Five Things Friday: where I assemble assorted favorites, oddities, time-sensitive announcements, discoveries, random thoughts, life tidbits and whatever else wasn’t long enough for a real post.
What I’ve Been Reading
Articles from around the interwoobles that I read this past week. If it’s in this list it made me raise a single eyebrow, gesticulate wildly, or guffaw inappropriately.
In Which The Neural Network Gets Bored Halfway Through Making Cookies (Postcards From The Frontiers Of Science) The funniest thing I read this week. Sure the AI can play chess, but can it bake?
Living on water: Welcome to Freedom Cove (CBS News) Warning: link auto-plays video accompaniment to article. Hate that shit, but the story is really interesting. Ever thought about escaping it all by becoming a sea-steader? This couple in British Columbia has build an off-grid floating mini-island for a home.
Forget About Being a Good Writer (And Do This Instead) (The Mission) I like writing, and I think I’m passably capable at it, but I’m not a writer in Maya Angelou or Ernest Hemingway sense. I’ve never kept a personal diary or a journal. I’ve never dreamed of publishing my Great American Novel. I just like to create things, and I often use words to do so. From that lowbrow perspective, I agree with everything in this article.
Sea Salt Is Contaminated With Micro Plastics, Study Finds (Digital Journal) Nature study confirms that the plastic situation is just as bad as you thought.
Slow Flowers Bouquet of The Week
Local, sustainable, slow flowers are the newest big deal in gardening. Nothing’s more local than your backyard! This week I gathered Chinese wisteria, lilac, columbine, Rosa rugosa, and Russian comfrey.
I’m not a flower person so don’t ask me for varieties or anything. Common ones, almost certainly. I liked the little pop of pink from the rose, but all the petals fell off within a day. Sad! Is that normal for Rugosa roses, does anyone know?
The more I look, the more I think I overdid the droopy wisteria. But, it does smell very lovely in the front hall.
Cool Plant of The Week – Tree Collards!
The folks at Project Tree Collard were kind enough to send me three baby cuttings of perennial tree collards.
You really see the value of perennials when you stop gardening for a year. I was like, “No, stop, I don’t want fresh organic food for free,” and the garden was like, “Too bad, sucker! You’re getting it anyway.”
That’s perennials for ya.
So I’m really excited. I love me some cooking greens, and tree collards are a very interesting plant. They grow a big leaf like a kale or a collard from a stalk that will get 6 to 10 feet tall. If left to their own devices, the plant eventually will get so tall it will fall over and send new shoots up from the original stalk. Or, with some easy pruning, you can keep tree collards more bushy.
Project Tree Collard is shipping purple tree collards now – that’s what they sent me. I received the well-rooted cuttings in great condition in little peat pots. I’m still evaluating where to plant them permanently, so I transplanted them up into gallon size pots while I ponder.
Tree collards should be hardy in most years in most of lowland Cascadia. They are rated as hardy in zones 8-10, and marginally hardy in zone 7. I’m thinking tree collards should be treated similarly to artichokes here in the Northwest – deep mulch in the winter, and keep a few baby starts inside just in case we get one of those several-week-long bouts of hard freeze.
Tree collards seem to be very popular in the Southwest because they tolerate heat – including triple digits – extremely well and very rarely go to seed. I’m looking forward to seeing how these plants do in my garden. I’m a bit of a kale snob, so I have high standards for my cooking greens.
If you’ve grown tree collards, I’d love your tips!
Big thanks to Project Tree Collard for the opportunity to try this plant!
What I’m Loving – Decent Nail Clippers
I’ve only ever had cheap nail clippers. This is because I have been a chronic, hardcore nail biter pretty much since my milk teeth came in. One day I’ll tell you the story of how my publisher insisted I be the hand model for the photos in my book. Hilarity and fake nails ensued.
Anyway, Homebrew Husband, tired of our pathetic drugstore clippers, ordered a two-pack of these.
Now I see what I’ve been missing my whole life. Big increase in quality for tiny increase in price.
I have used Tweezerman tweezers for years and won’t use anything else, but I had no idea they also made nail clippers. These are sweet clippers – heavy and well-made feeling. It’s so much nicer trimming fingernails (if you have any), toenails and your kid’s nails with quality nail clippers. My only complaint is they don’t have that dirt scraper attachment thingie.
