State Of The Garden

It’s January! As you might expect, most of the garden is shut down for the winter…certainly, the okra has pretty much had it:

Dried okra pod

Base of one of the okra stalks.

10-ft. okra stalks.

However, it’s been relatively mild (read: no blizzards or ice storms yet) and there are a few things still thriving:


Transplanted lavender.

Cover crops, about one month after they were planted.

The fava beans on the left and the whatever-it-is on the right (wheat, I hope) are still small, but definitely thriving. Hopefully they’ll hang on until it gets really cold…

In other news: there’s a nice article up at the New York Times about women farmers in Italy.

Andrea Segrè, dean of the faculty of agriculture at the University of Bologna, said women were finding “lots of space” in multifunctional areas like agricultural tourism, farmers’ markets, organic farming and direct sales. And agriculture schools across Italy have seen an increase in enrollment, particularly among women, he said. “The agriculture of the future is very much female, as it has always been,” he said.


Garden Report: December

We’ve had below-freezing temperatures for several nights now, so the garden is officially done for the year. However, there are still a few things to be excited about:

Size reference: the sweet potato on the bottom right is about the length of my forearm (maybe a bit longer).

All of the sweet potatoes in the photograph came from a single plant. Gardening is amazing!

It’s time to start planning…expect some preliminary garden outlines soon…


Holy cow! It’s been one year since I started this thing. To celebrate, I am working on editing what will be my very first published article: a piece that was just accepted by the professional journal of the American Society for the Alexander Technique. It’s about my experience as an AT teacher working with a college-aged performer of contemporary classical music. Huzzah!

Surprised that I didn’t try to submit something to a publication that focuses on food-related issues? Me too. I’m sure it’ll happen someday. However, whatever else has happened over this year, I appear to have become a better writer, and I certainly have more confidence about putting some words out there for public consumption.

It’ll be back to normal here soon, I promise…

Writing About Not Writing

That’s right: I have not posted every day in November. I’ve done it in the past and felt mildly virtuous, but this year…it didn’t happen. Which is totally fine. I spent last week, mostly, not writing. I didn’t do much practicing, either. I did, however, do some creative things that made me feel a little better about the world and that were slightly out of my comfort zone. I spent time with my in-laws and watched some silly movies and played games. I walked a lot, and got my hair cut, and went to the museum, and had some really good mulled cider.

The point is, I suppose, that last week was not wasted – even if I didn’t do the things I thought I would be doing.

Being A Real Musician

So, yes, I realize that I have completely fallen down on the “post-everyday-in-November” challenge. I have also decided to not care about this very much. However, it is still November and I am still going to post about non-food related thoughts. Namely…

Last night we were hanging out with my brother-in-law and his band, who play a nicely danceable form of electronic pop that I happen to find immensely appealing. All three current members are talented musicians: the singer has both excellent control over her tone and intonation and fabulous mic technique, the drummer is wicked good, and my brother-in-law is the man behind the curtain who plays everything else and does all the electronic programming and mixing. As often happens when I hear other musicians who have managed to work together to build a coherent sound that is out of my realm of expertise, I think about how much fun it would be to learn keyboards and synthesizers, or to sing in a band, or build my own instruments.

But, we were introduced to a friend of the drummer as “real musicians”. Half-jokingly, but…still. I’ve heard this in the past from other people who play folk or rock. Real musicians apparently play a formally recognized type of music, that has a tradition/performance practice, that has rules that one must follow. In my case, classical piano and Irish fiddle. Because I can play Bach (fairly well, on a good day), and I have letters after my name, and so on, I get to be a real musician. However, I can’t really say that I have an artistic vision for my music, or a certain type of sound that I’m trying to create. And, I really admire people who do have those things, who hear something in their head that is unique and visionary and are willing to put themselves and their music out there in a world that is obsessed with genre and categorizing.


In Praise Of Locavores

It’s getting late and I haven’t posted anything today. Ack! Here’s something that’s much better than anything I would have come up with: La Vida Locavore‘s Jill Richardson debunks some common anti-local-food myths.

The arguments are stale, shallow and often incorrect. But if you enjoy the flavor of organic heirloom tomatoes, fresh picked from the farm, here’s how to read these articles without filling with guilt that your love of local food is doing the planet in and starving people in the Global South.”


Three Sisters And Other (Strange) Companions

My splendid cousin Gayla asked me about the Three Sisters gardening technique today on Facebook, and I thought I’d go ahead and just turn the answer into a blog post (it’s November, I need all the ideas I can get!). The Three Sisters is a Native American tradition that calls for corn, beans, and squash to all be planted together: the beans provide nitrogen, the corn gives the beans a trellis to grow on, and the squash provides ground cover and shade for the roots of all three plants. I haven’t tried this, but I’d really like to give it a shot next year. I would think that the corn would have to go in before the beans and get well established before the beans start trying to climb up the cornstalk – beans grow quickly and it’s sort of defeating the purpose if there’s nothing for them to trellis on! So, expect some reports on this in about 8 1/2 months or so.

Next year I’m planning to do quite a bit of this kind of companion planting; mostly with flowers and/or herbs that are beneficial to the vegetables instead of planting vegetables as companions. Based on what I’ve read so far, just planting the companions won’t fix everything – some companions, like marigolds with tomatoes, need to be planted for a year or two before the effect is really noticeable. I have both Carrots Love Tomatoes and Roses Love Garlic and I plan to make very good use of them, starting with the planning phase in December/January.



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