By LYNNE IRONS
According to the Rodale Institute, switching conventional farmland to organic would cut greenhouse emissions by 10 per cent in the U.S. as sustainably farmed soil can absorb 30 percent more carbon.
Here is my problem with “organic”: it still gets shipped thousands of miles to our markets. Local eating has to become a way of life. This coming winter will be a real test as fuel prices, California drought, and Midwestern floods will take a toll. It is not too late to plant some kale, collards, Swiss chard, carrots, beets, green beans, and even zucchini or cucumbers. They will be ready in 60 days.
For those of you lucky enough to be growing food already, it is time to haul out the canning jars and freezer bags. It does not have to be a big project. If you make a nice vegetable sauté for supper, make a couple of extra servings and freeze them. Sometime during a winter storm you will be so glad you did.
Last fall I purchased some homegrown garlic from Devin Green. It was beautiful. He mentioned it was his first sale. I planted some of the cloves in October and was rewarded this week with lots of fully-formed bulbs. I have been using quite a bit and plan to dry some as well. I also have some beautiful onions. Some I planted from seed and actually weeded them a number of times. I have now resorted to weeding with my Felcos as some are three or four feet tall and I fear for the lives of the neighboring vegetables if I attempt to pull them. Also I am thinking of my chiropractor bill.
Sometimes I need to weed with a shovel. This should give you an idea of the sorry state of the perennial beds.
Wasn’t it a lovely rain last week? I was so happy. I was feeling rather desperate. We had not had any for almost a month. Last year’s drought stressed out this year’s perennials. I feel a lecture coming on.
Many of my non-gardening friends are not so fond of rain. With all this talk about oil shortages, we need to focus our attention on water as well. Look around the world. Those women in Africa walking for miles every day to retrieve enough for cooking and drinking, the flood victims with no clean water to drink, and wars fought over water rights. The hundreds of fires in California should give us pause.
We could do so much more to limit ourselves — talk about green — minimize the size of our lawns, take shorter showers, fix those leaky faucets, and stop buying it in plastic bottles. Have your own tap water tested if you are, in fact, paranoid. If the test proves that something is amiss, a distiller is an invaluable purchase. Here is the deal: water is boiled and the steam trapped and cooled. the resulting pure liquid pours into a separate container. There you have it! You could personally distil sea water or even a mud puddle if disaster strikes.
I picked several good-sized beets. Usually I cook them in the oven until the skin slips off, but it has been so hot and humid recently, I opted for the crock pot. I used no water and put them on low. They softened in a few hours. I love the crock pot. What an invention! I use it to cook chicken in the summer. Any roast meat will do. I never use water. It will toughen the meat. Just let it stew in its own juices for an indeterminable amount of time. It will fall effortlessly off its bones.
About beets: I love them cold with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette. If you have a bumper crop, try pickling them. Here is the recipe from Stocking Up by the staff of Organic Gardening and Farming:
1 gallon small beets
1 long stick cinnamon
1 quart apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon allspice
1 cup honey
Combine the vinegar and spices and simmer for 15 minutes, pour over the beets, add honey and process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Yields seven or eight pints.
More than 10,000 signatures have been filed to rename a San Francisco sewage treatment plant after G.W. Bush. A member of a group of supporters said, “We think that it is important to remember our leaders in the right historical context.” The sewage treatment facility’s job is to clean up a mess, so we think it is a fitting tribute.”