Sunday, September 13, 2009

Best laid plans ...

of mice & men so goes the famous line written by John Steinbeck. This thought could very well apply to a good majority of gardeners and farmers in my area. Here in Western New York and from what I have read on many online gardening forums most of the northeast has suffered from both early & late season blight to both tomato and potato crops. It was an unusually cool and wet Summer for us which provided the perfect environment for blight.
Besides these two staples onions that normally didn't have a problem grown in low lying fields became too wet & rotted. Watch for a price hike for all 3.

For my own small space in the city the blight hit late but deep. 70 odd surviving San Marzano tomato plants that I had started from seed all came down with the blight just as the fruit was starting to ripen.
We have been using some for cooking but won't be canning any of it. This means that I am scrambling to find a frugal alternative healthy to home grown canned tomatoes. So far many of the local farms haven't had any paste tomatoes to speak of or their supply is spoken for pretty much before it's picked. I won't mention the cost.
I may just have to break down and actually buy canned toms.
Will also rework our Winter menu to substitute something else in place of tomatoes.
Any suggestions?

This is what blight looks likes from a distance. The plants turn brown and look as if they need water. Both stems & leaves have milk chocolate colored patches. This is the cold frame moved to it's new & final location last April.
After this pic was taken all the blighted plants were pulled then it was replanted with salad greens. Also moved some of the marigolds to this bed to help with bug control.

An example of blighted fruit. Top left hand corner is San Marzano Italian paste, on the right is an unknown beefsteak variety that sprouted up in the cold frame a volunteer.
This link is from Penn State Cooperative extension on why you shouldn't can blighted tomatoes.

Here's a pic of the tomatoes (new bed) in July before the blight hit. By August the plants had topped the trellis that DH built and were growing down the back side despite the lack of proper sunshine due to a neighbor's Maple tree. Over all the beds that I doubled digged & layered with organic matter did very well despite the poor growing conditions.

Need to find out if it's alright to use a tomato grown on a blight plant for it's seeds. I have saved one of the larger San Marzano's for next years crop. There is after all always next year.

~~ pelenaka ~~

P.S. I have 3 new bartering buds - two are a direct result of my primary bbgf who introduced me to them. One I traded a plastic office organizer drawer thingy & a pound of DH's garden onions for 3 jars of Ragu sauce & several packets of name brand tuna. The second bb ( barter buddy), traded me a dozen & half eggs home grown eggs for a future take on salad greens which will be ready in a month. The 3rd is a member of my church who I had spoken to early last Spring. Truthfully I really didn't get the impression from her that bartering was an idea that interested her. I was wrong. I bartered a 5 lbs. roast from the beef that was butchered last July, several melons from DH's garden, and 2 pounds of his onions, in return for Frutis conditioner 2 lg. , 2 each of Sunsilk shampoo & conditioner lg., 4 Stayfree maxi 18 count, 5 Stayfree Ultra thins 16 count packages. 1 Palmolive bottle of dish soap 20 onces. I will also come up with a few extra goodies for her since she wasn't really sure on what she wanted besides the roast. She is a very big coupon/rebate gal having figured out that whole CVS program.

Needless to say as God was watching out for me as I was on my last sanitary pad that morning. Yeah, I know TMI TMI.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Slate & Chalk

Just a freaking rant to post about today.
No soap box 'cause remember I'm unemployed so too broke to buy a box. Also it's a few days past garbage pick up otherwise I'd score a box outta some one's recycle bin. Please post your thoughts about my rave because I want to start a national movement or at least a local one. So here's my gripe.

What makes a public school teacher decide that only certain colors in regards to a binder/folder are acceptable for their class ? Why is it necessary to be color specific ? Can't any folder provided it has the required pockets & prongs no matter the color do? Can't the subject just be written on the top right hand corner like we did old school ?
What's with cloth book covers which retail for $4.99 ? Are these covers so much better than brown paper bags ?
Are teachers receiving a kick back from manufactures of school supplies ?

I mean think about it seriously, if there are 28 students all needing a cloth book cover that equals $139.72
Now x that amount by 6 classes = 168 students / 168 cloth book covers. Total of $838.32.
That's a bit of coin by anyone standard.