Quote I’m Pondering
Normally this is the kind of quote I’d mentally bin as “Inspirational Cat Poster” and ignore. However…let’s just say it feels very me-in-real-life at the moment.
I spent a fair bit of the year I wasn’t here
wallowing in shit I have absolutely no control over being a very informed citizen. This gave me a very good understanding of lots of rather terrible things, but no additional ability to influence any of them.
So it’s nice to be creating again.
I see a lot of people responding to things they can’t control these days with competitive, yet impotent, outrage. Turning oneself into a conduit for outrage porn seems to be the new form of social proof. But what does it really accomplish?
Take it from me, friends: get off the outrage drip. You think you’re getting fired up, but really you’re getting anesthetized. Can’t move while you’re plugged in, man. And while I’m ranting, Facebook is a complete dumpster fire.
So try another approach. Go do something. Go grow something. Go make something.
• • •
Ok, friends, that’s it for this week’s Five Things Friday. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!
Mary P Hall says
Perennials…yeah. What about perennial-like behavior because you’re a lazy gardener?
Some stuff I plant every year, like tomatoes and peppers and some stuff…well, it THINKS it’s a perennial, cause it came back from last year. Like squash and green beans and potatoes (oops, guessed a missed one or two or five). I was just out in the garden and noticed, hey, those look like squash seedlings, but I haven’t planted squash yet…and hey, are they green bean sprouts over there?
And potatoes, can we just talk about how I’m apparently a great potato grower, but apparently not so much of a great potato harvester, ’cause there freaking potatoes growing in places that I haven’t planted potatoes in YEARS.
I’m a sloppy gardener. I’m a bohemian gardener. I dump in the broken straw from the chicken coop and the partially finished compost from the compost bins and pull and drop any weeds. I dig a hold and stick a seedling and mulch with straw–i.e. spread straw around seedlings so there will a possibility of less weeds, when really, as long as the stuff I plant is growing taller than the stuff I don’t want, I’m cool.
But, hey, free food, right?
I’m on year 3 of attempting to get a direct seeded tomato plant to make a ripened tomato. So far, no dice. If your plants come back healthy and ripen I’d say that’s a blessing. Except my experience with squash volunteers is you get a lot of crazy mutts.
We got it to work, Erica! Well, sort of. We used a water wall and early ripening varieties. Cherries and russians. And there weren’t a LOT of tomatoes on there. But…I think it counts as a direct-seeded (sort of) success.
Yeah but I’m looking for the holy grail – put seeds in ground in Seattle in April/May without additional cloching, have decent tasting tomatoes to harvest by August. It might be impossible. But if it’s not…we must keep trying! 😀
jane parks says
Never very successful with our volunteer tomato plants. But I still keep a few and replant in a row hoping that somehow the original hybrid seeds will mute into a famous tomato variety that I can market and become rich and famous. :^). At best, these volunteers have produced lots of cherry or small-like tomatoes. Also, here in Illinois, we do keep 2 or 3 of the volunteer squash plants because they produce fruit much earlier than the ones we plant. Yes, they are mutts but picked while skin is still very tender they cook up like a summer squash. My husband and I always anticipate our first squash dish with added onions, bacon and/or butter. Peeling or seeding them is not needed. We pull the plants when our cultivated squash start to bear.
Erica, thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, your experiences and your motivational articles with us. As a 74 year old conservative from the Midwest, I know we differ on many cultural and political issues. However, as bona fide gardeners, we are one!
Hi Jane, I really want to say thank you for your kind words. I live on the left coast, but it really pains me to see how divided our country seems at the moment. I’ve maintained for a long time, way before politics got quite so rigid and divisive, that food, growing food, and food sovereignty issues are some of the great bridge-issue of our time. I’m glad you are here.
Mike @ Gentleman Homestead says
I’m not familiar with Tree Collards at all. Now I need to know more…….
(Oh, and welcome back. We missed ya.)
Thank you Mike!
I have tried rooting tree collards twice to no avail. I’m in zone 9A and they rot on me at some point.
