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Daily Archives: July 13, 2018
New Moon – Rampion Moon Begins (Cancer Season, Partial Solar Eclipse)
We’ve had almost no rain for a month.
My front yard, with its pink bee balm, purple bellflower, and orange day lilies, is crispy as fuck because I barely water it.
My back yard is doing better, because there’s a hose back there. But we’re not doing super well on the food-production front.
I think I’ll be digging up some of those bell flowers – along with the various sunchokes/as’kebwan’ that Danger Squirrel et familia have re-planted in my raised beds, which I suspect I’ll just ferment from the get-go in multiple jars – to help us save on groceries, because my zucchini and cukes are not really producing (or, if they are, they’re being eaten by the squirrels).
In theory, my potatoes (yukon gold) are getting close to harvest-ready, though I’ll probably let them get a bit bigger, if I can swing it. I’m not sure how to cure potatoes, so I’ll have to look that up.
The fava beans that I grew entirely as a nitrogen-fixing crop are producing beans, so I can harvest those as well, and we can have fava beans on toast or something.
Basically, Ontario’s Yummy Season has arrived. And also my garden isn’t doing a whole lot, beyond giving us some amazing herbs and trying not to die in what I’m pretty sure is actually a drought.
This is where I really, REALLY notice the difference between the perennial plants and the annuals. The perennials – even the crispy-fried flowers out front – are still actually growing, getting bigger, managing to do more than survive out here. The annuals, on the other hands, are straight-up suffering, and they’re getting watered once, usually twice, a day (in the cool of the morning, and again at twilight).
It’s also dawning on me just WHY my neighbour, who gardens very intensively and very successfully (I am in awe of her, tbh), brings in 20+ bags of top soil and manure compost every year.
I’m well aware that my soil is very depleted and, while I did top it up with some manure compost early in the growing season (which helped significantly), it’s not helping enough. My compost heap, itself, is cooking along quite nicely (and is now receiving human hair and toilet paper tubes along with the more typical kitchen waste, because I’d rather feed the ground that’s feeding me than send this stuff to a landfill or even a recycling depot), but it’s not enough to feed the whole garden. Not as it stands right now.
Our garden has mostly given us leafy greens, so far. And many of those have been “weed” greens – dandelion, crow garlic, sow thistle, purslane, lambs’ quarters, and other related plants. This is fine – I let those plants go to seed in our yard on purpose, because they are food plants – but the goal remains to get enough cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and winter squash (along with, maybe, some root crops) from our garden to not have to buy groceries as much as we currently do. And, frankly, we are not making enough big, healthy leafy greens to freeze for winter alongside what we eat day to day with our meals.
You can take a look at this post for a run-down of the various mostly-fermentation-related kitchen things I’ve been up to. I’d originally planned on walking through all of them here, but it was eating a LOT of space, so I made them their own post.
I recently spent a lovely evening out with a friend in Gatineau Park, nattering about all sorts of things, and I wound up lending her Starhawk’s Earth Path and chatting with her about earth based spirituality stuff, and I’m excited for that kind of shop-talk to continue.
I like shop-talk about religious stuff. Especially with other people who tend to be a bit DIY about it. I love chatting about land-connection and animism – figuring out How To Animism, when you were raised in a religion that didn’t have a lot of immanence going on; figuring out how to navigate recognizing the personhood of your food, or the made objects around your house; figuring out how to recognize the overlapping physical and not-so-physical worlds without (a) totally reinventing the wheel, OR (b) appropriating practices from cultures whose traditional animism is considerably more recently-interrupted (or uninterrupted) than your own. All that stuff.
So it was nice to get to do with someone in person. 🙂
Tarot Card Meditation:
It’s Cancer Season, as-you-know-bob, and there was a partial solar eclipse yesterday evening. I have to tell you, we’ve been having a stressful couple of weeks here at House Of Goat, and I was a little nervous about what I was going to pull for my meditation card today.
So it was kind of fantastic to have this card literally leap out of the deck for me.
Maya is card eight-and-a-half, one of the Silicon Dawn’s bonus/weirdo cards. Egypt’s write-up says that this card is the “bastard child of The Devil and the High Priestess”. All the things you’re afraid to meet in the underworld (or your own unconscious mind). All the things you want but aren’t supposed to. What are you trying to tell yourself? What would be fulfilling, pleasurable, connecting right now?
I seriously feel like this was basically “Oh my gawd! Don’t be so gloomy all the time! It’s the weekend! It’s summer! You’re going on a road trip and know how to make your own booze! Have a fucking party for once!”
This message dovetails pretty nicely with Chani’s horoscope for Scorpio right now, with its reminder to choose that which stirs my soul, lifts my spirits, and gives me a reason to keep pushing through the hard parts.
And they – Chani and Maya, both – are right. Freaking out isn’t going to solve any problems. And I am going on a road trip (or, well, a day-trip, but still). Heart palpitations about money, and emails to send to the minister of education, will still be there on Monday. I get to have fun, spend some time with my wife, visit my friends and my in-town-for-48-hours brother, eat ice cream and drink home-made wine.
Let this weekend be something beautiful, restorative, and good.
Thanks, tarot cards. ❤
Movement: Lots of walking, and a small amount of yard-work in someone else’s yard, but that’s about it.
Attention: I have to admit, a LOT of my attention is on the sky right now. Will it rain? At last? Will it not? :-\ Fingers crossed!
