Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Spring Surprises

Well, I'm not so enamored with that squirrel anymore. I put out my planters to take in the fresh air and sun last weekend. The large planter, the one the squirrel used to live in, with a mint plant freshly transplanted in it. Then the long planter with it's lonely calendula sprout coming up. And finally a yogurt container with some poor soil and the sprouted black walnut inside.

Wouldn't you know, just as I'm leaving for work on Monday, I spy that squirrel jumping into the planter with the calendula. I run back in the house and open the window to scare him away and as he bounds off, he upends the whole long planter, dumping most of its contents on the fire escape. The mint was unharmed but I brought it in anyway fearing he was after it for the black walnut. I thought squirrels didn't have very good memory, so I assumed it had forgotten about it's little treasure. I neglected to bring in the yogurt container though and of course, he was back and raided it and the black walnut was once again in his possession.

Now I'm little gun shy about setting the remaining mint plant out to be raided again. I'm wondering if the smell of the mint repels squirrels and that was why he didn't get into it. Oh well, I'll have to be content with mint for now. I plan on bringing the long planter to Shabazz and Josephine's to get some cuttings of oregano or sage or rosemary. Spring marches on...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Surprised by Spring

Sunday, April 13, 2008 was a permaculture design course workday at our friends Shabazz and Josephine's home in Newburgh, NY. I was looking forward to it in part because we learned so much the first time (March 23, see some photos :
I was also looking forward to transplanting a peppermint plant I bought at the Farmer's Market in Union Square. I intended to transplant it into an improvised planter I got when Phil and I took an organic gardening workshop with Deb Tyler at Local Farm in Cornwall Bridge, CT. I used that planter last year to grow one basil plant and one mint plant. The mint didn't last too long, but the basil made it through the summer. I neglected that planter last fall and as the basil withered someone else took interest in it. A squirrel. Eventually that squirrel took up residence in the planter, somehow carving a home into the soil an adding much of its own accoutrements, like leaves, and bits of trash. I guess it lived there off and on for 3 months, but with the first warm days, the planter was empty and lifeless again. So I intended to reclaim it and on Sunday morning I retrieved it from our fire escape and brought it to Newburgh.

There was a lot of matted squirrel hair in it but also a lot of soil and leaves. I tossed the hair and turned the remaining soil, adding some root mulch to the bottom as instructed by Sharon Kimmelmann, our PDC co-organizer. But as I was emptying the soil out, Sharon spied something at the bottom of the planter. It was a large sprout. She inspected it for a while and proudly announced it to be a sprouted black walnut! It seems our furry friend had left a gift for the use of the planter. I now have that sprout in a small planter on our fire escape along with the transplanted mint plant and am looking forward to enjoying both as they grow this spring.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Revolution

Just finished reading Sandor Katz's book: The Revolution will not be microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements. What a great book! I felt like here's someone who understands what's going on in the country and is ready for it, at least where food is concerned. Particularly poignant was the chapter on neutriceuticals in which Sandor talked about the precariousness of being tethered to the health care system via prescription drugs. Sandor is HIV+ and takes several different drugs that cost much more than anyone should have to pay to stay alive. Why is this poignant? Because I'm in the same boat. I too am tethered to the health care system via prescription drugs and it sucks! I don't pay nearly as much as he does. His meds are subsidized by the state he lives in, mine, luckily, are part of my employers health care plan. So we're both lucky. But what if that state support goes away or I lose my job? What then? No one should have to live with this kind of weight on their shoulders or over their head. Unfortunately, many do and many others are not as lucky as Sandor and I are.