Tuesday, July 30, 2013

So many scary things are not scary anymore

Spring semester, summer semester, my first self-chosen and scheduled crop, my first business event wherein I sold my farmers' produce as originally imagined over a year ago, my first licensed sales of CFO goods - all of these scary ass things are not scary anymore because they're done.

WON AND DONE - as I keep nerdily saying to myself in my head.

As you know, I got The Straight As in spring semester and, as of yesterday, I got The Straight As in summer semester.

One A is still straight As so shut it.

Which isn't as hard to do when it's just one class, it's only six weeks long and 67% of your grade is either farmwork or visiting farms.

And that 67% isn't a randomly generated by my brain number either - that's the way the instructor structured the class. 67% participation in and notes from farmwork and field trips, 33% final exam. Which I aced.

I assume.

I actually have no idea what my score was on the final, but I am going to imagine a big fat 100% on the top because that's the kind of delusional fantastical nerd that I am.

So yay for that - my streak is still alive. And for Bubba taking me out to celebrate my A-ness, which is reason it itself to keep getting As.

THEN, though - OH THEN - there was my first self-chosen and self-scheduled crop: the wily pak choi.

If any vegetable can be wily, it's pak choi. I guess.

See, my instructor/boss/department head who gave me this supah fun job growing hydroponic basil, decided that I should (after one solid week working on the basil process) SPLIT the system and grow something else.

You know, because school + small business start up + grower job with two crops (remember the hops?) isn't enough - I need something else to occupy the 35 seconds when I'm not freaking my shit out over one of those other things. Or my garden. Or the front yard meadow that's now also growing four kinds of squash. Or my many bruises and wounds from this newly discovered mountain biking business.

You know - whatever on those things - let's learn something else. I NEED ANOTHER CHALLENGE NO.

But alas, when one's instructor/boss/department head throws down a very relevant challenge, who am I to reject it?

No one, that's who. I can't do it. I must attempt the challenge.

Thankfully, the challenge wasn't too terrible even though it involved math AND science to some degree and involved the potential for failure to some other greater degree. Like, if I fuck it up, we'd have 1/2 as much basil to sell at the market and ZERO pak choi and that would be boo.

Plus, the clucking hens at the market would be all, "You know, other person who used to grow all of the crops, when you were growing all of the crops, we never went a week without all of our hearts' desires. This new girl must be a fucking idiot." or whatever.

But who can be bitchy around such cute produce? NO ONE THAT'S WHO.

They're crazy, these women, and I don't want to enrage them.

And I did not.

31 2 pak bundles went out and only 4 remained. Good show, my pretties.
The #1 pak choi harvest was glorious and very nearly sold out (there were only a few paks left and we split them up among ourselves at work) and also very good.

This is a Thai peanut stir fry that I made last night and GOOD. If you're nice, I'll share the recipe SO BE NICE.

Then, on the heels of my first pak choi harvest last Friday, I had my first business event in which I actually sold produce sourced from my farmers' gardens (plus also mine - which, thank gawd because this place is crawling with fucking produce).

Why, hello there beautiful fresh produce from so many different yards and gardens! You look purty.

See - my vision for this business was to amass and train enough home farmers so that I could patchwork quilt together enough backyards (and front yards, fronts are good, too) to create an urban farm. Because you know there's not shit for space in Silicon Valley beyond that which we pave and park cars on or on which we grow many many stores and freeways.

Thus, the idea for crowdsourced farming was born and BAM! last weekend, it came to life. Albeit on a small just-getting-started-up scale and while standing back to back with a real life farmer who works one piece of land like a normal person.

Also, this guy is super nice and obviously adorable. I will be visiting his farm on my way to the greenhouse and I will help him in those fields as promised. Because I'm obviously flush with free time BUT WHATEVER. I'm a sucker for a farm - this is well known.

OOH - and I made and sold my first food stuffs thanks to the blessing (and financial ass raping) of California's new Cottage Food Operator License.

Lil' Jam Jars. It's a thing. A single fruit, small batch thing.

Yeah. I will say that while being able to make and sell my jams, jellies, herb mixes and honey is great and people like it and totally buy it and it makes smiles appear on their faces, I don't really appreciate the price tag of the permit itself.

Or those of the food handler's course I had to take and the health department's inspection fees and all of that nonsense.

