Thursday, June 10, 2010

Garden Gems

Don't you just love summer fruits? I do, especially berries; they're like little candy jewels from the garden. Mine are just baby berry plants yet, but they yielded a sweet handful. It'll be wonderful when they mature! The Blackberry, though the same age as the Raspberry, has just taken off and is loaded with green fruit. They do very well around here, and I'd better get some bird-netting over it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lately on the Farm

Beauty or beast? Or both? I found this fungus growing near a fence line nestled in a bed of Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper. It measures about 8 inches across and was really quite beautiful. My good camera (with it's good lens) is out of commission right now, so I couldn't get a good close up of this pretty growth.
Another angle showing it's spiral-like structure.Cooper is taking his evening water cooler break and asks if you'd like to see our fancy new hose-holder.This is the redneck version of one of those fancy hose holders. It cost a lot less than the ones advertised in "Front Gate" and works just as well. This is Tennessee, you know. But .... as the song says, "A country boy can survive."Cooper poses with our entire back field watering system. The horses seem to appreciate it, but you won't find it in "Dressage Today" or any such respectable magazine. Probably not even on Craigslist.
Turning now from the watering system, let's go and see how the garden grows. I'm trying mulching this year, and have chosen two different kinds to see what I like best. (Gardening is one big experiment, you know.) The tomato bed is mulched with black, water-permeable fabric, and everything else with straw. When I put down the straw I thought that I will end up either patting myself on the back, or kicking my own backside. As it turns out, I'm doing both - kicking myself for the abundant crop of straw grass that began growing, and congratulating myself because it was incredibly easy getting that grass up and the straw is really keeping the weeds down. Of course, the fabric mat is really the cat's meow.... once you get those holes for the plants cut just right. The drawback to mats is that you can only use it with transplants and not seeds. Of course.

This is a view of the cucumbers (Don't you love the little bird's nest on the cage? I do.), tomato/pea/bean bed, and the pumpkin vines. I took these photos just over 24 hours ago. Since then we've had 2 big rains, and - I kid you not - those pumpkin vines have grown a full foot!!
Another view pulled back a bit from the previous one. Here you can also see the zucchini plants, carrots, peppers, and radishes. In the background on the fence line is the pole bean bed.Max taking the Veggie Garden Promenade.This year I've decided to grow some cooking tomatoes in hopes of putting up my own spaghetti sauce. Goodness knows I get enough oregano and basil, so I might as well throw in tomatoes and go for it. These Romas should do the trick.This is the Cherokee Purple tomato. It was developed and cultivated by the Cherokee Indians in this area, so I figure this one ought to be pretty hardy since it's in its own native environment. It's an heirloom naturally, and is supposed to be quite sweet. A huge storm this evening knocked it over,though, so I hope its root system is okay.Here we have cucumber blossoms and tendril. I just thought it was a pretty picture. There are baby cucumbers, but I couldn't get a good shot of them. The squash also have babies, and the bush and pole beans have begun to produce. I only got two good dinners out of the peas, which was terribly disappointing. Peas love cool weather and we had very, very little spring this year. We literally went from cooold winter to hot, sticky summer - very unusual for us.Banana peppers! This is my first try at growing them. I got the tomatoes, peppers, and some herbs at The Tasteful Garden and have been so pleased. Everything else - beans, spinach, lettuce, cukes, squash, pumpkin, peas - came from seed and have done just fine; but starting tomatoes and peppers from seed indoors is just not working for me. I don't have the right lighting system, and it's just easier buying these vigorous, organically-grown transplants.I think that by Saturday, those peppers will be in a salad, and by Monday we'll be having squash! Gardening is a heck of a lot of work, but the rewards are delicious

Sunday, June 6, 2010

George Washington - The Prophet Speaks of Parties

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one party against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy an the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."

From George Washington's Farewell Address, as found in:
Free Agents: How America Moves from Tea Parties to Real Change
by David Zanotti