Tuesday, April 03, 2007

If I Were A Featherbed

If I were an evangelist of any sort, I’d be an evangelist that folks should grow some of their own food. No matter where they are, no matter who they are, no matter what, period. People would understand a whole lot more if they had just one row of beans. It doesn’t take much room, it can be decorative, it is certainly educational not to mention life altering.

I spent a large part of today getting things to not grow. People who don’t grow food probably don’t give much thought to how much a producer of food doesn’t want some stuff to grow, at least in certain places at certain times. And if soil is healthy and fertile, a lot of stuff is going to try to grow there. Stuff that will choke out your food and turn your orchard into an impenetrable thicket.

I spent a lot of time trying to kill stupid honeysuckle today. Now, I enjoy honeysuckle as much as anyone. I remember sucking the flowers as a kid and have done so as an adult, and the fragrance is intoxicating. But my stupid neighbor (we all have our moments, she just has more of them) planted honeysuckle on my fence near some fruit trees. So every year since then I’ve had to try to kill the damn stuff out. “You don’t like honeysuckle?” she asked in her little girl innocent voice when I mentioned I was trying to kill it one time a few years ago. That’s how I knew she’d planted it.

But that is how ignorant people are of growing food -- to plant an invasive climbing smothering vine near fruit trees. There was once a woman who blithely and condescendingly declared to us, “I know how to grow food,” as if growing food were an afterthought. One year she actually managed to plant a few beds. Beds that were quickly overrun with weeds. Months later she had no idea there were three carrots in the weeds -- because she didn’t know what carrots looked like even having seen them with their tops in the store. Yeah, she knows how to grow food, sure.

Of course, considering that most people can’t even cook a pea, planting one may seem quite the stretch. This is why I think people will starve to death with the end of the oil age. Not that they have to, but that if McD’s isn’t serving, they’ll stand at the drive-thru and wait, hoping.

Well, the wild mustard is coming on strong, and I noticed the fiddleheads up today so I should go pick some. The redbuds are blooming and waiting to be thrown into a salad. The other goats are getting their bags so there will be more babies this month. There’s lots and lots growing -- lettuce and radishes and spinach and kale and cabbage and lots of summer stuff too, still protected. The corn field has been glysophated in preparation to plowing, but the plow still needs a depth wheel (we‘ve been rehabbing an ancestral plow). The pear trees have been sprayed with teramycin against the fire blight. Maybe the honeysuckle has been checked a little in the front orchard, and maybe I’ll get that area “redone” this year -- tear the old fence (and roses) out, put a decorative split rail in (with perennials of my choosing), and make it more accessible to mowing which is the real answer to the honeysuckle anyway. Maybe.

But you can only do what you can do. Which isn’t everything that needs doing. And usually it isn't decorative.

the title is from a John McCutcheon song we had played at our wedding

22 comments:

El said...

LOVE fiddleheads. Sauteed with butter and green garlic or ramps if you've got them, so very GREEN in your mouth.

I'd be willing to bet people will simply starve. Planting a row of beans smacks of work, which, as you know, people avoid at all costs. And forget about those fruit trees; they'd be smothered because it again is too much work. And why don't you have a tractor for that corn?

Mushy said...

Thanks for the tip on fiddle heads...saw a bunch of them yesterday at the UT Arboretum in Oak Ridge. Unfortunately, I think the ramps come in much later than the ferns.

I got my fill of farming and gardening as a kid, but I do remember the wonderful feel of the good earth between my bare toes.

the Contrary Goddess said...

mushy, no one has their fill until their belly is full. Right now people's bellies are full because of cheap oil. Not for long.

On the fiddleheads, steam them first. They take FOREVER to cook tender. Then saute if you like. Or just serve with butter.

Dramaw said...

Goodness you have all that planted already. No one even has their garden tilled in our neighborhood. Most everyone has a small garden of some sort. We just plant tomatoes and squash. We have an apple tree and a pair tree but never do anything do them. hmmmm guess that is why the apples are small and full of black spots! The bees eat then. The pears, well those are squirrel balls. They will knock you in the head with them if you get close to the tree!!! too funny. I got mad at them one year and dropped a tarp under the tree and shook it till that all fell down while shouting at the tree, "now through another damn pear at me"! Onlooker probably didn't know there were pesky critters up there! Have a great day!

H. Stallard said...

I've got lettuce and onions up already and cabbage in the ground and have been eating onions from last year that were missed. As soon as it's dry enough, I'll plant the potatoes that are left over from last years harvest.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Yeah, that Harold. We've enjoyed green garlic all winter. Plus we've got a bunch of hot weather stuff started but we may have to put an oil lamp under the plastic hoop house with it if the temps drop too much this weekend. We've even got sweet corn out, to try for some real early ears. It is protected too. All of it may come to nothing, or we may have cucumbers in early June.

