It is still cold with periodic snow or other precipitation. Some areas south of us are expecting ice. Hopefully, we will miss that. But I notice that I am not the only one in the blogosphere keeping warm perusing the seed catalogs and planning the spring planting. My seed orders came in so I sat myself down and actually planned what I will plant and where I will put it. I checked out the plans yesterday to make sure I had a place for everything I had on my list and made a couple of minor tweaks to the plans. What's on the agenda, you ask?
Well, peppers, of course. I decided not to put in any sweet peppers this year. The farm markets are full of those. Top on the list is the False Alarm (very mild jalapeno style hybrid) and Zavory (mild habanero hybrid) both from Burpee. I added the Vietnamese Multi-color hot from Baker Creek (an heirloom variety). All are small and I want to pickle some as well as freeze a batch. The False Alarm has been reliably prolific over the last two years.
Then, tomatoes, and absolute must. I still have Fresh Salsa ) (Burpee hybridseeds so I will continue with them. They did the best of all the tomatoes last year and produced heavily. The Brandywine and Big Rainbow (heirlooms) didn't do nearly so well thanks to the heat wave that hit just as they were blooming and the sun damage didn't help either. I will start them and the peppers early under plastic tents and I plan to provide shade from the worst of the sun.
I will continue growing stevia, thai basil, lavender, and sage but will add marjoram, rosemary, oregano, and sweet basil.
I have a number of new categories this year: the Tigger melon, Dragon's Egg cucumber, Blue Lake pole beans, and Aunt Molly's ground cherry. These are all heirloom varieties from Burpee (beans) and Baker Creek (mellon and cucumber). The ground cherry was a gift packet from Jung with our order of the little greenhouse and a total surprise. I am very interested in how it will turn out.
Greens will include Bull's Blood beets, spinach and three varieties of lettuce. Actually, there are more varieties of lettuce because I will be planting the Heatwave mix from Burpee for the middle of the season. These didn't do well last year but I hope the results will be different this time. We do like our salads.
For pure decoration I am putting in the dwarf marigolds again along with Love-in-a-Mist, Black Peony poppy, and Teddy Bear sunflowers.
Though I love looking at the seed catalogs I find my enthusiasm often outruns my garden capacity. Everything looks and sounds wonderful. But I have a very small space so many of my choices are restricted to what plants that may fit in well in that space. The melons produce small fruit and I have several large pots that can be fitted with a trellis. And I have some pots that, I think, are big enough for the poppy and sunflower both of which grow to 4 ft.
On to other things. I don't find this New York Times story all that surprising though the time line does raise my eyebrows a bit. The story started unraveling about five years before the housing crisis hit. The rot in the mortgage industry is pervasive and cleaning it up will take a long while. The first step has to be a social attitude adjustment on two points. Ordinary Americans can't think of homes as 'investments' the way stocks are investments and count on them for a windfall return. Second, homeownership is not for everyone as it has been touted for the last thirty years. The we have to clean up the mortgage servicers and banking industry but not by turning the whole thing over to the big banks as some recent articles have claimed representatives of the industry are lobbying for the government to do.
I am not all that surprised by this Reuter's story either although I notice that not much attention has been paid to the issue over here. We heard about Sarkozy's visit to the U.S. but not much at all about his agenda. Nor have we heard much about the rise in food prices world wide or about the increase in the commodities that lie beneath the rising cost of food. It is interesting that Sarkozy wants to go after 'speculators' and he may have a point in doing so. But speculation in the commodities market may be a smaller part of the problem than he thinks. We all heard about the heat wave in Russia last summer but only snippets about the Russian Government's ban on wheat exports which put a serious hurt on their major customers, including Egypt and Indonesia. We have heard about the floods in Australia which has devastated Queensland and is now proceeding into Victoria. But think about this--it is early fall down there and what ever crops were growing there are gone. We have heard absolutely nothing about the floods in Indonesia and Sri Lanka which have put a severe crimp in rice production or about the severe winter in Vietnam which has killed, reportedly, some 10k buffalo with the numbers rising. Southwestern China, a major grain growing region, suffered a severe multi-year drought followed by massive flooding and now severe winter snows and freezing. I haven't read a final tally for the American wheat and corn crop but both are down and reserves are at a multi-decade low while the Canadian wheat farmers took a big hit on the heat wave that hit there. Weather, it seems to me, may be a much bigger problem than speculators. Michael Klare at tomdispatch has a good post this morning which puts the whole issue in a very nicely balanced perspective. Speculation is only one leg of a very wobbly three legged stool supporting global commodities--decreased production (due to nasty weather or increased production costs) and increased global demand being the other two.