Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekly Garden Report (week ending 3/20)

My Daddy's motto:

 "Plan your work, and work your plan."

Daddy's motto, illustrated.

A garden on paper isn't very tasty, though, so Farmer Henry has been hard at work devising a strategy to keep my impatience at bay. 

He has put in a variety of lettuce and tomato plants in the plots to which they were assigned....

... and he has begun the process of growing from seed a whole bunch of other stuff. There are no photographs of those things, because they aren't very photogenic.

But this is. 

Hey! Every garden needs some Rosemary!

But I digress.

Just to make me happy, Farmer Henry has also planted some mint for my tea in an old planter....

...and he also broke down and agreed to plant asparagus, although it'll be at least a couple years before we are able to harvest any. By then it'll probably be going for $12.98 a pound at the grocery, though, so get in line early.

There's also a lonely little eggplant plant out there. I neglected to take a photograph of it somehow, so maybe this'll hold you until I remember to do so next time!

Thumbs up, indeed!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Garden Report - Week of March 13

This past week was an interesting one around here. Rain and other stuff kept work on the garden from proceeding apace, but somebody has made up for some lost time. Evidently he had time to ponder on many things while he was on imposed vacation.

Farmer Henry, none the worse for wear.

Let's see....  I think I told you that he is going to do square foot gardening this year. I don't have a real firm grasp on what this means. Even hearing the words "square feet" gives me flashbacks of the unpleasant sort to every mathematics classroom I ever entered.  What I do know is that it involves separating different sections of the garden area he has already prepared using frames. This would require a trip to the lumber yard or garden center for lots of folks, but you already know Henry's not going to take the easy way out, right?

We have an overgrowth of bamboo that we like to pretend isn't there most of the time. We don't have to look at it often, since it doesn't really do anything but hide a clear view of our backyard from the street. This is a good thing.

I see this stuff as bane of our existence.
Henry sees it as building material and
future fishin' poles for Rosemary.

After Henry was released from the heretofore mentioned imposed vacation, he set about hackin' down some of this bamboo. Then he cranked up his power tools, and went to work.  Here's what happens when he gets left alone by his wife for a while, and has nothing but time on his hands. 

Plotting things out.

The first four areas for the square foot garden plan.
Each bed will contain groups of companion plants, including
those designed to keep pests at bay.

No manmade materials were used to construct the bed borders.
Last week's garden report mentioned Henry's amazing compost pile, and we have been fielding requests to show that that looks like, exactly. By popular request, here 'tis!

When Henry tilled the garden, he worked in virtually all the yield in the compost pile. What you see here is mostly grass clippings from his having cut the yard a week or so ago. We keep an old Folger's coffee canister near the kitchen sink and all cast off produce, egg shells, coffee grounds, and tea bags, go into it. That gets dumped in when it's full, and there's a handy pitchfork that even I have used on occasion (okay, once) to work it all in good. Nothing around this house goes to waste if Farmer Henry gets his way.

I offer this as proof:

Even the sticks from my beloved Mayfield Banana Popsicles are called into service~

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Garden 2011

It's time to start documenting Henry's 2011 Garden!

He pulled out his tiller earlier this week, and began the process of turning up the plot where last year's garden grew. He's expanded it a bit this year -- the garden "proper" is about 18' x 22' and there is a new addition this year of a little space for an herb garden as well.  

Work in progress

The herb garden is the marked off area.

Henry is very serious about his dirt. 

The dirt at the top, with no compost worked in.
The dirt at the bottom, with fully incorporated compost.
Pretty, huh?

He was so proud to show me the big payoff for keeping that blasted old coffee can on the kitchen counter, where we discard vegetable and fruit matter (and coffee grounds, and egg shells, and tea bags). It all goes out to his compost pile, and "cooks" there until he has need for it. If you do this right -- and he does -- there are no flies and no odor. Neatest part is that it really means that there is virtually no guilt if I forget I had something in the veggie bin, because it will not go to waste.

Henry goes through the whole plot on his hands and knees to pull out stones and rocks .
This is what you call a labor of love. 

Planting has not commenced yet. Today has brought a whole lot of rain, and he says he'll probably need to let the garden plot dry out at least a bit before he puts anything in there.

I got a peek at the seed packets, and here's what's planned: carrots, several varieties of tomatoes, squash, watermelon, okra (from pods from last year's garden!), various and sundry kinds of beans, and cucumbers. The herb garden will feature parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, and, if I can find some -- a few varieties of mint. We'll also have lots of marigolds and sunflowers.

He is also working on adding some boards to attract wild bees to the garden. We had some nice bee activity last year, but more would be a good thing. We'll see how that pans out. 

Click on pictures to enlarge~

Friday, March 4, 2011

Time In My Hands

In 1968 Dr. Kenneth Cooper wrote a book called Aerobics. It was a groundbreaking concept, this aerobics thing. Cooper couldn't understand why big old strong guys weren't any good at sports that required endurance of any sort (distance running, cycling, etc.), until he hit on the notion that it was a person's ability to use oxygen efficiently that enabled them to perform well at those tasks.

From this revelation was the phenomenon of jogging born.

My father, who was described by his mother as a "sickly child," was struck by Cooper's ideas, and combining this information with some inspiration from the then very active career of Green Bay Packers' quarterback Bart Starr (local boy made real good), Daddy slipped on some sneakers and shorts and began jogging in 1969 at the age of 42.

It will seem very funny to folks much younger than I that at that time normal grown-up Joes didn't do exercise. They might play tennis with their buddies, or swing a golf club, or take a couple laps in a pool somewhere, but regular, daily, all by yourself with nobody watching stuff?  Nope, not so much.

Daddy was quite an oddity, that's for sure, but I was always pretty proud of him without really understanding why. I just knew my Daddy did something that none of my friends' daddies did, and that he could beat any of 'em in a footrace.

He put up his running shoes many years later. He can't remember now exactly when, or why, but he certainly wouldn't have done it lightly. I know his knees began to argue with him some, and that there were other things going on in his life that began to require more of his time and attention. Whatever the reason, all those years of being, virtually, the lone runner served him well through his recuperation from a stroke and colon cancer. He tackled recovery from those challenges exactly the same way he tackled that whole running thing -- thoughtfully, and with the same fierce self-competitive mindset he had used when he first measured his runs with this stopwatch in 1969:

That's my hand holding the stopwatch.

After protracted negotiations, he relinquished it to me yesterday (on loan, of course) to use in my own training. The resolution to our back and forth was announced to me by my Mother, in this e-mail: 


I needed a new challenge, and for me that means I need something quantifiable to look at, some tangible way to compete against myself. I think using the word spreadsheet may have tipped the scales in my favor.

 I am not a runner. I am a walker who enjoys doing some intervals, and I wanted this stopwatch to separate out my jogging/running minutes from my walking minutes. My ultimate goal is to bring in a sub-13 minute walk/run pace for the half-marathon in October 2011.  

I've never hit the sub-13 minute mark.

Until this morning. 

With Daddy's stopwatch in my hand.

And these words in my heart.....

Plan your work, and work your plan.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Thank you, Daddy.