AND OH IS IT NONSENSE. It is. Bureaucracy makes me want to scoop out people's eyes with snow shovels.

Really now.

But whatevs - I sold lots of my Lil' Jam Jars and I'm taking my show on the road to other events because, again, not enough to do...I must do more things...more scary, scary unknown until I do them things.

This is my life now.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

#1 Tomato Day

OK, that's probably the worst photo I've taken of #1 Tomato Day, but we're frankly all pretty lucky that a photo was even taken because this handful went right into my mouth after the shutter went off.

And by "shutter", I mean that stupid touchscreen button on the phone.

I know I should stop taking photos with my phone but, alas, this is my life now. Where my phone is never more than a butt cheek away. Because it lives in my back pocket, not because I put it in my ass.


Anyway - it's #1 Tomato Day (plus also #s 2 and 3 if you're counting up there) and YAY. Also yay for the constant tomato stalking proving to be worthwhile rather than just a torturous pointless wander through the garden around the many piles that Jada lays out for me on an hourly basis.

Quiet thank you to the scooper for keeping me arm's distance from the piles and the ironic "Yard Dumps" bucket for keeping me from having to walk aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way to the front of the property to dispose of the piles individually in the big can.

And I'm sorry for talking about dog poos when there are way better things like the coming of the next tomatoes and the rest of the garden's thorough insanity to saturate our minds and eyeballs.

Let's do that then:

TWO Better Boys just thisclose to face-stuffing ripeness

The fabled Paul Robeson with its alleged smoky flavor. We'll just see about that WHENEVER YOU DECIDE TO RIPEN, JERK.

The glorious Jaune Flamme. I shall eat thee in two bites.
Yeah, so the tomatoes are nearly upon us. Which is sort of scary given that we've already been set upon by the cucumbers and THE BIGGEST TOMATILLOS THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN.

Um, since when are tomatillos the size of tomatoes?
I'm truly in awe (and terrified by) the fucking huge tomatillos the garden produced this year. I got the seeds anew and started them in The Suspicious Grow Op and really didn't think that they'd do much and then they did MUCH MORE.

Hello and...


Yeah. Never in my life did I think I'd have a tomatillo situation like this. Where the plants are bigger than tomato plants and the fruits are bigger than tomato fruits and the plants themselves (because always two, remember?) have the capacity to overtake an entire raised bed plus snuff out most of the nasturtium around them.

Just yikes.
So, there's that.

Oh  yeah, the cucumbers are also yikes.


But also cute.

And handily hanging from its trellis like a good little dong.

And being all photogenic.

And prepping for pickling

And getting in the jar like a good bunch of pickles.
People, I've made so many pickles. We are never going to deflate as human beings around here.

So...swollen...with...pickling salt...IT'S GLORIOUS.

But oh, the other scary thing is the basil. There's...a lot of it.

And then, because I'm the basil grower on campus now and OOPS I overseeded my trays the last few weeks during the transition to pak choi so had a plants left over, I now have 50 more basil plants all over the place.

Good thinking, me.

*Sigh* I don't learn.

But I do eat basil at every meal now, so there's that.

And now I eat eggs, thanks to my ladies down the block that let me snatch their goods whenever I want them.
Thanks, Bitsy. Your fluffy butt is my favorite.
And now that we've started to go down the rabbit hole of photos with captions with photos, let's just look at my hops because they're fucking glorious.

I'll be getting in there with my macro lens soon enough so that you can see the gorge lupulin just aformin' under those petals. And then there will be harvesting, drying and finally BEERS.

Firstly, though - peel me a fucking grape already three years later.

Yeah. These fuckers are on their third year and are just now producing edible clusters that I would like to consume in one sitting, but alas, they ripen one effing grape at a time, so I have to wait.

Or, I have to eat them one at a time as they come ripe therefore dooming myself to an unsatisfying non-feast until such time as they produce enough so that I can't keep up with their ripening.

Like the apples now do.

One harvest out of three and we're already behind eating these.

So yeah, that's my big problem right now - eating all of this gorgeous shit that I'm so hot to grow. And it's my favorite problem to have.

WOE IS ME I'M SO HUNGRY. Oh. There's something to eat everywhere I look.

Good job, summer garden. And way to go me for writing the most disjointed post in the history of this blog.

*High five*

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

I still do dumb shit

Yeah, don't let those straight As mislead you, folks. I do just as much dumb shit now as I did before I was laying down straight As like a big fat nerd.

