Sunday, December 29, 2019

December's Garden (2019)

This month began with freezing cold winds and snow which followed the devastating one-day temperature drop from 75 to 26 degrees (F). This caused my garden to lose over 60% of the seedlings.  All of that following a summer of drought, caused me to give up. I closed up the hoop houses, walked away and bought my fresh vegetables at the grocery store. This is all that is left of the bed of assorted unknowns (saved seeds tossed together and recklessly broadcast).  

A few times I walked out to the garden and raised the hoop house cover and tried to harvest something.  

Two weeks ago the weather changed - it warmed up to the 40s, then the 50s and now at the end of the month, it is in the 60s. When everything was opened yesterday, imagine my shock when I discovered the remaining plants had thrived. There was still a garden out there and it is alive!  Finally, after a few rough months, there is something successful to share.

Below on the left side is the row of assorted unknowns that held full-grown plants when the sudden temperature drop hit - almost all died.  The row to the right had just been planted a month earlier and were still seedlings. The row to the far left back going toward the shed held sprouting seedlings and all died except for those at the distant end.  The hoop house has been rolled up and only covers what survived.

This is the same area exactly two months ago on October 28th.  

October 28, 2019
The area in front of the dead lemongrass plant held the weird plants. The Green Mountain Winter Celtuce was allowed to go to seed and it appears some were dropped. In spite of the horrible weather, or maybe because of it, the seeds have sprouted and are growing.  They should have been started fifty days before the last frost or the end of August, according to the instructions from the seed company. They may or may not form the large stems this late but I can still use the lettuce leaves. My plan is to put a cover over some of them to see if it makes a difference.

The lettuces grew quickly and are about to be devoured. 

The Yellow Heart Winter Choy is turning yellow in the center, as it should and is looking good.  The outer leaves will be snipped and eaten but the main stalk will be left to see how it survives my winter.  Only one is left so all my testing must be done with it.

Cascade Glaze, Collard Green has finally lived up to the seed catalog's claim that bugs don't like the shiny leaves. In the spring, every aphid, flea beetle or chewing bug for miles around wanted it for dinner.  Evidently, it is best to grow it in cold weather when there are no bugs. 

Green in the Snow, Serifon, Mustard, was advertised as being both cold and hot weather tolerant.  It has a mild mustard flavor, not pungent and it is doing quite well.  The true test will be its performance in the dead of winter.  Being named "Green in the Snow" is a high standard.  So far, I like it.

Purple Lady Bok Choy is a beautiful color, looks and tastes great in a salad but turns an ugly dark color when sauteed.

Tsa Tsai, Round Stem Mustard took a hard hit from the first frost and is slowly recovering.  The stem can be eaten along with the greens; although none have been harvested yet.

Another success is this little group of Machlong, Mache.  Getting these seeds to germinate has been difficult over the years for me and other gardening friends.  

China Choy was grown from one of my last remaining seeds, only one survived and I can't find it for sale anywhere anymore. Hopefully, it will survive until it bolts so the seeds can be saved.

Most of the Scarlet Kale (left) and Blue Curled Kale (right) survived but they are growing slowly.  The fast-growing Chinese vegetables did the best this month although most won't make it through my winters.  It seems a vast variety is best.

It is great to have something growing even though earlier I didn't think there would be any fresh vegetables this winter.  Planting many different varieties at various stages of growth saved me.  Starting plants at the right time is critical, except I can't figure that out, nor repeat the pattern the next year - nothing is constant. Continuing to plod along seems to be my best option.

Additional Links

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Last Show of the Year

It is the end of my working season and this year the last show was a dance recital performed by one of my favorite studios.  Dustin worked the camera (and chauffeured me the long distance) while I sold videos in the lobby.  My job is quite unusual and I share all about it here. My Job, An Introduction 

Usually, we work the venues south of Nashville and let the other crews take the northern locations; however, even though this one is 70 miles north from my home, I always ask to work it. It is a night of celebration, partying, and excitement.  Everyone, no matter their age or skill level is encouraged to join the fun, learn a new step, and dance the night away.

During the past months, everyone worked diligently to master new steps.  At the performance, they were tested, presented awards and were applauded by their family and friends.  Then the lights were turned low and the magic began.

It isn't the usual recital: the studio focuses on ballroom dancing for (mostly) adults.  Two of the ladies who danced this evening were over 75 years old.  (That is not gossip - I heard it straight from their mouths.  Not that I would ever be caught gossiping  - I know better than to get caught.)  

Twice a year, on this special night, each lady becomes Cinderella at the royal ball. Fairey Godmothers style their hair and each one sparkles in a beautiful gown.  It is their dream come true. 


Over the years, I have come to know many of them as they stop to chat before waltzing on stage.  They are real women who lead real lives and have chosen to pursue a dream no matter the obstacles.  I am always inspired by their passion and perseverance.


This year a famous entertainer graced us with his presence.  As is common with live performances, something goes wrong.  He had difficulty wearing his solid gold, diamond-encrusted, million-dollar belt.  Everyone was attaching safety pins to avoid an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction when he gyrated on stage.  Life is always exciting in the lobby.

"Thank you, thank you vurry much."

As soon as his fan club discovered Elvis was in the building, both of them went wild.

Not everyone performed since it was an abbreviated show - next June's recital will be much larger. They are already making plans for fancier costumes and more elaborate routines. It was a popular topic of discussion in the lobby and I was an eager eavesdropper. That is one show I will not be missing.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Horses Have Left

Back during the heat of the summer the trainer who pastures his herd of broodmares on our property began taking them to his barn without bringing more back.  He said he will bring the young ones when they are old enough to leave their mothers.  

He would show up with a trailer and a crew then try to catch whichever ones were due to deliver next.  It never was easy.  The ladies would take one look at the harnesses and gallop away into the woods.

Next came a wild, yelling, chasing whirlwind as the crew tried to drive them to the front corner of the field.

The horses never tired but seemed to find it entertaining - it was a different story for the humans.  Their exhaustion was obvious.

Eventually, the herd would be cornered beside the watering trough.

Then they would be carefully driven into a makeshift corral.

Those they weren't after would be released back into the field so halters could be slipped on the desired ones.

After a few exhausting failures, they wised up and brought a four-wheeler.  The horses didn't have a chance.  Combustion engine vs. contest.

Now, the last two horses have left.

It is quiet outside again.  No sudden thundering stampedes, loud neighs or crushing footsteps behind me.  I miss seeing them moving through the windows and observing their different personalities.  My fields will be empty for a little while so the land can recover from being overgrazed.  However, we are already looking forward to more surprises in the future.

Additional Links:
Introducing Our New Roommates
The Stork Paid Us a Visit
The Stork Returns for Another Visit
The Last Straw...Hat!