Fine Gin Grown Here!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The fall vegetable crop is now planted and coming up nicely!

Well -- most of it is planted anyway. The wonderful wife that is Venus still has a few more rows left to go in one of the raised beds -- but by this weekend? We're hoping to put the finishing touches on a gorgeous fall crop of nothing but nutritous and wonderful things for the body.

Yes -- that includes the finest gin available in a plastic bottle! And if you don't think you can't grow fine gin in a plastic bottle next to Baby Bok Choy or red-leaf lettuce -- well -- you haven't witnessed the wife's wonderful green finger.

Everything the woman plants from seed? It grows. It not only grows -- it grows EXTREMELY WELL. So -- although the "gardening experts" might tell you that you can't grow the finest gin that comes in a plastic bottle from seed -- well -- it doesn't hurt to try -- does it?

We'll let you know what happens around Christmas. If you find that Bill & Venus Bird are involved in a very MERRY holiday -- you'll know that our little experiment worked just fine.

What grows well in the Sacramento Valley during the fall and winter months? Pick a crop! That's the wonderful thing about our area. As summer slowly transitions into fall -- it brings a wealth of "growth" opportunities.

As for the wife? She likes to plant from seed. She won't turn her nose up at some starter plants -- and we do like to support our local nurseries -- so you'll always find us with starter plants of broccoli, chard or one of many wonderful lettuce selections (lettuce tends to extremely well in our North Natomas Back 40).

But for most selections? Venus starts -- and ends -- with a packet of seeds either purchased locally or from one of many seed providers scattered about the country. We happen to be partial to an operation called Pinetree Garden Seeds. They're not local. Not hardly. They happen to be located in a small section of New Gloucester, Maine.

But we keep going back to them for a simple reason: Everything that we buy from them -- works. They've never let us down. I've never opened one bad package of seed provided by Pinetree Garden Seeds -- and that's the honest truth. Plus -- they're cheap -- which doesn't hurt.

Still -- if you're undecided as to what you'd like to plant in your backyard for the coming fall season -- you can't go wrong with the handy-dandy Farmer Fred Hoffman Planting Guide. Plus -- he also blogged about his favorite fall selections not all that long ago.

But he didn't have fine gin that comes in a plastic bottle on his list -- remember that much.

The first step we always take in planting our fall garden is recharging the raised beds that held part of our summer garden. The second step? Chasing "that damn dog" away from the raised beds that have just been recently amended. Bandi seems to have this belief that she was a Mantis Tiller in a former life. Solving that little "digging problem" has been problematic to say the least -- although I've found a gadget called The Scarecrow to be quite effective (it shoots a stream of water at anything that crosses its path).

If only I had ten of them...

We are recharging the beds with some different materials this fall. Venus and I recently switched to a new form of compost called "Paydirt" that we purchased from Capital Nursery in Sacramento. This is a little more expensive than the cheaper forms of Steer Manure Compost that we had been purchasing from Home Depot -- but we decided to make the switch for a number of reasons:

1. This is a better form of compost for our raised beds. We use these beds a lot. Treat them with good form of compost and they will treat you well in the form of vegetable crop production.
2. Paydirt Compost is an organic form of compost. We're not 100% organic mind you -- and may never get there -- but we try!
3. The illegal pot growers already snapped up the really good Fox Farm Compost!

Illegal Pot Grower: "We did not! I mean -- we're not growing anything!"

Me: "Then why is your name Illegal Pot Grower?"

Illegal Pot Grower: "DOH!"

The results -- so far -- have been better than we ever could have hoped. Every single one of Venus' seed rows has sprung to life -- and the starter plants that we purchased are also doing remarkably well.

Broccoli and Swiss Chard starter plants
We're not done -- of course -- not by a longshot. Venus and I will begin the process of planting seed garlic and onion starts next month -- and there's always another row to plant or another experimental vegetable to try. Who knows? We may put the test bed to work this fall instead of reserving it for "summertime use only."

I know I can count on one thing: The seeds that Venus planted earlier this month will result in a nice salad serving for ten-to-15 guests for our annual family Thanksgiving celebration. The Baby Bok Choy serves as a wonderful green to brighten those warm soups in the dead cold of winter. And there's nothing like fresh swiss chard and spinach in a turkey taco salad dinner.

We're not writing the summer garden off quite yet either. As long as we have heat -- we'll get tomatoes. There's still another watermelon to harvest -- the bell peppers aren't quite done yet -- and we might be able to squeeze another jar or two of pickles from the cucumber plantings.

But as for fall? The greens are jumping!

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