I’ll probably try again and they will rot again and maybe I’ll get the hint now.
re: Facebook—Twitter has joined that dumpster fire. I left FB two years ago and just recently took a break from Twitter but I think I’m done. Insta has my heart because hey, pretty pictures! I miss the days of Flickr. And the days when everyone and their dog wasn’t online.
PS: I love your 5 Things Fridays. 🙂
I miss the days of blogrolls and link-ups and all that vintage blogging jazz. I was on a blog the other day, and they had maybe 8 blogs on their blogroll list in the sidebar. One was mine and I knew almost all the others. Only one other site on the list was still active. I get old and cranky sometimes, “back in my day, you searched with Lycos and you hand coded frames if you wanted a so-called sidebar!”
Brad Ward says
Erica can become the Jocko Willink of the homesteading crew… GET TO IT!!! =)
Ah, man, now I have another podcast to follow!
Tyler Close says
I have been growing Tree Collards for three years now in zone 9b. Just two plants produce more than my family of four consumes. They seem to grow faster as you harvest more. I have two main growing tips.
The cabbage worms love them. For a couple weeks each year when the worms show up, you’ll have to pick them all off or they will devour everything. Though, I failed to do this one year and the plant did come back.
The leaves are big and the stalks are not, so after rain or a heavy dew, the tops of the plant get too heavy and fall over, snapping the stalk. So you’ll want to build a trellis around the plant right away. The plant doesn’t seem to climb the trellis itself, so you’ll also need to attach it yourself as it grows.
Thanks for the trellis tip! Cabbage worms are always a battle up here in cabbage land – I’ll definitely keep an eye on that.
I planted tree collards two years ago. My chickens thought they were amazing. No more tree collards. Well, now there’s no more chickens, so I should try again! Though, let us know how they handle the PNW slugs. The slugs DECIMATED my spring brassicas this year. I know not to start from seed…they absolutely obliterated my transplants. 😐
I’m thinking more and more along the lines of perennials, especially medicinal plants. What can I grow year after year that is aesthetically pretty, will result in reduced weeding, and I can use in the rest of my life. More natives. More flowers. More herbs. In my current set up, annual gardening may just not be for me. My garden bed was built basically in Zone 4. I need it to be in Zone 1. Until I want to build new deer-proof beds into Zone 1, I don’t see this getting the attention it requires to keep things alive and slug-proof.
Regarding the slugs, I was on it this year with the Sluggo, and things are much better. You have to catch the slugs before they lay their eggs, so I was out Sluggo-ing in February and March. I still run out and re-sprinkle every couple of weeks, but this year is WAY better than last year. Of course, I’ll need to buy stock in Sluggo…I fully expect to go through my 10 lb jug on one year!
Homebrew Husband says
Thanks for the reminder…time to go re-apply…
“10 lb jug” – so assuming you know, but the most cost effective place to buy sluggo is Costco. 😀
Chicken-friendly gardens are possible. Garden-friendly chickens is a huge lie. 😉
Will report back on the slug-situation with the tree collards. I can tell you my black plastic mulch has completely protected my transplants from slugs….because it gets so hot it cooks them. Sadly, it also cooks any leaves that touch it! 😮 Always something.
Re Zone: my backyard garden – the main one – is 5 really energetic leaps from my backdoor. And there are many days when it still feels far away. Totally get it.
Ien van Houten says
Great to have you posting again! You remind me to finish the garden blog post about spring. Or rather, late winter, now rapidly segueing into summer without much in between. Before I read the rest a quick note on your lovely flowers. Indeed, those old variety roses are not meant to be cut flowers. They were notorious for coming and going in a day, which is why lecherous poets loved using them as a metaphor. There is a whole genre of “Mignonne allons voir si la rose”. http://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/pierre_de_ronsard/mignonne_allons_voir_si_la_rose.html
Basic moral: see, these flowers do not last, neither will your youth, so let me at you now….
Good to know! I will enjoy them for the brief flower and the hips and not try them in the vase again.
We have free range kale because of you, Erica. A few years ago, maybe four, I planted varieties that you recommended, a red something and maybe a White Russian. I don’t know, but my laziness meant that several went to seed, and no new kale was planted in the backyard, yet kale grew. At this point, I have the coolest kale around, all sorts of variations in coloring and leaf shape, plus free food!
