Friday, May 16, 2014

Drown, Drought, Drenched...what the heck?!

Welcome back to another episode of Lost in the Farmers market or LITFM for short. As you might notice today’s episode is being posted a bit late by posting standards as it is Friday. I made the decision to let our rainy weather yesterday delay the post so I could get an accurate precipitation reading as we had not had any rain since the uberstorm pretty much. So the results of the rain were as follows; by three in the afternoon we had a average of 2.5” and then by the rains end (early Friday) an additional 1.9” totaling at 4.4”.  Fortunately there was no flooding, and those French drains I installed took the water away safely and efficiently which tells me they were still quite worth it.

            With the precipitation covered this week I will start off the actual blog post with some thoughts on sustainability and then a set of the week’s photographs from the test gardens. At the booth I get a lot of questions about what sustainability means, and for each person asked that I am sure the answer will vary. My definition at its heart is a simple one. 

“Sustainability is the practice and policy of systemic and cultural consideration for resources productivity and health with a special concern for the environment at large.”

It probably sounds a bit heady, but it is a good way to define a life style that has such far-reaching effects. To put it in a more physical view point I would imagine an ideal sustainable community to have a residential population density of perhaps one home per acre. Furthermore I’d imagine it would have no supermarkets instead having smaller markets at regular intervals to provide the food and basic goods the population might need. Commercial sites such as strip malls and such would be equidistant to all parts of the community so no one area would gain an undue economic advantage. Urban agriculture might be done on some scale in almost every yard, and full out agriculture might surround the community creating a green band before one might encounter a another residential area. In a way what I am proposing isn’t far off the old Arcology concept of a self-contained and self-sufficient community in a carefully engineered living space.

I know that what I’ve suggested is social design from the ground up but at the least we could begin by getting rid of super markets for smaller markets spread more equally across a given community. We know that due to size and zoning constraints it is not possible to place super markets with the regularity needed to prevent the existence of a food desert. So, it then becomes logical to promote the existence of farmer’s markets, farm whole sale operations (ie T&T Farmer’s market and Paul’s produce.) to fill in the gaps. It would not be hard for a major supermarket chain to make smaller community markets and in doing so they exist as a source of employment that in turn boosts the local economy if the workers are provided a respectable wage. These smaller markets could appear every two to three miles or so which puts them in walking distance. Their existence might spur the need for improved public transportation which then, more social mobility, more tax revenue and more jobs. But overall for those of us who own a vehicle…we would need to burn less fuel because the markets would be closer and thus we would be able to walk. As much as I don’t like the term, the Trickle-down effect of this change to community would greatly alter the status of the people in it and the ecological and social stability of such a community.  Walmart would have hell busting in because they’d have to brawl real supermarket chains and would probably loose pretty badly, communities would have no room for a wal-mart and thus some corms of corporate exploitation would be very difficult.

But anyway, that was my buck-fifty on the subject matter because let’s face it, two-cents was not enough. With it said I bring you on to a discussion of this week’s photographs. Feel free to leave a comment about the subject or to pitch some of those sustainable thoughts at the market.

Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Bocking 14’Bocking 14 Comfrey

I do often talk on this block of how important comfrey is as a garden herb and a natural source of compost and fertilizer but up until this year mine never bloomed. The blooms are as you can see are quite marvelous though I don’t know if the light sky blue tint really shows in this photograph. I snapped this picture on Thursday between the gaps in the thunder showers.

Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten – Berggarten Sage

One of the two culinary sages I keep in the gardens, this patch of berggarten is actually two or three plants. Their old spot was in the herb garden by the sheds but they seemed to be miserable there so they were transplanted as part of the herbal end cap in the reinforced mound bed. They continued to look pretty bad up until this spring, where they are displaying more positive growth then they had in their old location for the last two years.

Bunias orientalis – Turkish Rocket/ Warty Cabbage

I sold these plants as edible perennials in 2014 alongside three forms of chicory and French dandelions and this is a second year plant that is about to bloom. The real test is to see if it lives after it blooms. All sources indicate that this cabbage is a true perennial and not a biennial like most members of the brassica family but we’ll know for sure after it blooms. At the least if it dies after blooming we will have tons of seeds to start new ones with.

