I spent an extraordinary amount of time watching television this past week. The footage from the hurricane aftermath was so amazing and scary. I don’t think any photograph could do it justice. We certainly dodged a bullet here on the Vineyard.
Violet and I went to Lucy Vincent Beach on Tuesday morning. We got a small picture of the ocean’s power. The beach was barely recognizable.
I was thinking about the people affected in New Jersey and New York. Life can be difficult enough in good times, nevermind with no electricity. I know for me, two days were given over to the storm. One to put everything away, store water, find candles, buy batteries and cancel work and appointments. Then, on Tuesday, flip chairs and tables back over in the yard, move buckets and jugs out of my way in the house, drive around looking at damage on job sites and, as previously mentioned, turning on the television. I must confess, however, I did enjoy last Monday — being housebound. I rarely get to spend the day at home. I’m a gadabout even if I’m not working.
The gardens took a hit, although not nearly as bad as expected. Most of the tall annuals blew over, but since we have not had a freeze, the shorter ageratums, classic variety of zinnias, alyssums and patio dahlias still look great. Most of the vegetables fared well. Peppers, eggplants and tomatoes, not so much. They were at the end of their usefulness anyway. There are still plenty of carrots, radishes, celeriac, leeks, lettuce, spinach and kale. I have set a goal this week to transplant some of the cold-weather crops into my hoophouse. Last year I was able to eat all winter from my fall transplants and then some very early seedings. I think I threw some lettuce seeds down in February and had moderate success.
Now is the time to plant garlic and spring flower bulbs. Don’t get in a panic. You still have plenty of time. I’ve been known to figuratively jack-hammer into frozen soil in order to toss in the last of the daffodils. They still came up at their appointed time and bloomed. Nature is so forgiving.
I cut some runners from my strawberry plants and potted them up in the greenhouse. My friend, Sharlee, had some in her hoophouse which produced a full two weeks ahead of the outdoor plantings. I feel like the scene in The Graduate: “I have one word for you, Benjamin. Plastics!” It is incredible how much food can be produced off-season under a single layer of six mil.
Speaking of strawberries, I grew some alpine ones from seed this year. The plants are easily a foot in diameter and have dozens of nearly ripe berries. I’ve been eating a few daily. They are so sweet and delicious. I never see them in the market. What a pity! They also serve as an ornamental. They do not send out runners so can be left on a bed border for years. I’ve mentioned them before but I’m nothing if not redundant. They are also referred to as fraise du bois.
In your spare time you could be spreading some fresh wood chips around the blueberry bushes. They love the added acidity and your spring weeding chores will be lessened.
I’m turning into a social butterfly. This was my second Saturday night in a row at the Agricultural Hall. This past week the annual Barn Raisers’ Ball was the place to be. It was packed with an eclectic cast of Island characters of every possible age. We had a blast.
One of my favorite political topics is picking on the brand-name food conglomerates. Since I’m writing before the election, what I don’t know is a lot. I can’t wait to hear about California’s Right to Know Genetically Modified Food Act known as Proposition 37. In an article by Jim Hightower entitled Big Food Behemoths Embarrass Their Organic Offshoots, I found that Kellogg owns Kashi cereals, General Mills owns Muir Glen, a top producer of organic canned tomatoes. Worse, Dean Foods, a huge “conventional” dairy company, owns Horizon Organic milk. Just so you know, organic doesn’t mean the product doesn’t contain genetically-modified ingredients. They do not have to tell you. Hopefully Prop. 37 passes.
This will be my 13th presidential election. So far my vote has only counted five times since I chose Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater. Thanks, by the way, to L.B.J. for Medicare. Hope we get to keep it!