Gardening season is winding down. We almost had frost Saturday morning. Almost. It has been such a warm autumn, frost is late in coming. This has allowed me and James some extra time to make repairs to the chicken coop roof, and for me to harvest one small zucchini from the garden. Just when I had given up on them, the heatwaves backed off and we got a little more rain and then one of the three stunted, but still alive plants, finally produced a female flower. All summer they have been blooming only male flowers.
Now the race is on for two small pumpkins. The pumpkins also had only been producing male flowers and suddenly two small pumpkins have emerged. These are a new (to me) variety I have not grown before called Dickinson. They are supposed to be large—8 pounds or more—tan, with a thick skin, which would make them good winter storage pumpkins that I would not have to puree and freeze immediately. They allegedly make good pie. One of the pumpkins is currently still a deep green, the other is yellow-green trying to ripen to tan. Both are only about 3 pounds. Will they make it to ripe? Fingers crossed!
In spite of the drought, the amaranth did fantastic and I didn’t even directly seed it. It all pretty much came up from seeds dropped from last year’s plants. I managed to harvest about half a cup of grain last year. This year I will get much more than that, enough to actually try and pop/puff instead of toss in with one morning’s breakfast oatmeal. Hopefully it will be something fun to add to salads and other things.
I know y’all have been wondering about how my sexy blue corn turned out. I had 24 cornstalks. In spring a good many were attacked by the Dread Pirate Rabbit and I thought they were goners. But corn, being a grass, turned out to be more resilient that I expected. The stalks recovered and, while not growing to great heights, did tassel and produce ears.
And as those small ears developed on all the stalks, the squirrels began sampling. The squirrels took no prisoners. They destroyed close to half of the cornstalks. I fought back by putting nylon stockings on the corn after the tassels turned brown and were done with their pollinating. All went well. The corn got bigger, the squirrels left it alone, and I dreamed of a meal of Mexican street corn with enough corn leftover to dry and make into flour for my very own tortillas. There wouldn’t be enough flour for very many tortillas, but that was beside the point.
While I dreamed, the squirrels watched, planned, and bidded their time. Were they listening on the Saturday I told James, the corn is ready to pick to make elote? Did they hear James say he was not prepared to make it for dinner that night? Did they giggle with glee to hear me say, that’s ok, I’ll pick it tomorrow for dinner?
James and I went out Sunday morning for a great bike ride. We came home, showered, had lunch. I went out to the garden to pick the corn. There was one cornstalk left standing. All the rest had been broken and the corn stripped. I found nylon stockings all over the garden under trees and shrubs. And beside the stockings, shreds of corn husks.
Undefeated, James valiantly made elote from two small ears of corn the squirrels had not yet eaten. As I enjoyed the deliciousness, I vowed never to grow corn again. Ever. I told James that in 3-4 years I am going to say, let’s try growing corn again! His job is to say, Stef, absolutely not. Remember the blue corn? Because I can easily override James on all things garden, I have also been telling friends to remind me about the blue corn. And now I am telling you. I am depending on y’all to say, in 3 or 4 years when I mention I am going to try growing corn again, Stef, remember the blue corn.
For next year’s garden I am going all in on garlic and potatoes. I didn’t grow any garlic this year. I don’t remember why, but I am glad because it would have added to my stress from the heat and drought. Next year might still be hot, but there will not likely be a drought. So I have planted a pound of German garlic, a big bulbed porcelain hardneck variety sourced from a local farm, and a quarter pound of Spanish roja, a spicy red rocambole hardneck variety I bought online from Pinetree Gardens. The garlic bed is currently covered by row cover fabric to keep the chickens from digging in it. And once the trees are done dropping their leaves, the garlic will have a nice thick layer to keep them safe through the winter.
Speaking of chickens, the Nuggets continue to grow. They no longer peep, but they don’t quite have their big girl voices yet. They are in between peep and cluck. The sound is kind of honking—clonking? Sia’s bouffant is looking fine. Lucy is turning out to be chill like our Margaret was. And Ethel with her feathered feet, looks, as James observed, like she is running around in her bedroom slippers.
And while the Nuggets are not exactly integrated with the Dashwoods, I have seen Mrs. Dashwood hanging out with them. And Sia and Lucy will walk up and stand near Elinor. Ethel, on the other hand, continues to remain terrified of Elinor. Obviously Elinor is top chicken and Ethel is on the bottom of the pecking order. Still, when they are all out in the garden, I have seen them busy with their chicken business within two feet of each other instead of as far away as they can get. Progress, bit by bit.
If only progress could be made on global warming. COP26 is only a couple weeks away and so much is happening and not happening. As Greta Thunberg said at the Youth4Climate conference in Milan earlier this week, it’s been “thirty years of blah, blah blah.”
Even Queen Elizabeth is frustrated. She was caught on mic the other day complaining how world leaders talk, but they don’t do anything. It would have been really awesome if she’d said blah, blah, blah but I suppose that wouldn’t be very Queen-like. Her remarks make it seem likely that the Royal family, who accepted a petition with 100,000 signatures the other day, might actually rewild Royal land. Wouldn’t that be something?
Sadly, in the United States, Biden is revising climate spending plans after the @#&^%$ Joe Manchin, declared he would not vote for it. So once again, the U.S. is going crap on our responsibility to avoid an even more dire climate crisis than the one we are currently in. Tom Dispatch has a good article explaining that unless the U.S. and China can mutually agree, and actually follow through, on reducing carbon emissions, we can forget about keeping global temperature rise under 2C.
So increasingly it is looking like COP26 will be more blah, blah, blah. A card from my Effin Birds postcard book sums it up nicely: