Daily Archives: August 9, 2015

Full Moon – Raspberry Moon Crests (and Fades): Lammas Edition

Hi folks.
So I’ve been putting this off for about a week, but I’ve been enjoying a day of handicrafts and gardening, and now I have a few minutes, I figured I’d rather be blogging than catching up on the last of my data entry work (big surprise), so – partially in the name of procrastination – I’m blogging.
 
Raspberry Moon – blue moon that it was – has crested and is well on its way out, as we head towards Apple Moon (and, yes, there are already apples – sweet ones, and crabs – ripe and ready for picking around town, so the name definitely fits). I’ve been harvesting raspberries off the bushes in the alley a few times, and it’s still producing (thank you, Everbearing Varieties…) although it’ll probably be mostly done a month from now.
 
I’m getting lots of chard, still a fair bit of kale, and heaps of lovely, tiny tomatoes from my garden. Less-so the zucchini or winter squash, alas, and no cucumbers to speak of. My neighbour – who is a hell of a prolific gardening – gave me a bag of them in exchange for a few branches worth of mustard seed come October, but that’s all we’ve got. (Good thing I wanted to make dilly beans this year, instead of pickled cukes, isn’t it?) Sadly, my plan to find out how much I could cultivate in two 4’x8’x1′ raised beds is… turning out to be Not That Much[1].
At least not this year. (I’m definitely learning a thing or two, though, which will hopefully help me out when I’m getting the garden ready for next year).
 
As far as all of the “is this gonna work out” stuff that I mentioned back at the beginning of this lunar cycle… Things are still up in the air, to a degree, but they’re looking pretty goo from this angle. (We’ll see how/if things settle in September, mind you). My wife is set up enough in her new shop that she can do production, so she’s cranking things out like there’s no tomorrow – partly because: Self Employment, but also because she’s got things she needs to get caught up on for people. So that seems to be going well. My casual-hours job is ticking along nicely, and I hope they continue to be happy with my work. We shall see, since the next batch of it is due tomorrow around lunch time. Things are still kind of up in the air for our girlfriend, but at least her girl is home and safe, and they’ve started Phase One of setting up house together, which is good.
 
The past two weeks ahve beena big learning curve for me. I did a tarot reading just after Lammas, to see what’s up and what’s coming next, and what I came up with was a lot of Fire cards – some sort of big, transformative breakthrough-type-thing[2] having to do with passion, creativity, and/or personal power. Not sure which it is (although I have Theories, especially given the past week or so), but given how intertwined those things are for me, it could be All Of The Above.
 
Hopefully time will tell, and I’ll have good things to show for it, no matter what. 🙂
 
Onwards to Apple Moon!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 
 
[1] Although I’d hazard a good $120+ worth of food, so far, and that’s a conservative estimate – If I can keep that up for another 4 months – iffy, but possible – I’ll have “grown back” the cost of the soil I planted my food in… It still doesn’t cover the cost of the plant starts, but it’s a LOT closer than I was expecting, given the lack of cucumbers and zucchini, and the unlikelihood of winter squash, going on.
 
[2] Okay, less a “Break through” and more an intense but slightly slower process of moving from one set of attitudes to another… Not a lightning bolt of understanding, but a “getting the hang of things” situation where I leave behind some messed up thinking/feeeeeeeelings and move towards a more secure headspace. Or something.

Lammas 2015 NON-Pictorial Garden Update

Yeah, I didn’t take pictures this time.
 
Or, rather, I’ve got a shot of my one yellow zucchini (or crook-neck – whatever summer squash I managed to dig in there), but that’s about it. It’s a lovely zucchini. It finished ripening indoors,though, and now that it’s a lovely deep-mustardy colour, I think it’s ready to be thinly sliced and sautteed with a boat worth of butter and a lot of our cherry tomatoes.
The sad thing is that there’s a good chance it’ll be our only one.
 
I know, right? Only one zucchini??? How is that even possible?
 
Oh, let me tell you: It’s possible.
 
I’m resigning myself to a very limitted squash-family harvest this year. I read, long before I actually planted anything, that squash plants need a good 18″-24″ of soil to dig their roots into if they’re going to get strong and do their vining, prolifically-fruiting thing. My garden beds are one 12″ deep.
So maybe it’s not surprising that they’re not doing so well.
Still, I live in hope and check my blossoms for any that look like turning into fruit. Next year, I’ll be ammending my raised beds – and adding extra depth to them, so that stuff like squash and our valient rhubarb can really get their roots dug in well.
 
At least I’m doing well (ish) in the tomato department. I pulled about 45 tomatoes off the vines today. No, yes, they are miniature tomatoes. But that’s fine by me. While I’d have been happier to be pulling in 30 full-sized sauce tomatoes (as opposed to half a dozen frequently-on-the-small-side sauce tomatoes) every other day, I’ll take what I can manage.
 
