Saturday, January 31, 2009

Raab and rapine in the garden

I had some brassica drama within the last month in the garden. A few weeks ago I noticed some gray stuff on my broccoli raab. I washed it off, sauteed the tips and leaves in some garlic and chili flakes, and ate it. No problem. A week later that gray stuff was all over the broccoli raab. Looking closer I saw grayish green tiny bugs all over the poor traumatized plants. Bye bye broccoli raab. I ripped it all up, threw it out and proceeded to inspect the rest of the garden.

The imperialist bastards had colonies everywhere! All my brassicas had been affected. The collards, broccoli, and cauliflower were hit hard, but the largest malefaction was perpetrated on the mustard greens and kale. They were completely covered and unsaveable. I ripped out the greens, but on the advice of a fellow gardener I cut the kale down to stumps. I picked the damaged leaves off the rest of the plants, squished a lot of bugs, and took a leaf home to identify the offendants. My research identified the culprits as mealy cabbage aphids and what I read proved brassicas were their primary victims. I also read that lady bugs and wasps were both eaters of aphids. Another aphid fact: each aphid can lay 5 eggs a day. Terrifying.

This week I have seen lady bugs hanging out in my collards and broccoli. They must have found the buffet. With diligence and lady bug help I have managed to keep the aphids down to just a few here and there, showing no mercy as I find them. The kale is coming back strong since I top dressed it with some compost and here's a picture of some huge radishes I grew. Things are looking up.



Here is a video of a volcano erupting out of ice. There's even lightning!

Found at Neatorama

Friday, January 30, 2009

Vegetarian harassment

I think everyone who is a vegetarian has experienced some harassment. Mostly I have just gotten snickers or rude comments. Often people are clueless about what vegetarianism is and ask a lot of questions placing me in the position of explaining vegetarianism. I end up being a de facto representative for all people who don't eat meat; that's exhausting when all I want to do is chow down. Even my own family has been intolerant at times and ridiculed me. The worst thing was having meat put into my food "as a joke." Yeah, I was laughing after that.

Here's an article about a man who was fired from his job because he was vegetarian. His boss thought he was gay. The discrimination just keeps coming.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Brain: "City bad, nature good"

A nifty article in the Boston Globe called "How the city hurts your brain" says:

"'The mind is a limited machine,' says Marc Berman, a psychologist at the University of Michigan and lead author of a new study that measured the cognitive deficits caused by a short urban walk. 'And we're beginning to understand the different ways that a city can exceed those limitations.'

One of the main forces at work is a stark lack of nature, which is surprisingly beneficial for the brain. Studies have demonstrated, for instance, that hospital patients recover more quickly when they can see trees from their windows, and that women living in public housing are better able to focus when their apartment overlooks a grassy courtyard. Even these fleeting glimpses of nature improve brain performance, it seems, because they provide a mental break from the urban roil.'...

"This research is also leading some scientists to dabble in urban design, as they look for ways to make the metropolis less damaging to the brain. The good news is that even slight alterations, such as planting more trees in greater variety of plants, can significantly reduce the negative side effects of city life. The mind needs nature, and even a little bit can be a big help."

I'm a city girl and I can attest that hustle and bustle, and expanses of concrete can be tiring. Maybe that's why moving to a city pumped up my love of green growing things.

Article found on Neatorama Pictures found in the Austin Street Art Pool on Flickr

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cauliflower and Tomatoes

Holy moly! Check out this sucker I got from my garden. I've been meaning to cook it but knew it would sit in the fridge for a little while and get old. So last night its time came and it had grown quite a bit. I also got some cilantro for a curry and some mint for a yogurt dish. When I washed it there were little water droplets shining like jewels and its almost a pretty upside down as right side up. I felt a little guilty cutting into it.
These green onions are wild onions that grow in a vacant lot. I know it's risky to eat wild foods but I was raised in the country and I know wild onions. If I saw mushrooms or anything I didn't 100% recognize I wouldn't eat it. When it doubt throw it out (or compost it.) Our horses used to eat wild onions and their already bad breath would turn truly horrible.

And here's it cooked and you can see the chives all over it. Spicy cauliflower, Yum.

These tomatoes were green two weeks ago and I put them all together in a bag and promptly forgot about them. I remembered just in time and they were all ripe and rosy. The bag trick works! They and the cilantro went into a curry and it was delicious. I should have gotten a picture of that too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

How do I look?

A new year, a new look. I think it works.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ping Mag link heaven

NNoooooooo! I just found out that Ping Mag my favorite Japanese culture resource is on hiatus. This is horrible news. They'll still be online and their articles will be accessible but no more articles will be published. Here are a few links to my favorites.

Guerrilla gardening in Tokyo. If plants were put out in public spaces here they would disappear due to sticky fingers/overzealous landscaping. Or they would die, because it never rains. Damn you Texas weather!

Japanese Packaging design#6: Imitating nature. Incredibly cool packaging both the real thing and artificial. The only things packaged in natural materials here in the US are tamales in corn husks, and even then they're usually wrapped in plastic.

Funny Vegetables, shapes and characters.

Super cool recycled and reused art work.

And lots of art that has plants and plants that are art.

And then there is all the cool architecture features, many about sustainable living and natural influences. The archives go back a few years and the browsing is fun. Check it out.

Green Man

I was doing a Google image search for an art project and I needed some pictures of the Green Man to tap my creative juices.

I found some great images. According to Wikipedia: "the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages."

It's a pre-Christian symbol that is used in many ancient cathedrals and churches in Europe. In Britain many pubs are called "The Green Man" or some variation. Way to hang in there pagan culture! If you do a Google image search of "Carved Green Man" you'll get some pictures of some beautiful carvings in stone and all kinds of cool materials.

Just some neato cultural inspiration for those interested in green and growing things.

Feed me, garden!

Since I've gotten my fingers back in the dirt it amazes me how many plants weathered my neglect just fine! That's no excuse to neglect them more but it does prove the incredible resilience of plant life, I wish I could say the same about my house plants. The other day I was poking around in the garden and brought home quite a haul!

From right to left Broccoli Raab or Rapini or whatever you want to call it. Radishes (Daikon and French breakfast) Radichio on the right and out in front are peas which love this cool weather. I need to plant more.

Here are the salads I made. The red pepper and spinach wasn't grown in my garden but everything else was. Yum.I used the Rapini in a Broccoli and Rice casserole (I love this dish!) It wasn't bad and the leftovers are pretty good cold. The cheeses I used were Parmesan, Monterey jack and cheddar. Next time, I'll skip the jack and just go all cheddar with a little parm. The rappini is more bitter than broccoli and could use more of the savory sharp cheddar accompaniment.I made bread sticks, oooh la la.

And the piece de resistance! Black cherry jello served in wine glasses. Keepin' it classy.