Gratitude: Grateful for reprieves. For a break in the heat (a bit). For the hope of rain, even if it hasn’t fallen yet. For friends who send money, treat us to meals out, drop off spare food, pass on hand-me-downs and boots-to-good-homes, or otherwise help us make ends meet, and make life feel like it can still be something more than austerity-all-the-time, when things are hard. For friends who listen and help us keep some focus when we’re freaking out, too. Grateful for pink and purple and blue and orange and yellow flowers. For bumble bees in the morning sun. For coffee with my wife on the steps. For a borrowed car and the chance to get out of the city for a day. For summer warmth and sunshine. For new library books. For reminders to pay attention to the pleasurable, the holy, and the joyful.
Inspiration: Resilient weedy greens. Flowers that bloom despite the sun that’s kind of frying them to a crisp. (I know. They’re blooming all the harder for it, and I know why. Don’t spoil my happy though, ‘kay?) Also finding inspiration on other people’s blogs, folks who are canning, fermenting, making salsa and wine out of excess rhubarb, or dying fibre using red cabbage, onion skins, hibiscus flowers, and the soaking water from black beans… and also using koolade and vinegar, because that works, too.
Creation: A little bit of knitting. Some clothing repairs. Writing a few thousand words on my “spite fic” of an attempt at a YA novel. A couple of new poems. Nothing huge, but things are in the works. 😉
Fermentation Elation – A Productive Home Post
So! Erica, over at NWedible, is doing a Productive Home Weekly Report thing, and has invited people to chime in with their own productivity reports.
I’m… not totally fussed about tracking productivity. It feels a bit like giving myself a performance review. BUT, if I think of it as an opportunity to brag about the awesome-fun-cool stuff I’ve been doing/planting/harvesting/cooking/baking/canning/fermenting/etc chez moi that I’m really excited about… it gets a whole lot easier.
So here we go.
There’s been almost no rain for the past month, which is not a great situation. The garden is looking pretty crispy, even in the back yard where I’ve been watering every day. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that my soil is depleted enough that it needs some major-by-my-standards remediation. Meaning that – when the heat breaks, and provided I’ve got a spare $20 kicking around – I’m going to try seeding the non-garden parts of the yard with white clover in an effort to at least get some nitrogen back into the ground.
But, for now, I’m relying on my garden for herbs, greens (mostly “weed” greens), and rhubarb. Which is about as productive as it’s able to be right now.
As seen in earlier posts, I’ve been out collecting service berries (see below), as well as wild greens that don’t grow in my yard. But most of the productivity at our home is happening inside the house.
Inside the house, things are going quite well:
Earlier today, I blanched a bunch of grocery store zucchini (there are another 8 or so in the fridge yet to do) and put them in the freezer, in a silicone muffin tray. I also froze (on a cookie sheet) the last of the service berries, and transferred the latest batch of my fermented wild greens (a litre and a half!) to the fridge, in mason jars. Oh, and I re-bottled the cider that I started fermenting at Winter Solstice.
I put it back in the plastic jug, with a little more bread yeast and some maple syrup for food, to do a technically-third ferment, because it turned out VERY dry and VERY still, and I wanted something fizzier and a little bit sweeter to bring to my mom’s tonight.
Which, I guess, brings me to: I’ve been making booze.
Cider, see above, but also I started a batch of honey-wine a couple of weeks ago, just after Summer Solstice (as seems quite appropriate) and, while it’s a little more ginger-y and a lot less service-berry-y and rose-petal-y than I had been aiming for, it does smell like something I would actually want to drink. So I’m calling it a win. (Here’s hoping it still smells that good after it’s had six months to age in the back of the fridge). I also made ginger beer, which is marvelously fizzy, and which I’ve been drinking heaps of in the hopes of scaring off the sore throat I woke up with this morning. (Seriously… My body’s been kind of a weird barometer these past few months, so I’m hoping this is due to a major pressure change in the night, and not to me getting sick, and that we’re actually going to get some solid, steady rain. Which we badly need!)
I’m thinking I’m going to try making rhubarb country wine – maybe even rhubarb-chokecherry country wine – in another couple of weeks, around Lammas. My goal is to put up a bunch of tasty drinks that I can serve at my Winter Solstice party at the end of the year. 😉
In other fermentation news (apparently this is A Thing in my house, now): I’ve made two batches of sour dough bread. I’m still working out the slightly trial-and-error (in my case) process of figuring out how long to cook the stuff, but I’m thinking that third time will be the charm, and cooking it for about an hour and a half should result in some good, tasty, fully-cooked bread that is also easy to cut with a normal bread knife. (I over-baked it and ended up with a very thick crust which, sure, my wife thinks is great, but which I find tricky to do for stuff like sandwiches).
Right now? Right now, I’m preparing to do my first experiment in home-dyeing.
I’ve got black beans (which, in theory, will give me a nice blue) soaking on the counter and, on a shelf, I’ve got an old plastic ice cream bucket filled with a mix of water, vinegar, and shredded aluminum foil, in which I am soaking a cotton crop top that I’d like to make bluer than it currently is. (Currently, it’s a kind of faded, greenish pastel turquoise which, while okay, is not ideal).
In theory (in theory) the vinegar will leach some of the aluminum into the water and will mordant the cotton (the vinegar doesn’t really work as a colour fixative for plant fibres, though, I need to use salt for that) so that it will better take up the eventual dye, giving me both a more even AND deeper colour of blue. No idea if it’ll work, but it’s (probably) not going to hurt, so I’m giving it a go.
Oh. And I’m knitting a tank top. This is old news, but I’m starting to do the cabling (for shaping) and am knitting in the round and, while it doesn’t look like a shirt (or even a tube) just yet, it’s much closer to being a shirt than it was even ten days ago, so I’m happy about that.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
Posted in productive home
Tagged economics of food, fermentation, gardening, gleaning, local food, productive home, progress reports, state of the garden