Monday, March 19, 2012

Good Monday to you all.  Another unseasonably warm day but likely to tie the record not break it.  The skies cleared yesterday after the morning cloudiness so we had a sunny day after all.  The weather people predict a mixed day with periods of sun alternating with rain.  I am amazed at how much the plants are growing.  I can see changes day to day.  I planted my tomatoes about 10 days ago and so far, as I think I said yesterday, they are doing fairly well.  I see a couple of trouble spots, however.  The Big Rainbow has, so far, failed to germinate.  Those seeds are from 2010.  The Brandywine has had a 50% germination--also from 2010.  And the Fresh Salsa has also had a 50% germination rate--dated 2009.  I think I will look for heirloom varieties to replace the Salsa and Rainbow.  Then in the fall I will save the seeds for all of the heirlooms.

I have gotten a good bit accomplished, Nicola, but I have to remind me we are still in the last week of winter--the spring equinox comes this week.  This has been, as I have also said, a very unusual winter.  Last year I couldn't even get my shovel into the frozen soil till a month later.  I haven't even got my potatoes yet.  We will be visiting our favorite year-round farm market for eggs and we will get an idea of how far along their greenhouses are.  I will pick up some of my transplants if they have them.  I have plenty of room inside and, for the hardier plants, in the greenhouse.  Sounds like you are making progress.  I have read about the possible 'hose pipe' bans for southern England and wondered how they would affect you.  I have seen so many stories about severe weather in areas and at times that are highly unusual.

Hey, Kay, chill out a bit.  I have found that plants have minds of their own.  You can tend them lovingly to the best of your ability and, for no reasons you can discern, they fail to thrive.  I am relieved and delighted that all of the plants I left to overwinter in the outside containers have come back.  That doesn't mean that they will next spring or that they will thrive through the summer.  Relax and see what comes up.  Plan to replace what doesn't come up and see how things go.  You may be right that they didn't get enough cold.  I know that last year at this time my shovel was bouncing off the frozen soil.  I spend a lot of time on line checking out plants I grow or want to grow.  Even though I lost my lemon verbena after I brought it inside, I am going to try again this year and see if I can change something to make the new one happy.  In the end I may be forced to treat it as an annual and get new each year.  Gardening of any kind is a 'live and learn' proposition.  Give yourself some slack and enjoy what goes right.

We just went out on our weekly grocery shopping rounds.  It was a light day because we didn't have to visit the meat market or Panera.  Big shock as we parked at the supermarket--gas was $4.15/gal.  For several weeks we noticed, as I think I have said before, that the price of diesel has gone well above the price of regular gas, sometimes by as much as $1/gal.  For most of my life diesel has been much cheaper than regular and has been one reason why a lot of car owners opted for diesel engines.  This might explain the sudden change.

This story comes as no surprise to me.  We live in an environment saturated with chemicals that our grandparents would never have recognized.  And for all too many they were put in use for one purpose or to have one effect without any regard for the possible negative consequences.  And this story actually made our mainstream bureaus of misinformation news broadcast over the weekend.  I loved one of the comments: pharmaceutical companies are far more interested in developing drugs that people will have to take day after day for the rest of their lives.  Drugs people only take for a brief period of time infrequently don't pad their bottom lines.  The wonder drugs of yesteryear are neither wonders nor effective now.  I saw a story on PBS last night about malaria in Africa which noted that the organism that causes the disease is now highly resistant to chloroquine and other standard anti-malarial drugs.  The search is on for new treatments.  Interesting, chloroquine's parent compound, quinine, is still effective.

James Kunstler at Clusterfuck Naiton has some interesting thoughts on modern medicine.  When it comes to diet we take any advice with a ton of salt.  Mom is on Zocor and has been on one or another statin for the last 20 years.  She is still on it but we decided over a year ago to go back to whole milk, whole milk cottage cheese, and whole milk cheese.  We also went back to butter reserving the margarine for cooking only.  Her last cholesterol levels were well in the 'normal' range--hadn't gone up at all.  One thing we have done is eliminate as much salt from our diet as possible.  We were stunned to discover exactly how much was in the foods we were eating.  We took the salt shaker off the table and replaced it with a herb/spice mixture that is quite tasty and smells wonderful.  We eat very little that isn't prepared at home from scratch.  I agree with Kunstler's last observation: many of the once respected authority figures in our country--bankers, politicians, and physicians--are no longer accepted without question.

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