Grateful every day and extra today.

We say our “gratefuls” most every day. I’m sure we forget every so often. For months my youngest was always grateful for broccoli and cheese. I can’t really blame him.

For awhile my eldest couldn’t ever say what she was grateful for. She couldn’t choose. Sometimes we’d hold up what we we doing until she agreed to some thing from the day we knew she’d enjoyed. Eventually we just let her skip when she needed to.

I am grateful for thousands of potential future carrots.

For a few years, I posted daily on social media every day in November a few things I was randomly grateful for that day.

I quit social media a few years ago, unless you count this. I started up a new platform early-covid. I quit it in August. And then my mom asks a few days into December if I still do daily gratitudes in November and if I’d do them with her. I’d forgotten all about that aspect of this habit.

Sure, I said. And we didn’t get to every day. It’s been an odd month in our family, let alone “with everything that’s going on.” I do think that’ll be the catch phrase of this year. Is the safe gauge to ask someone how things are going “with everything that’s going on” and let them decide which pieces of that everything they’d like to talk about.

I think she forgot to do today’s and I think I did as well.

As my husband and I are teaching our children that thanksgiving is a day to practice gratitude like we do most every day, but that in our family it is to be particularly aware of and grateful for having enough food to eat and share that we spend time making, sharing, and eating good food.

As we’re waiting another year or two to talk about what other people may be celebrating today, or why there are pilgrim hats on turkeys everywhere, they’ll forget to be grateful for broccoli and cheese (as they are busy being grateful for pumpkin pie and homemade challah and mashed potatoes.

It doesn’t feel like thanksgiving to me until it smells like challah in my home.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this year the things that are small are easier to be aware of and grateful for than the past. The slowing down is to thank. The daily life differences between Too Much Corporate and Never Too Much Playtime. The effort and the lack of other efforts.

I’m grateful for the hope I feel when I see the first curls hinting at cabbage heads. Or broccoli bunches. Or cauliflower.

Cauliflower’s dreaming of snowballs.

Can’t catch ‘‘em all

A missed sweet potato showing its hands next to the winter brassicas.

It’s been a decent sweet potato year. I tested yield differences between ones left to creep and crawl and ones given climbing options.

Both varieties gave noticeably higher yields under trellis, the purple Japanese variety really pulling out all the stops in a combined test of second year growth (volunteer list from last year) and shared trellis with a melon. I got maybe 30 lbs from that one spot.

I kept going for a good while after taking a progress photo.

I am not sure between Vardaman and Yellow Jewel how yields were, as they got eaten quickly and I hadn’t labeled the spots, mistakenly thinking I’d be able to tell them apart upon harvest. Both were creamy and tasty, and much less floral than the purple ones (the only way I can think to describe it, it’s not a bad thing.)

The purple ones are also more starchy and fibrous, but the yields on them are impressive in the second year. In the first year they mostly vine and send down a web of roots, seemingly to prepare for next year. No wonder I’ve yet to see slips for them for sale. (These I started in my pantry from organic ones from the grocery store.)

I imagine future sowings will depend heavily on future location climate more so than preference. If I were staying put another year, I wouldn’t add any more purple ones, as I’m sure I left some in the ground already, but would likely triple my creamier varieties to 36 plants, all trellised, and see if I couldn’t get a proper scale.

Delicious, nutritious, purple snowflakes.

Travel companions.

We’re looking at dates now. Perhaps we leave in a month. Perhaps longer. In all the planning there is, planning which plants to try and bring, which to give away, and who, if anyone, is eager to garden-sit… is quite overwhelming.

The three blackberries will go to a friend. The potted plum to my in-laws. Perhaps they’d like the blueberries, too.

Do you think this giant chard would mind two weeks in damp newspapers if I gave it a severe haircut first?

Napoleon will come with us. He first made the voyage here with us seventeen years ago as a little 1” specimen.

I’m tempted to harvest tomatoes green and wrap them in paper. A book I’ve just received discusses the method as a winter storage option. Surely it’s possible for any green tomatoes you might need to pick early.

The onions started falling over, so I’m starting their curing in batches. Trying this, learning that, one group of toppled tops at a time.

And then there are the carrots to pickle and the cucumbers to… pickle. Perhaps some dry beans will dry in time.

But I believe these are the last of my seeds I’ll sow for awhile. And I’ll never eat the sweet potatoes, okra, or melon on their way. I hope the popcorn finish as we’re ready to pack them in, and that the sweet corn make a delicious farewell feast appearance.

