LJR Enterprises

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Month: July, 2008

Useful Info

by Scott Smith

I get this email newsletter from Dr. Mercola. I don’t remember signing up for it, but I’m sure I did at some point. I usually glance through it and delete it, but today I read How the Government is Causing the Global Food Crisis. Among several tips to use your dollars to avoid being a part of it is this:

Look at Produce Stickers. The PLU code for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers, organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number 9, and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number 8.

I read labels and try to buy as much organic food as possible. I now have a useful tool for avoiding genetically modified crops.

Salmonella Hot Pepper?

by Scott Smith

Can a jalapeƱo pepper really be the culprit for a salmonella outbreak? I mean, the little buggers have antibiotic properties and I’ve read that, in very large doses, some peppers even have antiviral properties.

And anyway, as Scott pointed out, how can one be sure what is happening to them is the salmonella or the pepper?

The Pears of Lives Past

by Scott Smith

The very first house I owned as an adult was in Wabash, Indiana. It was built just before the Great Depression and had been quickly sectioned off to make the upstairs a rentable apartment. We were the first people to own it not direct descendants of the original builders. The house and yard were a mess but there were a couple of fruit trees. There was a Transparent Apple that was a prolific producer in spite of much neglect from previous tenants and no care from me. I was too ignorant to appreciate what I had until I described the early drop of the apples, overripe in late July and the mushy texture to an elderly woman at Garden Club. She explained to me that what I had was an heirloom, a treasure that not many were graced with anymore. Of course, the next year, when I was ready for a harvest the tree produced nothing as if to spite me for my inability to appreciate her goodness. The year after that we (Madeleine on my hip, Coleman in the womb) were off to Indianapolis.

The greatest treasure that yard contained, in my opinion, was a pear tree that most people would have cut down. Most of the trunk was rotted. I remember examining it to see what was keeping the top alive and found a section of the trunk that was about an inch or 2 in diameter. That tree wanted to live. We left it alone and were rewarded with the most delicious pears I have ever tasted in my life. They were tart and sweet and rich with a texture like butter and the juice ran down your chin no matter how neatly you tried to eat them. Even canned they retained that indescribable sweet-tartness that I’ve never found a match for. That was about 15 years ago and my mouth still waters when I think about them. Of course, there was no one to tell me what variety of Pear that was and while I look through catalog offerings of all manner of heirloom pears, I know I will never find the right one.

We have a pear tree here that produces like a trooper, but it cannot satisfy my desire for a truly delicious pear. The texture is grainier, the flavor is watered down… They are merely adequate. I want something spectacular.

Hatred for the Vegetable Garden

by Scott Smith

I hate my vegetable garden this year. I really do. I think it’s because I worked so hard on prep this year, knowing that my time in the garden would be limited by the fact that I’m working full time at an office job now. I weeded and weeded and then weeded some more before laying out my mother’s extravagant gift of that black, fabric weed barrier. I carefully laid it out, secured it with the earth staples, planted in careful rows. The most magical thing about the fabric is it’s ability to levitate. The weeds raised the fabric, pulling the pins clean out of the ground. So, now weeding is even harder because I have to move the fabric out of the way in order to do it. I’m crushed and my produce sucks.

However, Barb! saved me from my black mood by sending me an email full of links to the concept of the ‘edible forest.’ I’ve thought about edible landscapes but the edible forest takes this to a new level that hadn’t occurred to me, although I realize it’s been going on for a long time. You basically use plants that produce foods that you like (and that do well in your area) and lay them out in a way that borrows from the structure of a ‘natural’ forest. Some of the plants produce food for the gardener, others produce food for the other plants, and of course all of it feeds nature by attracting birds and a healthy balance of insects. I’m thinking about planting cherry trees around the existing tree in front of the barn, black raspberries around the edges, comfrey for ground cover (and food for the chickens apparently), and I’ll figure the rest out from there. I might even get really ambitious and inoculate some wood with mushroom spore.

Next year, the formal vegetable garden will be given over to the asparagus (which I hope to expand), and lettuces, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini will be planted among the perennials, and somewhere there will be a strawberry patch. I’ve had it with fighting the formal weed vegetable garden.

The fabric won’t go to waste. It will be used for paths… I’ll lay down cardboard, a sheet of killing compost, the fabric and then a nice thick layer of mulch. We’ll see what the weeds have to say about that.

A couple morel links:

MSU Student Organic Farm
Oikos Tree Crops