Hey! Randy

Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

Wild Things With Eyes

Posted by heyrandy on January 4, 2012

I have feral potatoes. A few years ago I bought some blue potatoes. I was planting spuds, and when I bought seed potatoes at the local supply store I saw the blue ones. I bought a few to plant. I usually buy Yukon Golds, but a few blues would be a nice color combination.

The blues produced as potatoes are wont to do. I could not tell any difference in the taste from a regular potato. A few of the blues were left over and forgotten. When spring came I found the left over blues. They had all sprouted long roots out of their eyes. What to do? I did not want to just toss them on the compost pile. They were too shrunken to eat and too small to use as ammunition. I decided to plant them around the house. Decorative tubers: the next big trend.

They all sprouted. I left them alone. They said thanks, I think. I don’t speak any of the spud dialects, but I could see it in their eyes. When fall came I did not dig them up. I want to see what would happen. I did not hear if they said anything. Potatoes, I have learned, are a quiet bunch when you can’t see their eyes.

I am going to let them all grow without control. Think of it as a return to nature. It will be every potato for itself. Unless they form gangs. I am hoping that free range potatoes will soon make it into the expensive section of the produce aisle at the nation’s grocery stores. I have to recover my investment. I will know I have been successful when I see factory produced potato products with “Made with free-range-like potatoes” on the label. When this happens, those blues will be gold.

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As the Garden Goes

Posted by heyrandy on June 9, 2008

My garden is on the move.  No, I am not relocating it to another plot of ground.  It would certainly do better somewhere else, but that is not going to happen.

I shared some plants with someone else.  Last week after the evening  worship service at my church, a couple we know invited us to their newly purchased house. They had just moved in the previous week, and we were the first family they had over.

As they showed us around, we went into the backyard.  I noticed some chives growing in a little area beside the wall.  I pointed out the plant, and they said that they thought that the plant could be chives but were not sure.  A quick smell and taste test confirmed that they were indeed chives and not belladonna.

They also had some mint.  My mint, a gift, I assume, of a providential wind which blew in a seed, was once quite prolific and widespread through out my yard.  I even helped the matter by trying to establish it in the lawn, but the seeds never sprouted.  My goal was to at least get a pleasant smell when I mowed the lawn.

The mint is now all gone.  Mint usually is quite invasive; if you don’t keep it in check, it spreads everywhere.  I had hoped to establish at least one area with a lot of mint plants.  It is a testimony to my gardening prowess that I can not even get mint to take root.

Later in the week I began to think that there was something missing from their garden.  Then it occurred to me:  oregano!  Yes, oregano.  That favorite of Italian cooking.  The essential herb that without which I am not sure what would happen.  But they had to have oregano.  Not just oregano, but they had to have too much excessive oregano.

This was a job for me.

A couple of years ago we bought from a local big box home parts store a small pot of oregano. The store was one that sells lots of things that you think you could actually install and make work for almost less that twice what a professional would charge to do it.  Transplanting the oregano didn’t appear to be too difficult.  Besides, the store offered professional installation services. I figured if I couldn’t get the job done, I would call in the cavalry.  (I forgot John Wayne was already dead.)

The oregano has spread where the mint didn’t fear me enough to go.  The plant reseeds itself easily and has spread to the front yard.  Some may even be on its way back to Italy.  (You never know about foreigners.)  Since the plant has passed the “Hey! Randy can’t kill it, so it must be easy to grow” test, it was an ideal give away.  (It was also free, which made it THE ideal give away.)

Giving away oregano was not a new experience.  Last year I gave some to my pastor for his garden.  His yard is not as big as mine, but he does a better job of gardening.  His success with the oregano was assured.  His wife later told me how wonderful the stuff is when you run the leaves through a blender to release all of the oils: you get a lot of flavor.

Saturday I dug up some of my front yard supply, and put it in to an old plastic pot.  This pot still had the label from the store where we bought the original oregano.  It may have been the original pot.  As the day passed, I thought that the plants were too few.  If they were to have too much excessive oregano, a more drastic measure was needed.

I got the big shovel and went to the backyard, to the scene of the original plant.  I dug out a shovel full and put it into a large pot.  This pot had no sticker.  I do not know if it was the original of anything.  I watered the pot and set it by the car.  All I had to do was wait for Sunday morning.  Time was on my side; the trap was set!

Transporting the plant encountered a difficulty.  While it is not a yet felony to possess, store, use, traffic in, buy, sell, own, rent, or mortgage oregano, nor is it heavily taxed (a rarity in New York state), there was to be a dinner after the morning worship service on this particular Sunday.  This meant that the car trunk would be filled with various containers of comestibles.  The oregano would feel at home among friends.  This would reduce plant stress, but the ride would be crowded.  However, since nothing in the trunk spoke Italian, if the plant were to complain, it would not be understood.

After the dinner, I gave the plant (and pot) to the wife in question.  I explained that there may be some dandelions in the pot, but that she should not worry: I don’t charge extra.

Many people spray their lawns to get rid of the dandelions, but I am not that type.  You can eat the dandelions, so they are not dangerous.  They also do a good job of covering where the weeds won’t grow.  Besides, I have always thought it silly to pay to get rid of lawn problems when you can give them away.

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In the Garden It Grows

Posted by heyrandy on June 5, 2008

I planted a garden this year.  I have done this in previous years, but last year I gave up and did not plant anything.  But the weeds did alright.

Planting a garden in a suburban backyard is not usually a big deal, but it is in my yard.  My soil is lously: it is heavy with clay.  This is about as bad as it can be.  I have tried to remedy the problem by adding organic matter, i.e., my yearly crop of mostly maple tree leaves.  I have some tall, old maples that produce an abundance of leaves.  This does not seem to have much helped.

My backyard is also heavly shaded.  It is those maple trees.  They both help and hurt the garden effort.  I am not about to have the trees cut down: I keep the dog tied to one of them.

I really don’t have a lot of space, but I don’t have a lot of enthusasim for the whole garden gambit.  I admit I am a bit lazy when it comes to gardening.  I would like to spend more time and money on the project, but I am usually short of both.  So the garden just grows by itself once I have done the preleminary work.

I would not have bothered to do anything this year in the garden, but a woman in my church asked if I would like some heirloom tomato seeds.  It seems that she bought too many different kinds.  Those seed catalogues can be dangerously seductive.  I said, “Yes,” and I started on another yearly effort at the unlikely to be successful endeavor of The Garden.

I started the seeds in Styrofoam cups.  I was going to buy those peat pots they sell to start seeds, but I just never got to the store.  Besides, the Styrofoam cups were here, and that meant that they were free, my kind of price!

The seeds eventually sprouted, and I transplanted them to the garden patch I had prepared.  I had to dig out the weeds.  With the wet clay soil and the tangled roots of the weeds it was not an easy task, but we gardeners are tough.  I persevered.  (It is the Calvinist in me! Remember, this site is also about Reformed theology.)

I had also thinned out the chives.  I had inherited some of these and had bough some others.  Over the years they just kept growing and spreading.  We have eaten some of them, but we usually ignore them.  If you can’t grow anything else, try chives.  They keep on coming back.  I mow them in the fall during my last mowing of the year, and they come back afresh in the spring.

I also planted some potatoes.  I wanted to plant some of those Yukon Gold variety, but the store I went to said that they transfered all their seed potatoes to another store because they potatoes were not selling at my local store.  I then went to the grocery stores and tried to find Yukon Gold, but both stores did not carry them.  I settled for Russets.

I bought two potatoes.  I chose the ones with the most eyes.  You just have to cut out the eyes and plant that piece, so it did not make any sense to buy a lot of potatoes.  (Did I tell you I was cheap?)

I learned this from my uncle.  He was a really serious gardener. (I don’t know if he was cheap.)  His garden was the size of my entire yard, front and rear plus both sides.

Now I just have to wait.  I am the only one in the house that will eat fresh tomatoes.  This means more for me, if we get any.

The potatoes are enjoyed by everyone.  In the past the crop has been a small number of small potatoes, but the real fun was that they produced anything.  This is the real joy of gardening.

Since I am growing only tomatoes, potatoes, and chives, I do not have to put up the fence to keep out the wildlife.  Potato greens are poisonous, and the the animals do not like the tomatoes.  The chives give them bad breath.

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