Sunday, May 31, 2020

May's Garden (2020)

We are exhausted but the whole garden is almost planted.  Seeing the grocery stores empty was a big motivator.   It is already producing more food than we can eat and with lockdown lifted, I have finally been able to share with others.

The horrible armadillos have returned and have begun destroying the garden. Since they slip in late at night under cover of darkness from the woods, we have installed a short chicken wire fence around the back half of the garden.  If they figure it out and begin entering through the front area, we will add it all the way around.  It isn't fancy but is necessary.

We love white sugar beets and never have enough so the whole first row will be dedicated to them.  Last year this was the first hoop house row and these were planted in the fall.  We are harvesting the biggest ones now.

Finding seeds was almost impossible this year due to everyone else also panicked by the empty grocery stores and starting gardens (wise decisions).  I did find one company selling sugar beets with a 40% germination rate (my rate was 30%).  To avoid wasting any of the precious seeds, each was marked.  Never before have I had any success collecting sugar beet seeds but two have bolted.  Maybe I will get seeds!

The beans in the second row are just beginning to sprout.  Egyptian Walking Onions, Elephant Garlic plus one bolting Scarlett Kale are all that is left from the second winter hoop house.  Collecting seeds this year has become a priority.

This row has onions on the outside, Chinese turnips in the center front and Red Detroit beets in the far back.

The onions are Texas Super Sweet.

White Tokinashi and Hida Beni Red turnips have been a fantastic surprise.  About half were ready in 40 days like the seed catalog bragged. The rest are still growing. Their flavor is mild, nothing like regular turnips (which I dislike). The red is a bit stronger than the white but both can be eaten raw in salads. When the last of these are picked in a few days, more will be planted.  Both varieties are going on the list of "must-have."

More unsprouted beans and Egyptian Walking Onions in the far back.

Drum roll please...look at these potatoes!  I have managed to grow large potato vines, don't know if there are potatoes underneath yet,  but look at those vines!  Wow!  Will this be the first year ever that I have a successful crop of potatoes? We'll see.

"Assorted unknowns" are on the left and "assorted knowns" are on the right.  They are either must-have favorites or those about which I'm still undecided.  Everybody deserves more than one chance.

Both Katsuona Mustard and Giant Leaf Chinese Mustard do not taste anything like Southern Mustard greens but are mild flavored.  The Chinese Giant Leaf Mustard is supposed to get 3 feet by 1 and 1/2 feet wide but is already bolting.  

Tsa tsai Round is a mustard variety that forms a bump at the base of the stem which can be eaten along with the large leaves. Supposedly the bulbs form differently according to when you plant them.  I'm still experimenting with this one.

At the far end by the field is one row of tomatoes.  

To squeeze as much out of my garden as possible this year, lettuce was planted between and in front of every tomato plant. 

We cut the long strip of fencing that was rolled into a scroll last year and made this wild-looking arch. Exactly how it will be used is still undecided.

The rest of the fencing will be used to support tomatoes in front of the woods.  It is in shade in the morning and early afternoon even though tomatoes like full sun. Rotating a garden is important but this was the best I could arrange because it is also necessary to have a safe shot from the back deck (in the middle of the night) when armadillos are shredding your garden.

So far, I am way ahead of schedule this year.  Being locked down with nowhere to go and no job has made a big difference.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Locked Down No More! Columbia, Tennessee

We are free! The Chinese Coronavirus lockdown has been lifted for my area of Tennessee!  We celebrated by taking a drive to see if there was any life outside of our world.  First stop, Dollar General Store where we found the shelves stocked with a package of toilet paper; since it is back, the crisis must be over.

We drove around looking for anything opened and ended up in Columbia, Tennessee. Many businesses have not reopened but Ted's Sporting Goods was doing a brisk business. 

The sign is always upside down.

Around the corner was a grand opening of a "non-essential" store so it was "essential" for us to go shopping.

There was nothing in this store I needed but everything I wanted. Why would any brainless, government bureaucrat consider this business "non-essential?"  Wandering around was so refreshing.  Everyone social distanced and was careful to not get close.  


Columbia is the mule capital of the world and every year they celebrate at the Mule Day festival, which, of course, was canceled this year. City folk might be laughing but that is only because they haven't known any mules personally.  They are intelligent animals who work harder than many of my previous co-workers.

After blowing all of my allowance, we stopped by the home of James K. Polk, 11th U.S. President who was from Columbia.  

It had not reopened yet. 

It is time for the world to start revolving again. Mom is in the assisted living facility in Nashville and is still locked down. She is bored but it is the safest place for her. Two of my dearest friends have caught the virus and I'm concerned.  It isn't something anyone would want to catch. Will it return in the Fall?  Probably.  But now the doctors know better how to treat it and are discovering more each day; hopefully, by then, they will have a cure.

As for me, on our first day out, I did what I have been wanting to do for three months - I went to Walmart and got a hair cut!  Try not to scream when you see the before picture.


Afterward, I think I look like a bank robber.

After - Bank Robber

Friday, May 15, 2020

Today's Blooms, May 15, 2020

Having a garden while being locked down due to the Chinese Coronavirus has been a blessing.  Living in an apartment would have driven me crazy.

Since my job has been canceled for now and because there is nowhere fun to go, I have spent this month in the flower bed and the vegetable garden.  

Scooter, who has been my constant companion, stays on high alert to chase away any bird that might fly over his territory.

This is where Bill and I spend our evenings.  We have adapted to being locked down and may never leave.  This is the new normal.

Today's Blooms, March 15, 2020