Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

The Garden Chronicles


It is almost February and I am down to my last garden cabbage.  A nice firm one.  What can you do with one red cabbage?

The winter squash supply has dwindled but my vast store of potatoes and onions should hold-up until planting time.  Everything else has been canned, frozen or already consumed.  My thoughts are now turning to spring planting.

But first - here are the box scores from last year's garden ranked in order of results from excellent to failure.

Excellent - Green beans, peas, onions, potatoes, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, romaine, cukes/pickles, squashes and rhubarb.  Apples too. 

Apples seem to run better in odd-numbered years so we'll see how things play out for 2010.  I want my 53 readers to know that the burns resulting from the September applesauce detonation have healed nicely leaving only a minimal scar to show for my efforts.

The Cascade hops on the rock wall figured prominently in the manufacturing of the 2009 Deer Camp Beer.  I see nothing but continued progress in brewing.

Entering its third growing season I'm looking forward to picking my first asparagus this spring.

Good - Carrots, pumpkins, mixed decorative gourds, and cantaloupe.

Fair - Tomatoes, beets, leaf lettuce and watermelons.

Fail - The Swiss chard never thrived.   The Brussels sprouts didn't sprout until January and they were teensy, tiny sprouts.  Why I cannot succeed with green peppers is a mystery.  The  sweet corn was magnificent right up to the moment the raccoons raided it. 

My Jung Seed Company catalog has Post-it® stickers all over and scribbling in the margins.  Checking my notes  from last year's garden I'll likely stick with basically the same crops although there are some things that I'll probably do differently.

First-off, I'm done with sweet corn.  My neighbors tell me that I have been living a blissfully naive existence for a number of years and unless I'm willing to invest in an electric fence or wage an all-out scorched earth war upon the resident raccoon population that I should simply purchase my sweet corn from Pierre the farmer.  Having reflected upon that advice I think I shall grow decorative corn instead.

The patty pan squash and broccoli made their first appearance last year and are returning by popular demand.  I was still cutting broccoli right up to early December! 

I'm also going to keep trying on the Brussels sprouts. 

Over the years I have come to learn that I have more success with the Candy Hybrid onion.  Sure, the Texas Super Sweet or Walla Wallas are OK but the Candys produce softball-sized sweet onions with a good shelf life. 

I'm thinking of adding a third potato variety to  the mix.  I'm still undecided - yet thinking about possibly a designer spud.  Maybe a fingerling.  

My wife wants me to try sweet potatoes but I don't believe we're in an appropriate zone.  She's pumped-up about the possibility of fancy gourds and specialty pumpkins.  Something she can sell out the back of the truck.

Cabbages were also introduced last year and having had success with the laundry room sauerkraut I'm going to grow them again.  I might even attempt a Chinese cabbage for stir-fry.  I am also going to invest in a proper kraut crock from the Fatherland.

Swiss chard will return and I just might add kale and collard greens too.  I skipped scallions last year so they might be due for a return.

I need a long stretch of hot weather - sunny hot days and sultry summer nights - to really kick start the tomatoes.  All of last year's cool weather was fine for broccoli and fall lettuce but it does nothing for tomatoes. 

Finally, this might be the year I get (hubba,hubba) a drip irrigation system.

Stay tuned...

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