Friday, October 30, 2009

The Winter garden 2009

Donkey doo. I love it. It is the basis of all things green and lovely in our garden. Donkeys set out special place to poop, so there are nice manure piles in every paddock. It makes it easy to pick up and compost.
Here you can see the garden is finally doing something. The trellises have five different kinds of peas planted--golden peas, sutton's harbinger, green arrow, purple podded and little marvel, though they are still small. They are waiting for the cool weather to take off. The mass of green on the far right are carrot beds over planted with radishes. The miserable-looking plants in the foreground are the beets. They have not thrived. I was very please to go to another farm and see their beets suffering as well. I think beets don't really like Florida. I even limed them like you are supposed to when I planted the seeds. The beds to the far far left are newly seeded. Over all we have radishes, parsnips, beets, carrots, turnips, collards, kale, bok choy, pak choy, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, arugula, spinach, swiss chard, daikons, onions, elephant garlic and peas planted. A very nice garden I am starting to be proud of.

Here are some radish pickles I made the other day. The one on the left is sliced radish roots in a brine with onion. They are plum purple radishes, cherry belle, french breakfast, munchen beir and mitsatastu rose radishes. The greenish one on the right is a salted mixture of chopped radish leaves and grated daikon. Yum! I was so excited about winter pickles!

Prickly Pear Season

Our easiest crop! The cactus is finally doing something nice, as you can see, although even the fruits are rather unfriendly. You have to carefully peel or scrape all the little spines off the outside before they are edible, or risk having tiny spines stuck in the back of your throat--no fun.

The scary thing about the cactus out at the farm is that we could see it on google earth. Yes, it really is so bad that it is visible from space.

Rose is already an expert at de-spining prickly pears.

Pumpkin patch

It's just past Halloween and here's the rogue pumpkin patch in the old pig pen. This squash is one that spontaneously grew from the seeds of one we had tossed to the pigs. It is some weird hybrid of the many squashes we grew this past summer. From looking at the fruits I'm thinking it is a Ronde de Nice crossed with a Thelma Sander's Sweet Potato pumpkin.

Who knows, it could be a Seminole pumpkin/Cocozelle Italian zucchini cross. Anyway, the fruit are apple green with light streaks and have a graceful ribbed and slightly pointed shape. Very lovely and striking fruit. The leaves have silver splashes. The taste is also superb, very sweet when raw and fine-textured almost buttery when cooked. We've been really enjoying them, but I am now trying to keep some to save the seeds.

I am going to try to plant them next summer and de-hybridize them by roguing the off-type plants. After generations they can be open pollinated again, and with luck we could create our own plant breed. The Forbes Family Favorite squash perhaps???

It's nearly Thanksgiving...

And the turkeys are getting big. We discoverd one female, at least, so we will keep her and Sulaymon of course. They are such funny creatures. their heads are so wierd and wrinkly and their snoods grow and shrink according to mood. Also we've noticed that their heads change color. If they are resting their heads are white. If they get excited they blush to red. When they are flirting and dancing and raking their wings gallently they turn various shades of blue with the most beautiful periwinkle purple around the eyes.

I have to agree with Ben Franklin--the turkey would have been a much nicer national bird. They are red, white and blue, after all:

"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

"With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country . . .

"I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."

They remind me of a dignified bunch of old-fashioned and stuffy men with sparse long beards and high collars. They have a clumsy dignity about them. They are also very funny. Whenever there is a loud noise they all gobble in unison.