Oikos Update 8/12/12
Gardening isn’t going too well this summer. I’m going to blame the drought, perhaps an over abundance of nitrogen from the rabbit manure, high temperatures and relying on unreliable volunteer plantings. I’m picking a few tomatoes every day, a few green beans and I’m good on greens. I’ve picked a few squashes and one cucumber, although I do have some Armenian cucumbers that haven’t reached maturity. Once I saw a lot of volunteer squash and tomatoes coming up, I decided that I’d basically sit back and let nature take it’s course. Unfortunately many of the squash plants aren’t producing and the tomatoes are doing ok – nothing special. This time of the year I should have more stuff coming out of the garden than I know what to do with. Oh, and my mini-orchard that I put a lot of money and effort into isn’t looking so hot either.
On the plus side, we’re getting a few bell peppers and it looks like we could get some more. Our various hot pepper plants, especially Kung Pao are doing well. I finally have one eggplant forming and the second cantaloupe of the year. We’ve picked a few tomatillos and it looks like we’re on the verge of getting a ton of them, which will be cool. It just looks like things have been pushed back a bit due to high temps, perhaps. Also on the plus side, our CSA has been doing really well despite everything so every week we’re definitely getting enough produce. I’m glad we kept that membership…
So I’m going to try to make up for the summer shortfall buy going balls deep with fall plantings. About 10 days ago I planted a bunch of stuff, but my dog dug it up. I fixed the fence and replanted everything a few days ago. We have rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, beets, radishes, snow peas, arugula, kale, spinach, salsify (this one probably won’t work this year, but why not try?) and carrots in one bed. I planted some pac choi in some open space in another. Today I planted turnips, Romanesco broccoli, beets, spinach, romaine lettuce, radishes, carrots, mustard greens, cilantro, peas, fava beans, swiss chard and kale in open spaces in containers. The open container space is either from herbs that didn’t work out or open space around existing plants. For example, I have spinach, carrots and mustard greens growing in open spaces around hot peppers, figuring that these cold-hardy plants will not interfere with the peppers and then when frost comes we’ll have established plants in the containers that can take it. I have seed trays with cabbage and leeks started from a couple of weeks ago. I’m planning on starting some collards, kale and chard in seed trays so I can put those in garden beds as needed.
So I have a plan to turn the year into something of a success. We’ll see how that works out.
I picked up some tobacco seeds, sorghum/broom corn and luffa gourds to play around with next year. I don’t smoke so I won’t use the tobacco, but I think I could bring in a little extra cash by selling tobacco seedlings in containers to smokers into the whole local/organic food thing. I’ll have to check my local laws, but I don’t think there’s anything illegal about this, as long as I’m not actually selling dried tobacco. If it’s illegal to sell, I’m sure it would be a cool barter item.
As per the posts about the drought I’ve written recently, I’m in the process of upping the amount of dried beans and grains we keep on hand. These kinds of things store for a very long time under the right conditions and will probably not go down in price. Might as well buy in bulk today at today’s prices instead of buying as you need it at higher prices. Plus there’s a good feeling in knowing that you have enough staples to sustain yourself if you need to for whatever reason. I’m going to have to pick up a couple more food-grade 5 gallon buckets from a local frozen custard joint. They sell their used ones at a $1 a piece, which isn’t bad at all.