Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Seeds of the Future

Once again, I have dropped the thread of this blog, as the realities of a little homestead overtake me (okay - maybe a “stead-ette”). I’m tempted to follow the last post with more of the same - as I watch this harvest season so full of reaping the whirlwind. But I’m gonna stick closer to home; after all, I have more than enough of my own gaffes to work with. And if my retirement savings has now dwindled to the point that they are planning to shoot it around the center of the Large Hadron Collider, at least I have a freezer-full of badly preserved food to live on.

As the garden begins to wind down (which means the tomatoes, peppers, melons and eggplants sudden take notice of the weather and start blossoming, like a ne‘er do well child who at 54 decides to become a doctor, teasing his poor mother, breaking her heart), I am now into the seed saving phase. I am learning to recognize when seeds are ready to be gathered: about a day before I find those brown exploded husks on the ground by the dead plant. So far the only seeds I’ve been able to capture are the ones too big to get away, like beans and peas, and the ones that are so prolific as to be weeds, like calendula, marigold and lettuce. Not to say that I will be able to keep them over the winter (a jar of pea pods has turned black with mold -- if only I could find a mold-processing service who needs my harvesting skills!), but this is all part of my first year farming course: City Rube 101. Last week I celebrated the year anniversary of signing off on the counter offer to this place, and told myself how far I’d come from the days when I was driving down here, on the sly, before the deal was sealed, to mow the waist-high weeds and paint the eroded window sills before the rains started. Now I have waist-high buggy vegetables, and the window sills (and everything else!) on the main house are painted and snug - see the before/after photos (I think you can tell the difference). I did, as planned, treat myself to having contractors do the porch and the painting, and I am very happy with the results! Only 765 more projects to go!

Today I’m gonna keep this short, since I have 3 bags of bug-infested windfall apples to surgically prepare for cider, another quart or so of berries to preserve somehow (I might try berry-stuffed cabbage rolls) and the summer clothes to get up into the attic (finally bought a step ladder, a vast improvement over the knotted rope.) More later.