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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

of getting side-tracked

It's easy to get side-tracked in any walk of life. There's been a couple of things recently which illustrate this nicely. First of all I have recently received this award, which I was meant to pass on to a deserving recipient. Well, ok I almost forgot about it..., but after much deliberation I have now come up with two deserving blogs to pass this award on to. Both of them go to America, which just goes to show that not everyone in that strange country is humourless and thoughtless. Gives you hope really... Sorry, I didn't mean to alienate all my American readers, but I've had some bad experiences. I know you sensible Americans also exist! Here it goes anyway:

  1. http://subsistencepatternfoodgarden.blogspot.com/. In this blog Mike describes his adventures of living self-sufficiently in northern Idaho. He's clearly keeping his sense of humour despite battling the elements in this northern climate. He even manages to convince his wife to raid the flower bed for edibles, so well done that man!

  2. http://siciliansistersgrow.blogspot.com/. This one I only very recently started following. It is about 2 sisters (according to the blog name of Italian decent?) growing and gathering most of their food needs in California. Again a great read and good tips for the small holder anywhere. They even keep exact count on what they grow over the year, that's what I call efficient!

Do have a look at their blogs, if you are at all interested in alternative living.

The other illustration on getting side-tracked (apart from forgetting to pass on awards) is when you get down to do relatively simple job. Being still hampered by that stupid piece of bamboo in my arm, we have recently got rather behind on a lot of the heavy duty jobs, such as chopping wood, digging over beds, strimming down the bush etc. On Sunday our next door neighbour Marco turned up with an apricot tree he had just dug up from his garden, did Iwant it? Well, yes, even if I think he dug it up a bit early in the winter.

Sunday we didn't have time to plant it. Monday the weather was appalling and we were stuck indoors trying to keep the rain out of our leaking window. Tuesday was glorious again, however we couldn't stick it into the car and take it to the land immediately, because it was far to big and needed to be cut down first. All our gardening tools however, including any secateurs and loppers, are sensibly stored on our land (for those new to my blog, we live 10 km away from our food source). So we decided to go over to the land, digging a hole for the tree as well as doing a couple other jobs, then bring back some loppers to cut the apricot to size.

So on Tuesday Susan started turning the compost, our annual job for the waning moon phase in November, whilst I started digging the hole. Now how long can that take? I found a nice spot, i.e. next to where last winter we felled a majestic but ill cherry tree. A ring of the hollowed out trunk still remained, so I thought I'll just split that quickly into a few logs for fire wood. The first couple of logs split easily, but on the next one my axhead got irretrievably buried. So I got another axhead to get out the first one. That also ate itself into the wood and wouldn't budge.

Not having done a lot less physical work recently due to my injury I also found that my strength wasn't what it used to be and I developed blisters on my hand. Finally after much huffing and puffing, with the help of Susan, an iron bar as leverage, a pick ax and a spade we managed to free the ax heads and chop the wood into bite-size bits.

It was getting time for some lunch and I still hadn't dug my hole! After lunch I passed my recently sown bed which was to contain fennel and celery. I noted with satifaction that the fennel was doing exceptionally well, but needed a bit of weeding, whilst I couldn't see any sign of the celery. I sowed the celery late this year, because last year, when I did sow it in spring, I had loads of celery in the summer. I like celery in soups and stews in the winter though, and by then there was nothing left! So I thought I'll try for a winter crop.

This is what the fennel looks like now (after weeding):

As I looked closer at the row where I sowed the celery, I found there were some tiny seedlings, but that all the weeds around it had contrived to look just like celery. So after going through it with a fine tooth comb (no hoeing here possible!) I did find quite a few seedlings. They were sown at the same time as the fennel, but are a fraction of the size. At this rate, they'll be ready in the summer again...

This all took quite a while again and Susan had gone on to dig over a large bed, which was home to cucumbers, melons, courgettes and tomatoes this year, where we are planning to plant onions next. Finally before it got dark, I managed to get this hole dug (I'd have done it in the dark!) and filled with compost in readiness for the apricot tree, but taking some 5 hours to dig a hole is what you call getting side-tracked.

So today we went back in sometimes lighter, sometimes heavier drizzle and planted this tree. Here it is. I hope it will survive. It still had all it's leaves before it got dug up, but at least it got watered in nicely.

