This morning we put in an order of 100 lbs. of Red Pontiac potatoes, some of which we plan to put in the ground asap. We also ordered a pound each of three types of garlic: Sicilian Silver, Inchilium, and Brown Tempest. The order is just one of the many first steps that we’ve taken to start up our small farm with the Community Food Bank’s help and Community Culivators program. I’ll try and backtrack a little in future posts to fill in the blanks of what’s been going since August. Right now, we have our plan for the 1/4 acre plot. In it we’ll plant mostly broccoli, potatoes and garlic - 12 rows total. Then have 2 rows of speciality crops that includes spinach, collards, peas, lima beans, lettuce, beets, and more. I wouldn’t know where to start if you asked me why I’ve decided to do this right now, but I could say it just feels right. Growing food is part of me and I’m going with my gut feeling. Whatever happens, with growing conditions and weather this year, I know that I’ll end up with more knowledge and experience. Hopefully, we’ll harvest some good, local, and healthy food to sell at the farmer’s market too! See you there in a couple months :)
I haven’t reported on any new products that either use no or little plastic packaging because we have been pretty strict on buying only bulk items that we store in glass mason jars. However, while on vacation in Bar Harbor, Maine last week we went out to dinner as a family at Cafe This Way. The food was AMAZING, the service even better, and when they served our drinks of iced tea and lemonade they came out with paper straws. I asked our waiter Tony where they bought the straws and he told us about Aardvark. More restaurants need to consider reducing the plastic service items they hand out every single day. Go to Cafe This Way and check out the Aardvark Paper Straws! Then try out the Brazilian seafood dish or the Lobster Roll Trio for a gastronomic experience (to quote my sister Jen)!
Artichoke plant is nearly dead. Possible reasons include extreme heat, overwatering from monsoon rains, or the toxic water from compost that I routinely pour over it when cleaning out the bin…whoops! It yielded over two dozen artichoke so I’m still happy. I think I will pull out the entire plant this year, rather than leave in the stump as I did last year, to free up some space.
Three tomato varieties are all doing well, but the smaller cherry and plum-sized ones are the best. They are currently covered with white sheets to prevent burning and splitting and predation from garden wildlife.
Eggplant (both Japanese and Black Beauty varieties) are doing very well. After having a rough start we applied some magic worm castings bought at a farmers market in Flagstaff. Both plants are flourishing and very productive.
Carrizo squash at the south end of the plot is now taking off. Bunnies were to blame for all the nibblings of fresh leave, shoots, and flowers. We covered the entire plant with a planket and after two weeks of protection, the plant has taken off. We removed the planket yesterday and hope to see blossoms soon.
Jalapenos are many, but small. Good for our garden salsa!
Watermelon seems to be healthy with one small melon, but hopefully more will come.
Malabar spinach is out of control, but I pretty sure we can keep up with eating it. Steamed and fresh in salads everyday.
One okra out of many seeds planted is doing well at 14 inches high and still growing.
No time yet to stop at second garden to check on chiles, pumpkin, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes.
Just found frozen blackberries, blueberries and strawberries at the Food Conspiracy Coop on 4th Ave in Tucson. The company is Stahlbush Island Farms and they have 100% biodegradable packaging. It is very difficult to find berries without a plastic shell around them, but I can deal with frozen over fresh if I means more smoothies and more berry-topped waffles and pancakes! In fact, I’m enjoying a blackberry/strawberry smoothie right now and it’s so delicious!
Because I don’t have time to bake bread every week it’s good to have something to snack on, dip in soup, or give some crunch to any meal. I don’t even consider buying other crackers now since Wasa is the only brand that I’ve found so far that does not have any plastic packaging. The crispbreads are wrapped in paper and come in lots of flavors - my favorite is sesame. One of my favorite snacks is a crispbread with guacamole and sliced tomato. Try them out and check em out on Facebook
The second item on my list of products without plastic are Tofutti cuties. They are delicious little tofu ice cream sandwiches. Tofutti cuties come in a recyclable cardboard box and each cutie is wrapped in paper. Even though they advertise as a living healthy treat, they do have high fructose corn syrup and other additives - but they are so good! So just have your cuties in moderation :)
A second attempt at planting the Native Seeds Search seeds has been made – I have a much better feeling about it this time. There are a number of factors that may have contributed to the last planting’s failure: the soil mix, the colder night temperatures in March, or a couple of dry days due to late watering. I am certain that it was human error and not seeds that are fault for 100% non-germination. I am planning a rescue attempt of the jiffy pot planted seeds, but I am not confident that any can be salvaged. Instead I am hoping that the second attempt will be more productive. This new crop has been planted directly into the garden plot. Two types of chiles, two melons, two watermelons, and two squashes have their own section of the plot so they can be closely observed. The success of the transplants in the north part of the plot keep me hopeful. The artichokes continue to rise and expand; as noted in the last post, there is one artichoke fruit showing. The onions, while shaded by the growing and multiplying artichoke leaves, are looking good. No sign on f the onion above the soil yet though. The spaghetti squash have all flourished and I look forward to guiding them up the trellis when they are ready. The very tiny pepper plants are now just little. This little mystery pepper plot is somewhat experimental due to my pepper planting ignorance. I planted many, sometimes more than 5, seeds together. At Mequite Valley Growers you sometimes see two or maybe three stalks in one transplant container, but I have 3-6 little stalks coming out of some planting spots. Next time I’ll be sure to only have 1 or seeds seeds for each planting. And then at least come the tomatoes! Eve the littlest one has set down its roots and started to grow towards the sky. The leaves have broadened for taking full advantage of the sun’s nourishment. There are 5 little cherry tomatoes on the Gardener’s Delight. The tomato plants so far have not needed guidance and seem to instinctively know that holding onto the trellis will increase its overall stability and chances of gathering the most resources: the sunrays and monsoons raindrops. I am happy to have gotten an earlier start in the planting season this year. These roots will grow deeper and these branches will produce even more fruit! Speaking of fruit, there are more strawberries than I can count now even though they are still green. After I get back from Florida I plan on taking measures to reduce predation by scheming bunnies and birds. Hopefully they’ll leave me at least one so I can taste the fruits of our labor.
Went by the NSS Store on Campbell this morning and picked up another batch of the same seeds. This time I’ll plant them directly in the ground and hope for the best! Also picked up a sunflower packet :)
As a yet another perk to being a member of Community Gardens of Tucson I have received free seeds from Native Seeds SEARCH! Up until last month I had only transplanted veggies and herbs and had good results. In both the summer and winter plantings I was behind the clock, so most plants were a little later to produce. No complaints at all though! I’ve been shocked to see what the desert environment can produce with just a little water :)
Last month, I started some seeds in jiffy pots in my backyard. Red Russian Kale (Brassica napus), Golden Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), Ring-o-Fire Cayenne Chile (Capsicum annuum), Early Jalapeno Chile (Capsicum annuum), and Spaghetti Squash (Cucurbita pepo). All the seeds came from Seeds of Change and were ordered off the internet. I have many more herbs that I haven’t seeded yet - most of which are medicinal. Will write more on those later…Back to Native Seeds SEARCH: Today I received the 10 seed packets from NSS. As I said above we CGOT gardeners can get free seeds in return for careful observation and recording of the plant phenology. NSS conveniently provides a detailed datasheet for logging observations and notes. Here’s a list of the seeds that myself and fellow gardener Jack will be planting:(the numbers correspond to the catalog order number)