Saturday, August 30, 2008

Organic

Things are looking overgrown in the community garden, at least in my plot.
The people directly south of me have such a tidy garden. I didn't take photos of it because the comparison is very unflattering to my plot. They actually have little paths between their rows. I have to take giant steps over sprawling vegetation to walk through my plants.

I have a photoset on Flickr that shows the garden at various stages since spring. It's stunning just how much life can burst forth in a few short months.

Overall I am pleased with how we did. Most of what we planted produced plentifully. We had radishes and lettuce early on, and we are still harvesting zucchini, green beans, broccoli, and tomatoes. Less successful was the watermelon plant, which withered away to nothing shortly after sprouting. We got only one cucumber before that whole plant dried up. Our tomatoes have produced a fair amount, but the plants themselves haven't looked very hearty. Not sure what's up with that. And the carrots never came up. I think maybe I was too impatient and accidentally weeded them, not recognizing them as carrots. I should have remembered The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, and perhaps I would have been rewarded as handsomely as the boy in that story.

It's been nice to eat organic vegetables we grew ourselves, but wow, it would take a much larger garden to keep our family fed for an entire year! I have never had a garden this large before, and when we started out in May I thought maybe we'd have enough yield to freeze for eating in the winter, but since mid July it's only been producing enough for us to have vegetables about once a week. It's hard to imagine an existence where my very life would depend on tending a garden that would have to be so much larger.

On one trip to the garden, my daughter played around with the camera and had a nice capture of a butterfly in action:

I feel vaguely guilty that I don't visit the Farmer's Market more often. I should be supporting local farms and eating as much organic produce as possible. I have bad luck at the market, though. I had an unpleasant run-in with a vendor there once, who vaguely insulted my children when they weren't even misbehaving. ("I don't know how you can stand that!" she said irritably to me as they entertained themselves by hanging on my legs. "I would have such a headache by now!" Grump.) I always find bugs and worms in produce I get at the market as well. Is this common for market produce, or is it just me? I realize that organic means no pesticide, but yeeech, I do not like to see squirmy living things in my food. A year or so ago I bought some broccoli, only to discover at home that it was completely covered with little green bugs, the exact color of the broccoli, all clinging to the underside of the florets. Blech.

My neighbor went to the market today to buy corn, and since she was there late, the vendor gave her twice what she needed for the same price, so she shared some ears with us. (Note to my kids: if you are reading this, please stop now. Okay? Just stop. You don't need to know this story. Trust me.) As I shucked the corn for our dinner, little worms oozed out all over the place. I had that spine-tingling, get-me-outta-here feeling, so I made my husband finish the job. He flicked all the worms into the sink, but I think he went a little wild with it because later I was finding worms all over the counter. Shudder. I put the de-wormed corn into the pot with water and set it on the stove. When I came back later to see if it had come to a boil yet, I found this little guy seeking his escape:
Gah! I think he was the last one, though, as no one bit into a boiled worm during dinner. Thankfully!

This is slightly off tangent, but all this talk of bugs and worms reminds me of fruit flies, and I've been meaning to share my simple remedy for getting rid of fruit flies. Fill a small glass bowl with about one inch of apple cider vinegar. Add a drop or two of dish soap (lemon scent works best, but other scents work, too). Leave this on your counter. The fruit flies are drawn to it, and they will drown in the vinegar. I have noticed this will not work with plastic bowls, or bowls that are large and deep. The bowl that works best for me is a little 8 or 10 oz custard cup. Also, you must use apple cider vinegar, as regular vinegar will not work.

3 comments:

Lynn said...

Oh, come on, bugs are just extra protein!!

I'll have to try the fruit fly trap! We have a real problem with them now.

Hey, can you use pears? They are dropping of the trees here. Come over and get some!

Tricia said...

I've gotten a box of organic produce every week (20ish wks per year) for 7 years now, and I supplement that with fruits and veggies as needed. I don't buy exclusively organic for my supplements (very few organic fruit sellers, for example). So this is my experience.

The only thing that regularly has "extra protein" is the broccoli and the corn. Honestly, I can't imagine how one could grow broccoli withOUT bugs - kind of scary to imagine how much pesticides that would take! But even then, the heads I get only have a few caterpillars each. (Last year I put one in a bug jar with some broccoli and let it build a chrysalis - it hatched in our kitchen this year before the weather was warm enough to let it go outside!)

But I digress. I read somewhere to soak the broccoli in salt water - the caterpillars will die and fall off. Seems to work - although the last head I had, 1 managed to survive and then died in the cooking process. [yeah, ick, but they don't bother me quite as much these days after I read "Man Eating Bugs" ]

With corn from our CSA, the ear worms show up more frequently as the season goes on. I've learned how to recognize which ears are likely to have them (I can recognize the 'entry hole' in the husks). And it varies by year. There was one year, a few years back, when we were getting LOTS of corn every week, and by the end of the season, I was dreading having to husk it. The worms would escape and I'd find them in the kitchen hours later. But now, I'm pretty good at just cutting that part off the ear with a knife (maybe stabbing the worm at some point) and dropping it in the compost container. We haven't gotten much corn from our CSA this year - I think it's been a bad year for corn all around, with the dry July and August. But I would expect that if the corn were stressed from the weather, it would be more suspectible to bugs. That might explain what you experienced last weekend. Or else all the earlier customers picked over the buggy corn, leaving it for your neighbor! :^o

Tricia said...

p.s. thanks for the fruit fly trick. I've tried that before with little success. Maybe I was using plastic containers. And not using the dish soap. What has been working for us lately is leaving a tiny bit of red wine in a wine bottle - that narrow opening seems to help keep them from escaping! But we don't drink wine all that often, so it's not really a sustainable solution for us.