Solanum quitoense – Naranjilla / Bed of Nails

I got one! That’s right folks this here is an authentic bed of nails plant, a member of the nightshade family famed for its wicked foliage and edible fruit that is said to have a citrusy flavor compared to a mix of rhubarb and lime. I must confess I didn’t grow this from seed I actually got it from big bloomers in late winter for about $10.00. They grow them up there yearly and well the choice was to get some seedlings or to get a large mature overwintered plant and I think you can guess what option won. At the least it’s an awesome ornamental with scary spines and at best I get a new fruit to try in brewing.

I’ve talked about this area before; this is a pile of excavated soil left from the installation of the French drain project. I dumped compost on top expecting to cover crop it with red clover. The squash or melon seeds in the compost however; had other plans and are taking over very rapidly threatening to choke out the weeds and the clover. When I looked close these plants already had flower buds. Until these squash or melon vines produce fruit I won’t know what type they are but I’m still glad to have it none the less.

On the next episode of Life Styles of the Green and Succulent a tomato moves into the gated succulent community…tensions flare!
This is where some of my plants go for the summer; in this little nook between the cold frame and the patio. Arrayed out there are several Christmas cacti, nine types of aloe a kalanchoe and at least one peperomia. To the left is the Mexico Midget Tomato specimen that has outgrown all other tomatoes in pots thus far and needed more space it’s even got fruits on it surprisingly.

Capsicum anuum ‘Leutschauer’ – Leutschauer Paprika Pepper
And here we have the first pepper of the season, a paprika pepper. This plant was one of three sold to me by Laura Bradley (the pepper lady) at the Fayetteville Farmer’s market. The two others started to decline after being brought in and never made it through the winter. I might add this was the pepper that produced a fruit in the middle of winter with no known pollinator present eve after the Rainforest and Yellow Devils Tongue peppers had went semi-dormant. Leutschauer however soldiered on and made an utter recovery once placed outside. Overall I would say the aforementioned facts have cemented the Leutschauer pepper’s place as the best of 2013 and stands to reason it’s a front runner for best of 2014 also but let’s see how things develop.

But then speaking of sustainability and permanence, it is the weekend and thus it is time to talk about the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. As you may know the weather is set to be absolutely gorgeous and well you could not ask for more out of a market. For those who haven’t been tot eh Fayetteville Farmer’s Market, it is located at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville, and runs from 9:00 am through 1:00 pm though depending on how many folks are passing through the market we sometimes overrun that 1:00pm end time. Also there is a Wednesday market from 2:00pm to 6:00pm in the same location. So you can come down, get the freshest foods possible and chat up the folks responsible for producing it. As always below is the weekly list of what will be at the market on Saturday, and while it is not a precise list as sometimes I throw extras on the truck it’s darn close.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the eastern coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

2x Eggplant, Casper , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Sweet Banana , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Habenero, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Pimento, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Carolina Wonder, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

2x Tomato, Amana Orange, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Brown Berry, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Cherokee Purple, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Martino’s Roma, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Mexico Midget, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Rainbow Cherry Mix, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Red & Yellow Currant, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Reisotomate, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, San Marzano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Underground Rail Road, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

4x Strawberry- Ozark Beauty, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

4x Basil, Sweet, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil, Thai, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil, Cinnamon, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil, Red Rubin, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Bee Balm, Lambada, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Chives, Common, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Fennel, Black, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Mint, Chocolate, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Lamb’s Ear, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Lavender-Cotton-Green, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Marjoram, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Parsley, Italian, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tansy, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Borage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Genovese Basil
Black Hungarian Pepper
Green Zebra Tomato
Hillbilly Potato Leaf Tomato
Lemon Drop Peppers
Japanese Black Trifele Tomato
Striped Togo Eggplant
Louisiana Long Green Eggplant
Triple Crop Tomato
Thyme, Common
Ornamental, Passion Vine
Cucumber, Armenian
Cucumber, Poona Kheera
Melon, Vine Peaches
Melon, Kiwano
Ornamental, Angel’s Trumpet

Well now it's back to spring temperatures and life is good, but also we have come to the end of this episode. Stay tuned for more garden mayhem next week when we show some mutated calendulas and whatever the heck else has caught LITFM's eye before next Thursday.  As Alwas folks keep 'em growing!

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