I’ll be home for Christmas…

…if you don’t mind moving it. 🙂

So, hey! I’m stranded in San Diego and posting from my phone because I’m not already generating enough content streams via Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. Would post to Cosmic Kitty, but I can’t remember the password and can’t be bothered to figure out what it is right now. Sad, considering my line of work.

So, hey! Portland! When I wished for (and was denied) a white Christmas for many years, what I didn’t ask for was the cumulative snow of those many years piled onto one Christmas and for me to be stranded in So. Cal. until it was over. Just sayin’. Make a note of it. I know you’ll do better next year.

Underutilized Crops

Reading about the history of spelt and emmer today, I discovered that Wikipedia has a category devoted to underutilized crops—it’s a term of art in agricultural biodiversity circles—highlighting 95 crops that don’t see a lot of agrarian action these days. There’s some interesting stuff in there, like Dioscorea opposita, the lube yam, and the only one suitable for eating raw. Or the tantalizingly brief entry on Kañiwa, an Andean quinoa relative whose “domestication is not complete.”

That’s it, really. Note to self: read more about underutilized crops.

Soundscape: Nativity!

Reel-to-reelTap-tap-tap. Hey. So, our friends Will and Ariel are going to have a baby soon. Its ETA is December 19TH, but you know how these things are. Could be sooner, could be later. Among his many other skills, Will is a musician and audio engineer, and has conceived of a project to mark the occasion. He would like your assistance in recording The Sound of That Day, the day his child is born, so that he can give it to said offspring some years down the road.

If you’re willing to help, sign up to be notified at the site. When the kid is born, Will will light-up the email/sms Batsignal to notify everyone, and then you’ll use your cell phone, video recorder, laptop, pearlcorder, etc. to capture some sounds from your world. Then you upload them. There’ll be a form-based interface for you to upload your sounds, along with lots of meta information like location, time, description, etc.

Short-term, Will’s going to build a Google-map API hookup and whatnot, with Flashy bells and whistles, to plot the received samples across on a world map and give contributors an interface to explore the results of the project. Long-term that’s probably not too future-proof, but he’ll try to maintain and update it over the years. Eventually, when the kid’s old enough to care—which is probably sometime around the year 2030—it’ll be something cherishable.

Eh, just go there and read Will’s explanation. So far he’s had about 100 sign-ups, which will probably translate into 30 actual participants or so, if we’re to be realistic about things. Hopefully there will be some far-flung, globe-spanning submissions. It should be fun and interesting to hear the results, not to mention satisfying, knowing that your sounds will be part of a time capsule being sent to a kid 20-odd years into the future. C’mon, help out.

Early Spring Garden Activities

Over the winter, the neglected remnants of our summer garden had come to resemble the setting of an H.R. Giger painting and, last weekend, C and I could stand it no more. Much cleaning and clearing happened on Sunday and — though the raised beds aren’t ready, yet — I’ve gotten a small start on Herbs 2007 by planting in a couple of reclaimed containers.

I can be tenderhearted to a fault and have let many a plant languish in our garden, being hesitant to seal even the weakest plant’s doom. No more! I have completely cleared the herb garden of slug bitten sage and sprawling, slimy oregano and emptied many a terracotta pot populated with half-hearted plant volunteers (strawberries that rarely fruited, twiggy lavender, etc., etc.). As I dug about, I was reminded that the herb garden had not been as deeply cultivated as the raised beds. I found significant amounts of clay not far below its surface — perhaps the reason for the underperforming herbs of the past?

Now that the once herb garden is clear, C and I are thinking that it might better be used as a tomato patch. I am also interested in seeing if I can create a viable herb garden with only containers (though basil will go into the garden proper when the time comes).

Yesterday, I sowed cilantro in a large green pot — hopefully roomy enough not to cramp the taproots. I’ve had little luck with cilantro in the herb garden up to this point. It is usually weak, leggy and swift to bolt. I hope it will do better in loose potting soil.

Tonight, I sowed parsley seed that had been soaked in water in a dark place for 24 hours. The folk wisdom on the inside of the Botanical Interests™ seed packet suggested soaking as well as watering in, once sown, with warm water. I dumped the entire packet of seed into a container a smidge smaller than the green one containing the cilantro. I followed all the folk advice save spacing the seeds. I figure that there is no need to be stingy — the seed “sell by” date is 12/06 so I’ll be happy if anything germinates. I’ll thin like crazy if it’s called for in the future.

It’s that Veat. That Veat, that Veat…

August Garden

Grape ClusterAugust is a pretty exciting month in our garden. Grapes, peppers and early cascade tomatoes are ripening. We’ve had to pick green beans every other day or so for the last couple of weeks. The potato plants are lush and blooming thanks to some tweaking of the drip irrigation system. The lemon cucumbers are bountiful as are the zucchini and yellow squash.

Some disappointments: The eggplants are still weak looking and the yellow currant hasn’t produced as much ripe fruit as I would have expected by this point in the growing season — certainly not on par with our usual small tomato of choice, the sungold (which we, sadly, couldn’t track down this year).

The Black Krim tomatoes are still very green, I hope we get some ripe ones before the weather becomes unfavorable!

Ripe Figs

Ripe Figs
The Italian Honey Fig tree has set an abundance of fruit this year and it looks like the first figs of the season are ready for picking.

From my experience, figs aren’t really ripe until they appear a touch over-ripe and ready to fall off the tree. Look at the fig with brown spots in the lower right of this photo. That looks about right. 🙂 Figs are very sensual fruits when they are mature, the ripe one appears to be weeping sticky fig juice onto its neighbor. Of course, it would figure that those first ripe specimens would be just out of my arm’s reach.

In all previous years, I’ve taken the presence of ants as a sign of ripeness. They seem to have a sixth-sense about ripe, oozy figs and can be seen running in and out of the fig’s pore when the fruit is at its peak. Strangely, I haven’t seen any ants on the tree this year. I wonder if there has been some trouble in the ant community.

I was going to mention the towering flowering beans, but C has already done so. Of all the plants in the garden, they seem to be the ones that most capture his attention. What can it mean?

All the watering we’ve employed to combat the recent 100+ degree temperatures has really made the weeds in the garden walk happy. They are knee high in spots. It’s a jungle out there.

My poor Correnta Hybrid Spinach. Most of the seedlings died in the last heat wave, and those that survived have now bolted before reaching a consumable, useful size. So much for my summer spinach experiment.