Oh, and Mary’s comment about the potatoes… apparently I am terrible at harvesting. I thought they’d rot, sitting in the wet soil all year (esp all winter). Who knew?!? (Probably lots of people, but now I do, too.)
Free range kale is the best! I’ve had a mystery blend going here for several years, too! The self-seeded kale plants are always healthier.
I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and really, really love it! I was looking for some tips for gardening in the NW b/c my apartment building has a community garden and really love your writing style. No rudeness to other gardening blogs but a lot of them are a little too…nice…for me. I like that you swear and tell things like it is! Oh, and I ended up getting your book, and I LOVE it.
Just wanted to say that I totally get the quote thing. Being a “concerned citizen” has been really hard and I’ve been sucked into this hole of anger and despair and creating really is a good way to fight back. I think I’m going to print that quote out and hang it EVERYWHERE.
Glad you’re back and feeling up to the blog and garden!
Welcome to the community and thanks for your kind words! I hope you will stick around. I checked out your site and it’s great! Good luck focusing on creating. I really do think making is a balm for turbulent minds.
I am with you on the whole impotent outrage thing. I deactivated my Facebook account a couple of months ago and have not looked back. People claim they miss me but I so do not miss it. I was sick of hearing about how the sky was falling. Every. Single. Day. I’m gardening like mad and I love it.
There is something really, deeply unhealthy about a life defined by the virtual..it spins you up with nothing to anchor you. The earth always anchors. She’s good that way.
krystal levine says
Love purple tree collards! I’ve been experimenting with them for 4 or 5 years.
I bought a couple at Annie’s Annuals (East Bay California) and have had them about 5 years. They’ve been transplanted all over the property, full sun, partial shade, full shade and do well everywhere. They do best in partial shade when you’re not watering as often. I harvest year round, (California.)
The second year, one of the plants went to seed. The nursery I bought them from had never had theirs go to seed. I took that as a sign for a little breeding project. 100% of the seeds germinated! Some were true, some were collards some were purple kale. All along I’ve been rooting cuttings from the new growth, last fall I realized you can take cuttings from the entire branch! So I have the original two mothers, about 10 cuttings that are 2 and 3 years old and an experimental garden of the seedlings. Lots of fun!
Fantastic! Thank you for the vote of tree collard confidence! I love your tree collard seed experiments. What I’m absorbing is – if mine ever go to seed, save the seed, because everything from the seeds will be interesting, if not exactly like mama plant.
Your bouquet is lovely. I agree with your comments regarding your “inspirational quote”. Sometimes I see one that actually means something to me. My recent favorite is “If you don’t like where you are, move. You’re not a tree.”
Great quote. I think that applies emotionally, too, not just physically.
Homebrew Husband says
So I’m so glad those nail clippers got some press! To me, there’s a philosophical point at work there that ties in with the minimalism/essentialism that’s been a bit of a theme here lately as well. I’ve realized that I’m far better off (or at least far happier) getting ONE good thing rather than a whole bunch of “cheap” things. Whether it is nail clippers that work, last, and have a nice heft to them or exactly five pairs of identical wool socks that are warm, last, and are comfortable, or having one car that does everything I need of it, is reliable, and is comfortable – this seems so much better than having crappy clippers that don’t work that I throw away or lose, a sock drawer full of holey, mis-matched cheap socks, or a couple of cars that are ultimately redundant save that one-in-a-thousand day when we both need to drive someplace at the same time. I’d rather take the time to find and save for the RIGHT solution rather than just plunge into something half-assed. In this way I see some similarities between the minimalism/essentialism movements and the craftsman movement of last century – a reaction against the sloppy ease offered by consumerism and mass production and towards a more curated selection of “stuff” that we actually appreciate. Cheers!
Thank you, thank you for the recommendation of Postcards from the Frontiers of Science. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. The post you linked to is hilarious and it just keeps getting better as you keep reading the rest of them. Clearly AI has a long way to go before we have to worry about it taking over the world.
Good thing, too, right?! Glad you liked it.
Homebrew Husband says
Yeah, I have a lot less fear of our Robot Overlords. If they ever do take over the world, at least we’ll have some good laughs too.
Nicole in BC says
I am so glad to be reading you again! I may have to steal your line “Facebook is a complete dumpster fire” Amen to that–I quit it several months ago, no regrets!