My chard is looking beautiful – a bit of a relief, I don’t mind telling you – and I’ll have to go out and give it all a hair cut again in the next 24 hours, and put up another big bouquet or two in the freezer. (That’s one thing I’m reasonably sure we won’t run out of – the chard should stick around until Hallowe’en, maybe a tiny bit longer, but the kale will probably hold out into December, and that’s not counting the stuff I’ve put in the freezer).
 
I’ve decided to just “go with the flow” on the garden, this year, and go ahead a buy tomatoes and beans and such-like to preserve for the winter. I’ll be getting 20lbs of tomatoes about two weeks from now (along with a couple of pounds of nectarines, from the farmer’s market), and I’ve already preserved three cups worth of beans (some from the garden, most from the farmer’s market) as mustard-garlic-tumeric pickles, plus made Goblin Fruit Jam from some wild-harvested choke cherries (and black currants left over from last year). At least my vegetable garden will keep us in fresh veggies over the summer (and, by the looks of things, into the fall), plus provide lots of frozen greens for the winter time. That’s a lot, even if it’s not as much as I was hoping for.
 
Beyond that, while most of the beebalm and all of the daylilies and columbines are done, my front garden is chock full of Mystery Plant and borrage and morning glories and nasturtiums and wild (and invasive) creeping bell flower[1]. I would love to get some mallow flowers, black (or dark purple) hollyhocks, cornflowers, scilla, and black tulips in there next year (or this fall, as the case may be), but for now, I’m enjoying my heavy-on-the-pink garden and the bees that it brings my way[2].
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 
 
[1]Although apparently you can eat the roots, young shoots, and leaves of this plant. It’s the “rampion” of Rapunzel fame, if you were wondering. 🙂 Aparently the roots actually taste a bit more like a nutty radish than onions or ramps (and the leaves allegedly taste a bit like peas?), but who knows? I guess there’s one way for me to find out. 😉
 
[2] My milkweed brings all the bees to the yard // And they’re like: It’s better than yours // Damn right, it’s better than yours // I could teach you, but I’d have to charge…

The year of the Pig – Part 3: Building a Routine

So, eight million years ago, Calamity Jane (from Apron Stringz) wrote a post about The Incredible Power of Habit. It’s coming to mind frequently these days, as I seem to forever be trying to get myself back into the swing of things.
 
I made bread this morning. After a week or two of seasonally-typical (so 35C+ and very humid) weather, the temperatures dropped back into very-easily-bearable range and it no-longer feels like torture to consider turning on the stove, never mind the oven. But it takes so little time to get out of the habit of doing something. Baking bread is one thing. Cooking dinners is, to some extent, another[1], although you do eventually have to eat, so.
 
In my case, the main difficulty with having ordered the majority of my year’s animal flesh all in one go? Is remembering to thaw it out. Building “Thaw out this Friday’s roast, in a bowl in the fridge, starting on Tuesday” into the routine of my week has so far proven to be a bit difficult. You wouldn’t think it would be. How hard is it to haul a 4lb chunk of shoulder or ham roast out of the deep freeze, chuck it (paper wrapper and all) into a mixing bowl, and set it in the bottom of the fridge where I can forget about it for a few days? And yet I’m still not up to speed on how long it actually takes four pounds of muscle to go from rock-hard-and-iced-over to raw-and-ready-for-the-oven.
 
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a house where we routinely let meat thaw at room temperature, in the sink[2] (and also routinely at chicken legs or pork chops rather than shoulder roasts, but that’s a different story), but I forget that something that’s been in a super-cold chest freezer, one that only gets opened about once a week, if that, is going to take considerably longer to thaw out that something that’s been living in the fridge-top freezer, which gets opened any time someone (i.e.: me) wants berries or ice cream or frozen greens… And it’ll take even longer if I do the thawing at 10C rather than 21C (or 35C, if we’re talking right now).
 
All-of-which is just excuses, of course.
Tomorrow starts a new week and, if I make a point of being on the ball about it, I will haul a 4lb roast out of the deep freeze[3], set it in a mixing bowl in the bottom of my fridge, and let it do its thing (conveniently making it a little easier to keep my fridge cool at the same time).
 
Fingers crossed.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] I think we ate out about three times in the past ten days, and made nachos for dinner one night – as in: we opened up a bag of tortilla chips and sprinkled sliced tomatoes and cheddar cheese, plus the last jar of my 2014 tomato-peach salsa (just in time to make more for this year – not bad on that timing), and then broiled it for 10 minutes. Not exactly a “meal”, but it worked for what we needed and cost about 1/10th of what it would have run us at a pub (plus we didn’t buy beer or anything, so actually less than that. But whatever.
 
[2] You’ll all note that I did, in fact, manage to survive to adulthood in spite of this mode of opperation.
 
[3] Easier to do, at least, now that I’ve sorted the large cuts from the smaller ones (pork chops and ground), and the meat from the leaf lard & bones. I put everything into cloth bags and loaded it all back into the freezer. It takes up more space that way – which is annoying – but at least I don’t have to dig through layers of body parts trying to find the one I want, while wearing oven mitts against the burning cold.