Categories
Garden Local Food Politics

First Spade of Soil

Belgian Lettuce Patch - 2017
Belgian Lettuce Patch – 2017

I turned the first spade of garden soil Saturday.

In a couple of hours I removed cages, stakes and last year’s brush from the cherry tomato patch, turned over and broke up the soil, planted six kinds of lettuce, and posted the afternoon’s highlights on social media:

First spade of dirt turned; chives, walking onions, spring flowers up; lilacs, apple trees and pears budding (a lot); Caracas early carrots (57 days) planted; six kinds of lettuce (Wildfire mix, Ridgeline Romaine, Edox Butterhead, Red Salad Bowl, Australian Yellowleaf and Sanguine Ameliore) planted in the ground. I got out the mower to clear the brush from a small patch of garden because it was too windy to burn. It’s March 4 and spring has sprung.

First Spade
First Spade

Taking soil from one of the sunken containers I mixed a bag of leftover soil mix from last year with it in a green cart. I refilled the container and planted carrots, covering them with straw from the tomato patch. I poured a bucket of water into the container through the straw. It felt good to get into our garden.

Buds of apple blossoms appeared in abundance. If they bloom normally and pollinate it will be a bumper crop. The arrival of pollinators and timing of the last frost will be crucial. Fingers crossed everything goes well. Last year’s apple crop was virtually non-existent. We are due for a good one.

Lettuce Seeds
Lettuce Seeds

February was the warmest on record in Iowa. The frost was out of the soil and the green up will not be long. It is very early to be doing much in the yard and garden.

About 20 people gathered in our nearby town to chat over beverages and hors d’oeuvres with Congressman Dave Loebsack. For some it was the first time to meet personally with a U.S. congressman. The event lasted an hour and a local organizer took notes and discussed a plan of political action with the many young people in attendance. I listened with some members of my own cohort (older folks table) and snapped a couple of photos.

Coffee with Our Congressman
Coffee with Our Congressman

The main group discussion was about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and plans for the new administration to repeal and replace it. A bill is being crafted in the U.S. House of Representatives, but Loebsack hasn’t seen it even though he is on the committee that will eventually consider it. It rots to be in the minority for this and many other reasons.

Loebsack has been targeted by Republicans for the 2018 election.

“President Donald Trump’s 10-point win in Iowa in the 2016 election is emboldening the Republican Party to take on the state’s lone Democratic congressman,” according to the Quad-City Times.

Loebsack has been targeted since his 2006 election. We don’t assume re-election is in the bag and will have to see how the campaign rolls out. Already there are third party negative ads about Dave and a lot of work needs doing to retain the seat.

We turned the first spade of political soil yesterday as well.

Categories
Garden

Winter Gardening

Workbench in Late Winter
Workbench in Late Winter

Chives, lettuce and garlic are up in the garden, beckoning my presence.

On yesterday’s last day of winter I spent a couple of hours burying four large plastic tubs for an experiment in carrot growing. 18-inches deep, I filled them with compost. After settling overnight, they will be re-filled and planted with four varieties of carrot seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds: Yaya F1 OG (hybrid early carrots) Bolero F1 (hybrid storage carrots); Purple 68 F1 (hybrid specialty carrots); and Laguna F1 OG (hybrid main crop carrots).

I have enough seeds to plant a spring and fall crop.

Carrot Containers
Carrot Container

Anyone who has planted carrots is familiar with the main challenge: providing deep, loose soil for the roots to grow. Last year’s crop was a moderate success in the ground, but I didn’t dig the bed deep and it showed. Over the winter I read about growing carrots in containers. Since I had the tubs, there wasn’t much additional work to cut drainage holes and place them in line 10-12 inches deep.

With rainfall, the new soil may settle. Judging from the locust tree roots I cut to make the holes, there is plenty of soil moisture, although a higher percentage of clay a foot deep. It’s an experiment. We’ll see how it goes.

Raised Beds Next to Compost Bins
Raised Beds Next to Compost Bins

Today’s garden task is to consolidate and blend the remaining compost. There are two bins and a pile of decomposed apple pomace and horse manure. There is plenty to build soil in most of the garden plots.

Categories
Cooking

Zucchini Juice

Zucchini
Zucchini

LAKE MACBRIDEā€” In a quest to use the bountiful zucchini, I found a juice recipe. Zucchini juice? Before you click on the next page in your reader, hear me out. The apple harvest is beginning to come in, and they are also basic part of juicing recipes. Organic carrots were on sale at the mega market, as they often are, and they are another essential part of juicing. Put the three together, run them through a juicer, and the result is a sweet juice that immediately creates a boost of energy. The zucchini flavor is masked by the sweetness of the carrots and apples. Mmmmm.

I know what some readers are going to say, that vegetables should be eaten in the form nature presents them, and not highly processed. They have a point. The rationale is that if the zucchini and carrot are fed through the juicer first, the fiber can be used as a cooking ingredient, especially in soup. Too, there is an abundance of apples and zucchini, and a glass of juice in the morning gets the digestive tract moving, if you know what I mean.

Undecided whether this is the next new thing, or a pit of hopeless and despairing zucchini abundance, all there is to do is recommend readers try it and decide for yourselves. I’ll be having a few more glasses before the season is over.