Hey dramaw, if you really needed those apples and pears to eat, it would be a different story with them! We were debating which fungicide we needed to use on all the fruit trees today. Copper is the usual. But silver or chrome are probably less toxic. Fungus is pretty easy to kill, but if you don't, it'll kill trees (we know firsthand).

clairesgarden said...

I hope you have a good growing season for the things you're wanting to grow. and peas, I like them raw.
I really dont understand why people don't even want to try to grow anything. I give spare plants to people and time and again hear how they forgot to plant it out or forgot to water it, I'd be better just adding it to the compost pile and keeping its goodness.

Dan Trabue said...

Redbud salad?! What part do you use and how? Intriguing!

Dramaw said...

Lightening and a chain saw has just about taken care of the red apple tree! I am not much of a farmer. How do you put stuff on the tree to kill the fungus. I don't guess you can dump in on the ground and let it soak into the roots can you. :o( such a city girl sometimes.... I do grow some food though. :o)

the Contrary Goddess said...

redbud flowers are just sprinkled rather decoratively on a salad.

To get rid of fungus, you spray fungicide on the fungus (thus on the tree). You don't want to use it (obviously) near harvest or it will be on the fruit you eat. And you certainly wouldn't want to dump it on the ground. The standard is copper, but others may be more effective at more dilute doses.

As with fire blight -- standard treatment is a rather expensive agrimycin, but terramycin (much cheaper) is (by our research and experience) more effective.

Except don't take our advice, we aren't exceptional orchardists. Always always do your own research. And understand the chemistry.

Fathairybastard said...

I have wonderfil success growing weeds. Tall and healthy.

Karen said...

This is our first year growing our own food something we've been looking forward to for a long time. The potatoes, onions and carotts are in the ground and I have some salad coming up under cloches. But you're right there just aren't enough hours in the day.

the Contrary Goddess said...

excuse me but I'm WRONG! Agrimycin is the same thing as Terramycin so I'm mistaken about something here. But anyway, we sprayed the pear trees with terramycin against the fire blight.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Or maybe not? Confused is more like it. I find reference to agrimycin being oxytetracycline which is what terramycin is, and I find reference to agrimycin being streptomycin. Whatever. Except that these things are rather important. Or can be.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Agrimycin 17 is streptomycin? Agrimycin 200 is oxytetracycline? Am I obsessing?

laura said...

this brought to mind a book we've got called "bear and bunny grow tomatoes"...you are bear, i am bunny!! oh my!! i guess i will have to start with a window garden. suggestions please, gmail me!!

http://www.antiquemallbooks.com/cgi-bin/cdbooks/SK06017.html

laura said...

p.s.
here's what the books about...forgot to put that:

In the story Bear and Bunny decide to each grow a garden of tomatoes. Bunny takes the path of least effort. He takes some seed throws it on the ground and diverts his attention to other matters of fun and relaxation with the expectation of a wonderful garden to come. Bear takes the path of effort. Carefully preparing the soil, planting the seeds, watering and weeding, and standing over his effort with great vigilance. Needless to say, in short time, Bear reaps a healthy harvest of tomatoes and Bunny stands in a forest of weeds wondering what happened.

patsy said...

if they take our corn and soy beans and make gas we wont have the money to buy food and we will starve. most people now eat their meals at burger king or such. you are right world hunger is just around the corner.

the Contrary Goddess said...

the funny (not haha) about making corn into gas is that the only thing it does is use up the gas faster -- ethanol likely has a negative energy ratio. People are so stupid. They think it can just go on forever.

And yes La, grow something somewhere! Organize the apartments into at least providing some space on a first come first served basis for some beds. Etc. Really, we have to grow food, it has to become the norm again.

Ren said...

I've always found a spot to grow things...even if it was tiny. Our apartment had a wee spot of ground just outside the window and we filled it up.

Right now I have more space and less time, but my kitchen is lined with tomatoes I'm protecting from the cold (tomatoes that are sharing space with lettuce, radishes and the like). The buckets aren't easy to move in and out, but it's SO worth it. They're looking beautiful.:)

The Cilantro seems to be doing just fine out in the cold. Need to check the carrots, spinach and onions.

There's always a way to grow your own food. I just need to do a lot more of it. Thanks for the constant inspiration!

Wendy said...

I completely agree with you. We do need to learn to grow our own food ... and forage for food, too! You mentioned fiddleheads. They are a delicacy here in the NE (never heard of them when I was living in the south). They sell them in the grocery stores, seriously. And they grow all over the place. We also have wild blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, and acorns all over the place.

Ironically, we, as a society, are obsessed with food, but few of us actually know from whence our food comes :).

thingfish23 said...

"Really, we have to grow food, it has to become the norm again."

Yep.