Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hot and Bothered...

My 2011 SSE Yearbook (aka "Gardening Porn") arrived two days ago and I have been glued to it (like the addict that I am) ever since! For ANYONE interested in saving seeds and growing rare/heirloom varieties, THIS is the group you need to join. Yes, the annual fee is steep ($40), and the price per request a bit higher than commercially ($4 for small seeds, $5 for large/biennial seeds, $6 for scion and tubers - though members who list seeds get a discount on these prices), but you can find plant varieties here available no where else to the common gardener! Not to mention that you have access to an enormous network of fellow gardeners, all ready to share advice and experiences! And the fact that my personal hero, William Woys Weaver, is a member as well just puts the icing on the parfait! Long story short: this is my very own Mecca.

We've been really financially tight this month due to several factors (mainly illness-related work absences and other things that simply could not be helped), so I when I (hesitantly) asked my husband if there was any way I could mail off my SSE seed request this week (it has to reach headquarters by the 1st of March in order to get filled before April, since they only fill/mail orders once per month), and he gave me the ok, I was happily surprised! Ok, ok, I nearly wet myself with glee. In any case, I was finally able to send off my order for 5 rare and beautiful heirloom pepper varieties (focusing namely on ones provided to SSE by Mr. Weaver), and 1 equally rare and beautiful heirloom tomato variety (also provided to SSE by Mr. Weaver! Do you see a pattern here?).

Because this year we will be using homemade isolation cages to ensure seed purity, I will be able to grow a plethora of heirloom peppers! The main variety that I hope to be able to grow out and share seeds of is the extremely rare Chapeau de Frade. For at least the past two years, SSE is the only one to offer this variety in their yearbook. I'm hoping that in 2012, I can change that! Wish me luck!!

Here's the (newly updated) list of tomatoes and peppers scheduled to be planted in the garden this year:

Chapeau de Frade
Roberto's Cuban Seasoning
Aji Dulce
Aji Limon
Piment de Brasse
Chile Congo de Nicaragua

Gajo de Melon
Orange Flesh Purple Smudge
Applegate Valley Heirloom Tomato
Joya de Oaxaca

Monday, February 21, 2011

Behind the Times...

So, I learned something important these last two weeks:

High Stress Levels+Lack of Sleep+Immense Physical Labor=2 weeks of viral ebola death plague

Needless to say, I've been feeling a bit under the weather.

I managed to sidestep that nasty pneumonia that's been going around, but got stuck with a horrible head cold & wet cough that just hasn't wanted to go away. I'm finally on the upswing, and on the last three days of antibiotic - which is a HUGE relief to me, since it makes me so photosensitive that I can't even spend a half hour in the greenhouse without getting very nauseous and sunburned. Meanest thing you can do to a gardener. Ever.

Still, I am insanely stubborn, and I did manage to transplant nearly all of the onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, oregano, thyme, the remaining artichokes, and lavender starts into 4" pots.

(This is what I look like caught in the act of not obeying the doctor OR my husband):

I got three new germination trays started with clary sage (which began sprouting yesterday!), more leeks, Litchi Tomato, Giant Cape Gooseberry, and an entire germination tray of nothing but Applegate Valley Heirloom Tomato seeds (batches #2-5)! I had forgotten how many seeds I'd saved from those tomatoes! I filled a 72-plug germination tray with about 5-7 seeds per plug, and it was as though I hadn't even TOUCHED the seed packet! I am very thrilled to be growing so many plants of such a beautiful and unique tomato!

I have also decided to grow two varieties of sorghum this year: Tarahumara grain/popping variety, and Mennonite syrup/grain (a great multipurpose one). Ryan and I are always looking for plants that can multitask, and I think sorghum fits the bill! You can grind the grain into a nutritious and gluten-free flour, or use it as a smaller and nutty-tasting popcorn replacement; you can use the stalks of the syrup varieties to make your own type of molasses, and livestock & poultry LOVE sorghum leaves and grain! In short, it's the perfect pancake plant! *grin*

I told my husband that, at this rate, I've already pretty much outgrown my two garden plots, and we haven't even planted the new plot yet!


And to brighten up my somewhat antibiotic/illness-induced funk, there are signs of spring everywhere:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Who Needs A Groundhog, Anyway?

So ol' Phil didn't see his shadow, which means an early spring.

Heck, any farmer worth his salt could have told you THAT! We don't need large rodents, astrological predictions, or the National Weather Service (which I am convinced may be one and the same), to tell what the seasons are going to be like!

