29Jun2008

Who will come to my Prom?

(Spencer’s Post – forgot to log in as himself…) We got our tomatoes planted in the hoophouse a little late this year, having planted the last ones just a week ago Friday. The reason? Fava beans. Our fava beans went in the hoophouse in early March (see the blog entry from March 30th) and were watered in by shovelling snow onto the bed! After all that we hesitated for several weeks to pull them out and put in the tomatoes. Besides, the grafted tomatoes took a little longer to recover and grow large enough to be ready to transplant. Then by the time the tomatoes were ready, the favas were almost big enough to harvest, so we decided to wait and let them get big enough for us to try. We harvested all the beans out on Wednesday, June 18th, pulling up the plants and picking the largest beans from each stalk. We ended up with 96 pounds from about 90 bed feet and sold 30 pounds to our accounts and 66 pounds at market one Saturday. Preparing and eating fresh fava beans was a first for us this year and we really enjoyed them. We found it was best to shell the beans from the pods, then blanch them for about 1 1/2 minutes, then pop the beans out of their second layer jacket and eat them without further preparation. They were also delicious raw as I ate many of them in giving multiple preparation demos at market. Overall, the fava beans were a hit and we hope to plant many more of them next year in our Haygrove hoophouse (still doesn’t feel like a sure shot, but more on that later, when we know more).

The essential preparation for tomato planting in the hoophouse is to tie up the strings that we will clip the plants to as they grow. We tie exactly 482 strings in the whole house and even though we are planting half as many plants, we are training them with double leaders this year and so still need the same number of strings since each one now gets two. The string tying task is composed of two parts. First, cutting the strings, done while watching The Mole or Hell’s Kitchen. Second, standing on a ladder, usually in the hot sun, reaching up and tying one half hitch for each string around a high tensile wire. I often gripped the structure’s pipes for support and stability and each time would include a few flies in my grasp. The sound of the summer bugs in against the plastic roof is what we call “upside-down bug rain,” mimicking exactly the sound of a real rainstorm on the outside of the plastic. I love the view of the hoophouse from the top of the ladder, a whole new perspective, and as the house fills with strings blowing in the breeze, I began to feel that it had a rather festive look. I told Mara, “I feel like I am decorating for the prom.” Now, I never actually decorated for prom, but if I had, I am sure it would have involved some sort of tying up of handing streamers.
Mara asked, “What would the theme of your prom be?”

“The Tangled Web We Weave” I replied. Now I feel like this is a great name for a senior prom, incorporating both the sense of high school clique politics and the bright, yet uncertain future ahead.

Without any hesitation, Mara’s immediate response was, “No one is coming to your prom.”

Too nerdy, is the reason given. Well, I have been guilty of being far too nerdy in many occasions, as I have often thought of myself as a part of the uncool conspiracy, a member of that dark alliance who conspires to follow the rules (and where they are lacking, to write the rules and then, follow them) and by doing so, to make others feel conspicuous in not breaking the rules. Now, even my prom is deemed too nerdy, too academic for public consumption. Troubling as this may be, I think that when the tomatoes join the party, everyone will want to attend. For now we just wait for the VIPs (Very Important Plants) to arrive.

Meanwhile, we have been enjoying the bounty of our other crops and, today, fixing our garage door at home. The bottom panel of our door rotted away this winter and, helped by a gentle smash with the car, finally gave out in March sometime. After looking at cheap crappy doors for $200 at Home Depot and getting quotes for replacement wood doors in the thousand dollar range, we decided to rebuild the door with some scraps left from our deck project from last year. Total cost, about $25. This allowed me to get a vacuum sealer for frost-free freezing of our produce and the summer’s berries. Huzzah! Now, I must get back to making my small batch of potato wine from last year’s final blue potatoes. And just so you know, potato wine is different from vodka, since vodka is distilled from fermented potatoes. So nerdy!
Caption: Before
Caption: New panel made from 2x4s and masonite
The final result, a new-looking door!
Just for fun, Smeems and Bullet eating carrots during harvest last Friday. Mr. Smeems is a sloppy eater and is losing a piece!

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