Garden pictures

In spite of the unusually warm weather we had most of the last
week, the garden is still only just getting started. Places
with more sun sprang into bloom some time ago, but our back yard
still thinks (correctly) that it’s March.

Here are what I think are going to be daffodils:

[daffodil buds]

Daffodil Buds, March 22, 2010

And here’s a crocus bud that pushed its way through a tough oak

[crocus and oak leaf]

Crocus Bud and Oak Leaf, March 22, 2010

Unwithered Sedge

Sedge is looking healthy

I’ve been meaning to take a picture of the sedge for you, but
we’ve had snow cover since mid-December. Yesterday there was
heavy rain as well as warm temperatures, so it’s possible to
take the sedge’s picture. As you can see, it isn’t
this year, either.

The consistent snow cover is easier on plants than our usual
freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle, so the woodruff and the wild
onions aren’t withered either.

Getting ready for winter

We’ve been having mild, September-like October weather, but the
last couple of days have been the dank, November-like October.

So last night, with threats of snow in the forecast, I brought
in the plants from the fire escape, and this morning I filled
the humidifier.

I thought you’d like to see some of the plants.

The basil is from a branch from the farm share that grew
roots before I could use it, so I planted it in the windowbox.

[basil in bloom]

The rosemary I just bought at the store, but it’s done well in
the windowbox. I hope it likes being indoors until Spring.


Some winters here are mild enough that rosemary survives
outside, but of course then it isn’t as easy to go pick a

I haven’t turned the heat on yet, so it’s a little early for
the humidifier, but even if I don’t turn my heat on, the
neighbors might turn theirs on and make the air drier.

Forsythia wreath in October

No, this is the Northern Hemisphere. Sunny and I walk by a
house that has a forsythia
on its door, right now.

[forsythia wreath]

For some reason, I find this a lot more jarring than the people
who leave their Christmas decorations up until Spring.

In New England, forsythia is one of those pledges that Spring
is about to arrive. Everything’s grey and brown and muddy, and
hardly any green has gotten going yet, and suddenly there are
bright yellow flowers.

If you’re getting tired of the grey and brown, you can bring
some branches in and force them even while there’s still snow, and get the bright
yellow in your home even before it gets going outside.

In October, there are trees blazing orange and yellow and red,
and still lots of green grass, especially in a rainy year like

So my guess is that the person with the forsythia on their
front door isn’t much of a botanist or seasonal decorator.

Farm Share for One

I went to visit my family yesterday, and I think my sister was
a little disappointed that all I brought them were two melons
and a bunch of collard greens.

I got the share on the assumption that I wouldn’t cook that
much, but there wouldn’t be any trouble giving some away to
people who would, and it isn’t so expensive that if a few things
end up in the compost bin it isn’t a tragedy.

In general, it has been working out that way. The melons are a
problem because I don’t like them at all, and apparently neither
do some of the people I give things to. This week I had an
unusually large number of events to cook for, which accounts for
not having brought lettuce or beans to the family.

I did dither about what to do with the excess zucchini long
enough that they developed unsightly spots, so I think I’ll put
them in the compost bin, although probably the starving children
in India would be glad to have them.

If they eat zucchini in
India. If they don’t, the children would probably insist on
starving even if someone gave them lots of zucchini. My Polish
relatives tell the story of some well-intentioned food-relief
efforts from the US after World War II, where anyone in Poland
could get all the peanut butter they could eat, and it sat there
in the warehouse while starving people who’d never touched peanut
butter in their lives and weren’t going to start now died in
the streets.

In any case, my zucchini would have worse than unsightly spots
by the time it got to India, even if it weren’t more efficient
to send money to OXFAM or
somewhere than to mail zucchini to India. And I haven’t put
very much stuff in the compost bin.

I chopped down a cherry tree

I was late with my post yesterday because I spent the morning
in Fall River. I usually go there to see my mother and sister
for dinner, but there are things you don’t feel like doing after
dinner, so I spent the night and in the morning helped with the
tree and practiced some of the music
and I will be playing on September 21 at the Fall
River Arts Around the Block festival.

We didn’t really chop down the whole tree, but we ended up
cutting off a lot more of it than I would have expected. The
problem was that Comcast wouldn’t install cable television
(which they need because with the new, improved digital
broadcast TV they can’t get a lot of stations they used to get)
unless they trimmed the branches that were in the way of where
lines come into the house. It needed to be trimmed in any case,
because it was quite likely that if a storm moved the branches
violently enough, they would stop having telephone service.

There was really only one branch that needed to go away, but
the ladder we were using wasn’t high enough to reach that branch
just before it started trying to grab the phone line. So we had
to saw it off close to the trunk of the tree, and to get to
that, we had to saw a lot of other branches. To get the ladder
to where we could saw those branches, we had to saw some more

So the upshot was there was a fairly big pile of cherry
branches, some of which will make firewood for next winter.
They’re choke cherries, so the birds will be upset, but it won’t
affect the Conrad family food supply any.

And the flower bed on that side of the house will get a lot
more sun now. It’s a southern exposure, so you tend to think of
it as full sun, but of course the part that was under this tree wasn’t.

News from the Farm Share

It looks like I can get an extra half-bushel of cucumbers just
by asking for it. I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve been
getting the last two weeks, and had no trouble using up the two
I got two weeks ago, and have only 2 left from the 6 I got last
week, but I’m not sure what I’d do with a half-bushel.

So I’ve emailed all the people I see regularly to see if they
want to help out, and I’m planning to look up pickle recipes. I
always assumed that I’d end up doing some pickling if I were
getting a box of vegetables every week during the summer. I
only have one refrigerator, so it isn’t that much different from
people who lived before refrigeration getting fruits and
vegetables all summer and needing to can and pickle to have any
at all in the winter.

The bad news is that the Late Blight
has started to hit the tomatoes on the farm, so there will be no
tomatoes and fewer (or smaller) potatoes than expected. With the
potatoes, they kill the vines and harvest what’s underground.
So they would have expected them to continue growing all through
August and into September and maybe even October, but what’s there
now is what there’s going to be.

One of my mother’s cookbooks (maybe the Settlement
Cook Book
?) had a recipe for Green Tomato Mincemeat that I
always wanted to try. Maybe I can get free green tomatoes and
make up jars of that and have free pies for Thanksgiving?