I’ll not count the gardens I’ve started and said goodbye to. I’ll remember this one as the best yet and the breeding ground for making home-farm dreams seem achievable. And I’ll miss it dearly, idyllically, forgetting the summer’s blasting heat coming and the bare earth during planting’s “winter” in the dead of July and August.

Where? When?

I was intent on sowing the next crop between the leeks. Black-eyed peas, specifically, since I’m not allowed any more tomatoes (which I still don’t like… I know…) and don’t have access to any more peppers (which are either too hot for me, but grow well for me, or I love to eat, but can’t seem to get a good crop off of…) and it’s not *quite* sweet potato time. Well, and I’d have to dig up the leeks to sow those.

But I can’t actually see the ground between these lovelies. I can if I squat. I can if I really try. But then I figure I’d disturb the little bean roots (or are they technically peas?) when I do start pulling leeks. So… the first sowing went between the onion rows instead.

I do have to wait for these to fall over, right? Are we talking days still? Or weeks yet?

And curing them is a day in the shade or the sunshine before a week in the garage? I’ll need to recheck.

It’s… Wednesday, right?

Little deaths and happy days.

Not those kind of little deaths.

These kind.

From thinking in my foggy ill-again head that leaving the plastic cover on, outside on the sunny porch, would save moisture. It did. It cooked them in a hot sauna.

Oops.

A setback of a few weeks I’ll foggily attempt to start anew tomorrow.

And these.

I’ve been trying sprouted grains and seeds to see how much I can get grains back into my life. The first few rounds were deliciously successful. These pumpkin seeds, and their other flora counterparts, were destined for not-granola granola bars. They ended in the compost this morning after my Does Not Smell Bad Smells Nose nudged my mouth to ask, “hey honey, does this smell like rot to you?”

Retrying those will have to wait for another trip to the store that has the bulk section.

But in happy news, this came today (or at least, I received it today as we are both lackadaisical about checking the mailbox.)

Also in happy news, it was gorgeous outside. And I had two eager little soccer kickers to play with me.

I can eat that.

The henbit has been loving this weather. It also has been possibly choking out the brassicae sprouts. But also possibly hiding them from the nibbling critters.

I hedged my bets on preventing choking and risking chomps. We’ll see…

The leeks from Dixondale Farms finally found their earthen homes. All ~120 of them. At least they freeze well.

This was the fingerling potato bed. After digging the whole way over it was discovered that the ~12 we buried grew into…3. Too many freezes without cover took them out. So those three are saved for a few weeks when it’s time to try another sowing.

In tomato and pepper (and flower!) news: I, of course, checked for sprouts again this morning. We’re still about five days from the earliest realistic possible growth. I did borrow the instant read thermometer from the kitchen to check the heating pad transference to the soil. 75 degrees F was the goal and exactly where it was. Huzzah!

Over here, the cabbage is happier than the henbit – hooray!

Behind.

I think I’ve felt behind on this every year since the first year.

Tomatoes and peppers of varieties that the nursery will have no backups for. These sprout and thrive or we don’t have them.

An early eager helper turned bored companion quickly yesterday. It’s tricky to enjoy this winter ritual when being harped upon to play something more fun. This is play for me, but work for her.

And then a nap ended and out emerged a bewildered boy. An eager helper beside me once more, who found Papa’s favored pepper seeds that I had overlooked. Peace, for a moment or twelve.

And then his way awoke. Seeds pressed down nearly an inch into the soil, coaxed back to the top, boiled an eruption to the surface within him and I was once again with irritated companions of proximity.

There’s a wiring in her that won’t likely loosen on enjoying plant chores. She has it as deeply set for enjoying the care of animals.

There’s an opposing wiring in him, as there oddly often is, to decline playing dinosaurs with her to help me plant, provided My Way doesn’t over exert itself.

And so I will learn to give more give in my plans, build in cushions of time and space where needs be, so my worry about the impossibility of backups doesn’t tarnish, or simply crumble, the enjoyment of the season.

(And yes, I did check the seed tray first thing this morning to see if any miraculously fast sprouting had occurred overnight. It never has and yet I always check.)

Sharecrow.

A scarecrow, in a field of corn, to keep the birds at bay.

A sharecrow, in rows of beans, to feed them come what may.

I’m reading a book. I’ve forgotten the name in my currently foggy (“thick as peanut butter!” / “you mean pea soup!” / “you eat what you like and I’ll eat what I like!” ) brain. It tells of learning of farming from observation, documentation, and old timers.

One old timer the author learned from spoke of feeding the crows when the corn seedlings were small, so they left the sprouts alone until they were big enough that the crows left them be.

An unintentional parallel in my garden, currently.