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Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Gardener's Diary: Farmer Giles, the ham.



With the temp down to 98 at 4.30, I decided to go out and see what was up with my spuds.

Back in the spring, I had a few potatoes that had gone a bit soft. I cut them up and planted them in my herb bed, and some more in a bed under the eaves that gets a bit more sun. An A/B experiment, the tech guys call it.

Couple of months later I was turning the compost and found two I'd tossed way back when, and which had put up shoots to the surface. So into the eaves bed they went, too.

They didn't amount to much, those last ones, but the rest did OK, and the ones in the herb bed put out a fine display of greenery through the late spring and early summer. The last week or so, that started to die back, so today I went out with a hand spade and started digging. 24 in all! Kinda cool. Think what I could have accomplished with an actual plan.

More compost will go in, and then two dozen pepper plants I germinated from seed and have been hardening off in ice trays (No, not in the freezer, silly...honestly. I can never take you ANYWHERE, my mother would say). The little compartments are as good as buying flats from a nursery.

Last year I started the Pepper Project with a dozen seedlings Housemate's mom sent over. I raised them in pots and overwintered them indoors, then set the in the ground this year. They are flowering nicely, though I have learned that once you plant them, moving them will make them sulk and grow more slowly. The ones that have stayed in situ are twice as tall as the ones I relo'd for the Great Potato Experiment.

So now there will be 25 more out there, two generations of the same peppers, the grownups hectoring the younger about standing up straighter and how some just flower earlier than others, so no, that doesn't mean you're ugly, Peter.

Last year's twelve gave me a quart's worth to pickle and I have been enjoying those immensely during the winter and spring. I'm hoping to score a bunch more Ball Jars, for all the extra peppers this fall, from a neighbor. Her mother was of the generation that built out all their closets with tightly packed floor to ceiling shelving for their canning. But her mom has been dead ten years and the daughter doesn't like canned anything, except the modern microwaveable variety.

I tell her there is no call for a Canned Produce Museum, at least not if she won't let anyone in to see the exhibits. Just keeping the jars out of circulation because they were mom's borders on idolatry, and is wasteful.

But she defines the Supreme Court's famous phrase, "with all deliberate speed." The other day she re-Heftybagged several loads of soda cans for the third time in the last two years. They just sit on the stoop out back until the birds peck the bags open again, and the process is repeated.

She says she is going to take them to the recycler, two miles away, but I think she means the executor of her estate will take them. Two other bags offended her some months ago, so she put them behind her shed, and so made them disappear.

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