So here's my beef.
Took DD#3 out to buy 3 folders to complete her list of required school supplies. She needed three folders that were in the following colors; pale purple, light orange, and bright green. I kid you not.
So after going to not only the mega store & an office supply place we finally found them, sorta. The folder were in paper not plastic.
A few years ago I started purchasing their school folders in plastic which @ the end of the year could be washed in warm soapy water to remove the plain white address label on the top right hand corner. The label stated their name,grade, & subject.
So far my children have been using the same folders for 3 years.
So far so good right? Yeah, until this school year when my 8th grader put together her backpack for school & informed me we have an issue. We did have the right colors. Not to mention the two cloth book covers on her list.

So we spent like a total of $3.67 for 3 paper folders, 2 ten packs of pens.
No cloth covers. Instead I emailed the teacher informing her I was unemployed. Also that I found it personally offensive to encourage consumerism especially when that product isn't made in America. Practically asked her if she didn't believe in being green. Then I put a spin on the how a cloth cover stifles the creative juices by not encouraging mindless doodling on a simple brown paper book cover. Add something along the lines of please call if this is a problem and I hope this won't affect her grade in your class. Thought about adding that we could contact our house of worship for financial assistance but husband thought that was over kill. Besides we really wouldn't do that.
Now before anyone comments about how hard teaching is I have to say I agree. My brother teaches 6th grade in an inner city school. It's not about the profession it's about need vs. want.
I mean back in the day it was as simple as a slate & a piece of chalk.
I understand the calculus calculator. I even get needing a lap top in certain classes.
But a cloth book cover?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Unexpected Flower Gardener

After our hike down to the Genesee River Gorge in the Maplewood section of Rochester my daughter & went over to High Falls to do the free self guided walking tour which showcases all the great old buildings like the Trolly Barn. While wandering around this historic neighborhood we met Jorge who was tending to his flower bed behind his salon on State Street across from Kodak's corporate office.
His flower garden is a foot wide and eighty feet long against an old brick factory building that borders an alley. Great use of space & composition.
We didn't discuss if he was a true guerrilla gardener since after all he was watering in broad daylight, instead he gave us the run down on his hood both past and the proposed future renovation plans for lofts.
On the corner of Factory and State had originally been a hotel now shops & apartments. One of it's most note able occupants was a gal named Bicycle Annie.
One has to smile, I mean you can't have a truly historic city within a city without a few advent guard characters right?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day Tripper

This post really has nuttin really to do with urban homesteading skills unless you put this in the frugal catagory. Enjoying a short day trip on the fly without a ten spot. Total out lay was under $5 for parking & some snacks from Aldis on Lake Ave. Would have been cheaper if I had thought ahead & packed a lunch & treats.
Gas $ was donated by fellow deacon's to cover transportation.
An afternoon of wander lust with my daughter.

Last month DD#3 & I did a road trip into Rochester together to deliver fresh produce from our church garden to Cameron House which is sponsored by St. Andrews. Over 100 ears of sweet corn, the proverbial bushel of zucchini, half a bushel of Summer squash, almost a dozen Turban squash, five or six cukes, a few eggplants, and almost 5 cups of hot peppers to balance out the peck of almost ripe banana peppers. Oh & almost a dozen bell peppers. Not too lame despite our really cool & wet Summer this year.
Afterwards since we had time to spare but no spare cash to speak of so we did a little free sight seeing in the Maplewood section of Rochester, first visiting the Rose Garden on the corner of Driving Park & Lake Ave.

Much to the delight of my daughter who is a moderately skilled gardener in her own right despite the fact that she truly dislikes gardening got her own private tour from Paul, an employeee of the city of Rochester. How awesome would it be to be paid to tend Roses?
Once he understood that her only interest was in Roses that gave a scent they were off strolling from bed to bed pointing out Roses that had a faint spicy fragrance or a sweet Rose scent.
It was extremely nice of him to take time out of his lunch break.

Then we hiked the city maintained path to the middle falls of the Genesee River. Great views of the Middle Falls & the new Driving Park Bridge.

Climbed down off the path to actually put our feet in the water & have a rest on a fallen tree.
Down here in the gorge feeling the mist on your face it is hard to realize that up above your surrounded by a modern city.

~~ pelenaka ~~