden: I need to prepare an area in the ground for and do some research on the Three Sisters. The Three Sisters, if you've no idea, is a planting practice from the ever-wise Native Americans. You plant corn, squash and beans in the same hill. The corn provides a stalk for the beans to grow up, the beans fix nitrogen from the air for the corn and squash, and the squash leaves provide shade for the the corn and bean roots. A perfect symbiotic relationship. I've been wanting to try it ever since learning about it, and almost passed it up because of the no legumes, no grains part of Steve's diet. But I decided that it should be okay, as long as I don't serve it to him during the day. I have one corn to plant called Quickie Hybrid, which is a sugar-enhanced hybrid and very early- only 64 days, and I have another open-pollinated corn called Golden Bantam, which is a high-yielding heirloom. It also has an excellent reputation for freezing on the cob. I'll only plant one kind of green bean, Roma II, which is a lovely flat Italian bean. I'll be freezing as much of those as I can- they are supposed to be excellent for freezing, and I dearly love this kind of green bean! For squash I'm planting some organic small sugar pumpkins, which is an heirloom variety and is supposed to make "mouth-watering pies". Which is funny, because all I need them to do is make pumpkin pies. Steve doesn't like pumpkin pie (I think it's the ginger) and I love them (I think it's the delicious) and I'm tired of not having pumpkin pie, so I am growing my own and I'll be canning my own, and making, baking, and ultimately eating my own!! The other squash is a beautiful gray squash with an impossibly orange interior, the seeds for which I got from Novella Carpenter of Farm City fame. She generously passed out the Triamble seeds to anyone who wanted to try them, so I signed up. If you haven't read Farm City, you should- it's a great read.
And speaking of freezing, I ordered our quarter steer this weekend as well. This necessitates buying a freezer, but that was in the plans anyway. Carman Ranch is in northeastern Oregon and they do humanely-raised, grass-fed cattle. Steve and I have been wanting to do this for awhile, and I managed to time checking their website just right because the 2010 order form was available. Cory is going to let me have livers, oxtails, and tongue, as well. I know what you're thinking, but Steve likes tongue, so I'm going to learn how to cook it for him. I may not learn to like it, but I'm going to learn to cook it properly. Anyway- I'm really excited that in June, somewhere in Portland I'll be picking up a couple of boxes of frozen beef. I'll be picking up my friends Dave and Carl at the airport on the same trip, so it'll be an interesting question of cramming luggage and beef into the back of the wagon. If the boys travel the way they always do, which is very light-usually just a knapsack, there will be plenty of room. And guess what? When we get home, they can help me load the freezer. After I make cocktails, of course.