And now the dumb shit I do, particularly that which applies to the garden, is ever the more dumb given that I'm actively being educated on how to do it right.

Don't tell my clients.

So yeah, I MASTER fucking planned my summer garden. As in, I nerded THE FUCK OUT over the winter planning not only the summer garden and managing the winter garden but also tucking in an early spring garden to boot.

I WAS SO ON IT that I probably even dreamed about it, though I have no recollection to that effect. But I can imagine it happening. Especially since I spent the majority of my waking hours that weren't dedicated to school or work on it.

And then I went right ahead and, when the weather was warm enough and the transplants had grown out from seed enough and were perfectly ready to transplant into the garden, I carefully MASTERFULLY constructed this year's summer garden with its special trellises and net supports and staking and tepeeing (not like TPing, obviously WHY DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU THIS SHIT?) so that everything would just be ever so happy and grow ever so tall/wide/over plants that needed shade/etc.

Your perfect growing environment awaits, plants. SO GET TO IT.

And then I went ahead and planted bush beans in the very sacred real estate on the bean tepee that would have been really extra nice to use for more pole beans but I thought that OH NO there isn't enough space and this year the dry beans (cannellini) and green beans (Fortex) will just each have one side and done. I'll live with just a dozen of each plant, but it'll be OK because those pole beans will do just fine with one on one side and the other on the other.

Which would have worked great if they were both pole beans. Ahem.

All was going super well until oh hello these look like bush beans happened just a few stupid weeks into the summer growing season.


Well, I went back and forth to High Mowing Seeds a hundred times (ok, like three times) at least to check and make sure that the Silver Cloud Cannellini Beans that I'd ordered were pole beans and I swear on my Hula Hoe that those fucking beans were pole beans but no.

They are not.

My powers of delusion must really be getting good because I swears it that when I checked the first three times, it totally said "Pole" and then once I knew deep down in my heart that they were really bush beans (since they weren't climbing the tepee that I'd so conveniently put right next to them - rude), I went back to the site for the fourth time and, oh sad, "upright bush habit" is right there.

So, I'm an idiot.

I have bush beans growing right next to the tepee lines perfect for pole beans and BOO I don't have enough pole beans growing.

So I put in a pole bean annex and planted more pole beans. Even though it's going to take them forever to climb it and the likelihood that I'm going to get a bumper crop out of that annex is pretty nill, I don't even care.
Everyone, this is the Bean Annex. Bean Annex, this is everyone.

It made me feel better.

And picking the first batch of dry cannellini beans made me feel a little bit better again.

And so now I'm ready to talk about my dumb ass, so here I am.

Also, the rest of the garden is FUCK YEAH.

Ever so soon I will be screaming like a god damned psycho when these Paul Robesons ripen.

The tomatoes cleared their 6' cages about two weeks ago and show no signs of doing anything but going for the sky.

This is 1/50th of my basil plants because I don't know how to stop planting basil.

The Jaune Flamme tomatoes are thisclose to ripe now. THISCLOSE.

Volunteer sunflowers are always welcome in my yard. Even if they act like idiot teenage girls all HEY LOOK AT ME WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I've already harvested so many pounds of cucumbers (these are Boothby Blonde) and made so many pickles that, yeah, whoa.

From these, too. National Pickling, I think. Or Homemade Pickles.

This sunflower was sent home for drinking on the job. Clearly.

And my lack of control doesn't just apply to basil. I have over a dozen pepperoncini, jalapeno, ancho and habanero plants because why the hell not.

This year, there will be grapes. SO MANY CONCORD GRAPES. 

My brutal thinning of the apples in the spring has resulted in the chubbiest Gravenstein apples ever.

At least we get a few pole beans. 

As always, these ungrateful fucks are looking for more room.

The ever present kale is...ever present.

SO MANY LANTERNS. And now, so much salsa verde. YES.

Did I mention that I'm growing a lot of basil? I am. There's a lot.

This was the first moment that the cucumbers escaped their beds. Now it's YIKES.

I've told you that I'm growing hops right? I am. These are them - Cascades.

Tell me you don't want to flick that tomato nipple. JUST TRY AND TELL IT TO ME. I won't believe you.

Why yes. The tomatoes did eat their cages awfully fast.


So, at least I did some things right.