Finally, number 5 in our ever popular series of strangely shaped vegetable: The alien potato:

"ET phone home..."


Jenn said...

beautiful blog! I dream of having the space to grow my own food and attempt self-sufficiency one day!

Ayak said...

Oh I can perfectly understand how easy it is to get sidetracked..it happens to me all the time. At least you remembered what the original task was...I often don't. Good luck with the apricot tree.

Love the ET potato!

Mr. H. said...

Ha! An award, thank you my good man. I greatly appreciate being honored with this most prestigious of awards. But, alas, I must decline this award as I have others due to the fact that I do not accept or give out awards on my blog.

Please do not be offended, but this was something I decided upon at the inception of my blog for a variety of reasons.

I hope this does not take away an award that I do covet..."The Sensible American" award. Truly, we are not all that bad, and humourless...perish the thought.:)

Besides, I believe we have much more in common in our simple ideals, and lifestyles. Something that, to me, is far more valuable than awards and borders.

Anyway, if you are offended please curse me and be done with it so we can continue our gardening and simple living discussions.:)

Good job on getting the tree planted, I wish I could have been there to lend a hand. That is one very strange looking potato, take care it does not hatch...have you seen the movie "Aliens?"

Stefaneener said...

Hey, thanks! We are third-generation Sicilians (on only one side) but we probably consider ourselves Californians first.

You two have so much more land than we do, there's probably no way you could keep track!

thanks for the award. I'm going to go and tell Denise.

Heiko said...

Thanks all for your kind comments. No danger of the ET potato hatching, we've eaten it. Come to think of it, there are some strange rumblings in my tummy...

Mr H, don't worry about the award. I must say, when Ayak gave me this award I was taken a bit by surprise myself. Until very recently I wasn't even aware that awards circulated through blog land. And as you say, it's good to find like-minded people to exchange experiences with. Keep in touch. I wish Idaho wasn't quite so far away, otherwise I would pop over to partake in one of your food experiments!

Stefanie, we don't have all that much land, less than half an acre and all steeply terraced. There are some 100 trees on it, mainly of useful varieties, olives, pears, apples, figs, cherries etc., which leaves only little space for growing veg.

Jenn, thanks for visiting. Ayak, hope you're having a good time in England.

Ruralrose said...

Do you garden all year where you are? No wonder you get sidetracked, the work would never seem to end. I guess you wouldn't have to put up much food either. Peace for all

Heiko said...

Hi Ruralrose. Yes, pretty much. It's olive harvest time next, followed by Persimmons. Weeds never stop growing either...

chaiselongue said...

Your fennel looks great - and so does your blog! We had the same trouble with celery last year. The seedlings seemed to be in suspended animation all winter and then grew in the spring. Like you, we'd prefer to have it in winter to put in soups!

I wish we could pick kilos of olives, but we only have two very small trees in our small garden. I'm very excited about growing even this small number ... which is why I count them. I don't recommend this to you!

Angela said...

Once your apricot tree has settled and grown, it really has a story to tell to the birds! Gutes Gedeihen für alle Eure Pflanzen! It`s fun to read of your efforts and hard work. But it gave me an idea about OUR compost - so it should be turned now? At the waning moon? And I thought garden work was over for the winter time?
Well, I`ll wait for sunshine...

Heiko said...

Hi Angela,
Some people turn their compost twice a year I believe, but I reckon, every season has different bits that go onto the compost. Winter gets orange peel and brassica left overs, spring and autumn lots of grass cuttings, etc. So the balance should be better, leaving it for a whole year. And the thing about the moon phase is of course debatable. I mainly stick to moon phases for planting, pruning and such like, as it breaks up the time. If it happens to be beneficial as well, that would be a bonus. No Italian contadino would dream of even racking their wine at the wrong moon phase!

Anna said...

Hi Heiko,
come stai?
Your apricot tree has remembered me a tree (a pine) that I've planted so many years ago in a forest near passo del faiello. You know, this weekend I will go there to see if it is always there. I'm curious.
Good luck for your tree!
The ET potato is very funny.


Heiko said...

Anna, Where is the Passo del Faiello? Anywhere near us?