Last year, for Southern Oregon at least, we had one of the harshest winters in about 10 years. I knew it was going to be a bad winter well before it hit though! Farmers, by trade, have to pay attention to the plants, the animals, and Ma Nature. Simply by observing the things around them, farmers can tell what the near future holds for the area. In that fall, I remember specifically that the oak trees were the biggest giveaway (especially in a large and early acorn production), followed by the way in which the woodpeckers and squirrels stored up for winter (about double the amount of food that they would usually store, and they started earlier than normal too), and the geese began flying south what seemed quite early in the season. The land, plants, and animals gave other signs as well, but I remember that those were the top three that really made me start to worry. This winter has been relatively mild (in my opinion, anyway), and I had a feeling it was going to be an early, mild spring. We have had about two extra weeks of warm dry weather this year. Normally, around January or February, we get a roughly 2 week warming spell. I remember that it's almost always about the time that I am transplanting bare root fruit trees, and I always begin to worry towards the end of the spell if I am going to have to water my garden before it rains again. Well, this year we had FOUR weeks of warm, dry weather (I know because I keep a daily garden/weather journal), and I DID have to water a few sections of my garden! The plant seeds are already germinating, and I was able to get my peas and fava beans in a few weeks early. I noticed that my arch enemy, the Ground Squirrel, has already woken up from its winter nap and is wreaking cavernous havoc around my backyard. The geese have been flying back quite early, scaring my kittens each afternoon as they fly overhead.
The weather finally appears to be returning to "normal" with rains predicted later this week. I'm intrigued to see how the rest of the season continues, and I hope that we are still due for quite a bit more rain yet...this area certainly needs it!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Getting Organized (Mostly!)

Saturday morning, after some down-and-dirty tractor work in the garden, Ryan and I headed into Medford to pick up my "new" old armoire. It was once used in a Roseburg bed and breakfast (which has since closed down, and the owners have moved to Medford), and was made in the 1940s or 1950s.

It's definitely seen better days, but with some furniture polish and a little creative reinforcing, it's just perfect for my needs!

It even came with the original key (which works, since it still has the original double mortise locks!!!!), which was a HUGE selling point for me.

Yes, I could have found a sturdier armoire for a bit less money, but this one has not only a HISTORY but original hardware (of which - if you'll look around our B&B - I am a huge sucker for).

So, long story short, I LOVE it! My vintage hats, coats, dresses, and shoes just BARELY all fit in there too! I'm still trying to figure out where to place the final four vintage hats, but all of my really nice (and expensive) ones are now safely stored away from moths and marauding packs of kittens. And with the flat top, I can store my extra hat boxes on top of the armoire!

Ryan and I also reorganized our entire basement "apartment" to fit the new armoire, and actually the new arrangement makes everything feel SO much bigger! It's fascinating to me how ADDING a large piece of furniture can make a room feel BIGGER.

On a side note, a similar key as mine is selling for SIXTY dollars on ebay right now!!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Girls' Day Out

My grandmother and I both desperately needed to get away from the farm (and all the related tasks) yesterday, so we decided to go "thrifting." We found some truly wonderful pieces! For Ryan: an antique gold "Linden" alarm clock (marked "West Germany" at the bottom - can anybody say "Cold War?"), & a musical "Happy Hour" canon that holds your booze bottle & shot glasses & plays music whenever you pour drinks!

For my lovely self: a 1960's GORGEOUS royal purple velvet EMMA DOMB gown, a lovely old necklace made with yellow beads (perfectly matching one of my 50's dresses) and lead crystal bead spacers, a set of 50's rhinestone screw-back earrings (not pictured), and a lovely brooch and earrings set of rhinestone birds.

*Happy Sigh*

The Emma Domb dress was 50% off, so I only paid $6!

It has the cutest ribbon train in back.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

It Hugs All the Right Curves...Just Like My Husband!

OK, this is seriously my most loved dress at this point!!! You know how some dresses not only LOOK sexy on you, but make you FEEL fabulous?!? Well, that's this little magic number right here. Purchased it today at my favorite Sally Store for $7 (I felt like such a cheapo when I balked at the price - that's about $4 more than I normally spend! LOL). Classic 1950's cocktail dress. Label reads "Mari for I. Magnin." Back metal zipper. Cute criss-cross decoration in front.

So. Fabulously. Awesome.

(Just like me!)

Ex-boyfriends: EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT!