Saturday, January 24, 2009

Presidential Concerns

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ten degrees above zero here on the mountain and a growing wind blows small birds sideways as they land on the feeders. Flocks of evening grosbeaks and blue jays swap back and forth on the platform feeder, trying to maintain dominance which is short lived. Birds have a self defense mechanism that triggers when there's movement close by--all birds that is but mourning doves which seem to have steadfast courage not to fly until the last end. Last week I almost put the truck in the ditch waiting until the last minute for a small flock of sand eating doves to move out of the road. They flew and none got nailed but it was a last minute affair. I tried out a few expletives as I continued on.

Been very busy lately and can't get everything done that needs doing. My hand is coming along nicely thank you. I tried it out snow shoveling the roof yesterday. I brought that event to an incomplete conclusion when I got four feet around the edge shoveled off. My hand was hurting and I have been well advised to go slowly. I left the rest of the snow on Gail's mother's place for another day. At least now the icicles won't grow.

I don't know how many of you do your own websites but I'm sure you're tired of me mentioning ours. You'll probably enjoy it when it's done but boy does it take time. To complicate things Gail has the house laid out with IRS materials and I am about ready to start the taxes. Taxes are not my favorite sport and it's amazing to me that I have to spend so much time getting things ready to give to an accountant who charges too much to finish the deal. Where did that presidential candidate go who said he would get rid of the IRS?

Yesterday as I listened to the news, I chuckled as a new stop-the-war president approved a drone in Pakistan and got hammered for not having enough women in his cabinet. Of the two subjects, the one that made me stop for a minute involved the female critics. Not enough women in the cabinet I guess. To insure that none of you criticize the management at Vermont Flower Farm I want you all to know that this is a 50-50 management "group" and it involves Gail and me. That's one woman and one man. There may be slightly more women than men in the world but our management ratio is staying the way it is. Now the staff ratio is a different thing. In the spring there are an average of 7 women and 4 men getting us through planting time. That means 64% women and 36% men. That should satisfy folks I think. When we get into the business end when customers prevail, a typical day has Gail and some combination of Michelle, Austin and maybe one other woman. Again, this should satisfy any critics out there that we try at VFF to be gender considerate. I'm open to comments but we do try!

As snow deepens here on the mountain, give some thought to your gardens, now blanketed under tons of white stuff. Daylilies are a very good flower for the Vermont climate. Gail and I enjoy the older varieties and refuse to pay $150-$250 for some new to the market variety. Up top is one of Gail's favorites, Indian Paintbrush, named after the wildflower that predominates out west but grows here in Vermont too. Immediately below here is Island Sand Dollar and Hush Little Baby. None of these are expensive, they all preform very well and in three years from planting you'll receive compliments that will make your day. With +61,000 registered daylilies on the market now, you have plenty to choose from. Give them some thought and stop by this summer to walk the fields and see what we have.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where ice fisherman sit in shanties drinking different beverages and peering out windows waiting for small flags to pop up on their tip ups, perhaps signaling a trophy brown trout, perhaps a hungry nuisance perch.

Be well!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm: Our old but functional website that will be replaced in February

Monday, January 19, 2009

Seeds of Change

Monday, January 19, 2008

20 degrees warm here on the mountain and that's a fine change for what has been a colder than normal week. Three mornings were close to or colder than minus 20 so there's been quite a temperature spread. I just came home from White River and Hanover about an hour ago and there was snow all the way. There was also a little black ice here and there on the interstate that made things inter-state-esting. Right now large fluffy flakes drift by the millions bringing reality to the fact that Snowflake Bentley photographed over 5000 snowflakes that he said were all different. Next time you're out with the kids take a good hand magnifier and start counting!

Gardeners are writing regularly on their blogs now about the number of gardening and seed catalogs they are receiving. Something like 95% of all published catalogs, even in good times, get dumped unread. Part of the moral here is that if you like forests as we do, look on-line more and order that way too. Admittedly there is something nice about a stack of new catalogs to thumb through but we all have to be more cognizant of what we are doing with our resources.

Because of my membership with the Garden Writers Association I received some promotional pictures from Park Seed Company. The first pictures came on a CD of specially selected seeds for 2009 as judged by a seed overview group. That's what caught my eye and prompted me to write to Park Seed and ask for some pictures to use in my blogs. Parks has been around a long time, they understand customer service, and they responded immediately. Here goes!

That's a Cauliflower named Graffiti up top with a brilliant purple look, followed down below by three different tomatoes including Tomatoberry, Kellog's Beefsteak, and Chocolate Cherry. There's also an acorn-like small squash named Honey Bear at the end. I can envision the tomatoes sliced thin in a nice vinegar-mint dressing and the Honey Bears cut in half and filled with maple syrup, butter and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Baked squash can't be beat!

Last year I grew just a few vegetables but a few seeds made for lots of vegetables which found their way to the local food shelf and the senior citizens weekly meals program. I never personally met a single person who got any of the fresh produce but I did get reports that it was gone lickety split on pick up days. This is why I'm thinking about more vegetables this year so we can have a little more variety and we can send more food to those who need some help. These Park Seed varieties are new to the market and look interesting.

As you plan your gardens and make seed purchases, think through how many seeds you need for the size of your garden. If you have extra seed and a little spare space, think about growing a little extra produce to leave off at your food shelf. If that doesn't work for you, I guarantee you don't have to look too far down your street to find someone who would appreciate what you don't need. Fresh vegetables can't be beat. Seeds can create change and can help us rebuild relationships the way I remember them in the early fifties. Friends cared about neighbors and looked out for old folks. "Thank yous" were commonly heard. Wouldn't be too hard to get back to that point would it?

Today's miles have caught up with me for sure. I'm tired but I keep wondering what those Chocolate Cherry tomatoes taste like. Give this seed thing some thought and maybe you can help make a little change in someone's summer menu!

Winter garden greetings from the mountain above Peacham Pond. Karl the Wonder Dog is snoring on the rug by the stove. I'm thinking about some maple nut ice cream topped with two ounces of light amber maple syrup from Gadapes Sugar House in Danville. Then I'll be snoring too!

George Africa

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Very Cold Thoughts

Thursday, December 15, 2009

Good morning from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the wind is calm and the thermometer registers 19.8 below zero, and slowly drops lower as the sun contemplates rising. Karl the Wonder Dog just made a Superman-like, "faster than the speed of light" trip outside and back and neither of us debated the decision.

I've been busy at work, had a carpal tunnel repair job on my left wrist, and here at the house I have been working on our new website. I'm down to resizing hundred of pictures and that takes time just to get organized. I have always said I am not a "New Years Resolution" person but one thing that has to change this year is when I take pictures, they have to get sorted, labeled and stored in proper files and folders. I am spending too much time trying to find what I know I have and it's all my fault.

I belong to the Garden Writers Association and with that membership comes product information from many plant and supply companies. The DVDs are interesting and most work so after you get excited you really can see what is available. I planned to show you the latest poinsettias before the holidays and the DVD I received was messed up. I called for another and half of it was missing so I gave up on that one. By next year there will be more varieties of this fine holiday flower as a great deal of hybridizing work is being done on color and style. I'll try again!

Before I head out the door this morning, here are a few selections to think about. Nothing super but everything has a place. Gaillardia Arizona Sun is up top.Change is good in the garden too!

Vinca Pacifica Burgundy

Osteospermum Asti White

And finally, a new pepper named 'Carmen' . Hot thoughts on a very cold day!

Be well, keep warm and remember your pets and animals. It's cold out there!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener