Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Roadtrip Shawl, Worms and our Urban Farming Experiment

Just a bit of a spoiler for the squeamish, there aren't any photos of worms in this post. They all agreed to go off camera for “you know who you are”'s sake.

Just finished the Road Trip Shawl. This is my name for it. Check out Knitters Magazine, Fall 2007, page 42-43 for this pattern by Jane Sowerby. I had to wait for the second skein to arrive from Louet Yarns and it is a great colour match. The last quarter of the structure of shawl and the ruffle needed the second skein. There was no way to shut my eyes and squeeze it all into happening. Not only did this turn out to be the perfect traveling project, it is a dandy for when there are guests in the house.

Mom came to visit

and that meant spending more time than usual in the knitting position. There is only one trick at the first of each row and then the knitter knits merrily away until the beginning of the next row when 4 seconds of thinking need occur again. Once the ka=trillion stitches were on for the ruffle, it was more of the same except the tricky bit was on either side of the 5th stitch. Casting on a ka=trillion stitches wasn't a deterrent to conversation. Who counts a ka=trillion? You just add on until you get to where the body of the object stops, look to see if there are any glaring holes along the way or a big bunch of stitches in a single spot and say to yourself “I'll fix that on my way past the next time”. Once you arrive at the worrisome bit, add a few more or drop a few or knit a few together. Really, who looks? The only tense bit was the ending. Did I have enough yarn to get all the double ka=trillion (because by now I've added gazooka # of stitches to make the ruffle do a ruffle like wave) cast off. The answer was no. That meant either ripping back three rows to get enough to knit the second last row again and then cast off or do the amazing “Knitter Superwoman” trick of leaving the thread where it ended, and then .... crocheting off. It was diabolical from a knitting stand point. I did this tricky thing that I thought would be a complete screw up and it worked! No one can tell were I made the switch. I wish I had thought of this years ago, what a great way to cast off without the worry of is there enough yarn. If crocheting hadn't already been invented, I would pattent this.

While Mom was here, I had a chance to get the livestock organized.

Mom kept the garden furniture from blowing away during the storm of activity while the worms made sure they weren't in the pictures. It took two humans (Steve and I) to hoik the worm bin outside. I have been tossing kitchen scraps in the bin randomly over the winter. We had a bit of a drying out problem around February with the one bin, so I merged the two bins. The one bin was a clear plastic with a clear plastic lid and I think it just wasn't dark enough for worm-like shenanigans. In the blue bin, the worms settled down to serious munching. Once the bin was outside, we drained the worm pee into several bottles.

This stuff is amazing! Really and truly! I know I exaggerate but there is scientific proof somewhere that this stuff is gold. The tomatoes love it, the other plants actually rear up when they see the diluted mix coming and it conditions fallow ground beautifully. I have two bottles and a half pail of liquid, and we moved worms out of the bin and into 3 small pails. I am hoping to find homes for the worms this September when those eager Students careen into the Sustainability year one class. The culled herd is back in the basement, munching on coffee grounds.

How's our urban farming experiment going this summer you ask? Not so hot except for the tomatoes.

The lettuce is a bit sparse, I didn't get my act together around getting seeds into pots in the early spring so the carrots, onions, peas and snow peas aren't part of the crop this year. I did get some carrots into a container and some late beans are doing a nice job of looking enthusiastic. I planted 10 pumpkin seeds for the hell of it and 4 of them are up and perky. No vines yet. We need a vine before a flower can do its thing and make pumpkin babies. Still, we have the rest of August and I can pretend they are gourds. Steve wants a gourd anyways to make a banjo out of. That-is-another-story!

What we did do this year that is an improvement over last year is that we have a better sense of what we can manage to pay attention to. .......Not a lot.

We have a better sense of how hard it is to get potato sets..... impossible this year (note to selves: don't turn the last of the winter potatoes into latkes if you need them for seed potatoes)

We have a better sense of what we can't get a hold of at the Farmers Market......almost nothing.

We have a better sense of how valuable our local farmers are to our incredible tasting local diet... .....Essential!

So in an odd way by having fabulous produce around so easily, my motivation to compete with those Fabulous Farming Families is very low. I like my lettuce outside the door, the herbs are a fun addition to many things, I wish I had the green onions and I miss the idea of neat kinds of potatoes but truthfully, I prefer to go to the market.

We shop for very little outside of food and drinks. Hardly any clothes, videos or movies, next to no shoes or furniture. We do spend money on reading material and we do spend money on eating out a bit too much (Fridays- you know the feeling- there isn't anything in the fridge and it's hot/cold outside and 8 other excuses, just so you can get some great fish and chips and not have any dishes to do) But food shopping is like a puzzle. I like making up the menu for the week coming up, figuring out what meat or protein we need when, what veggies will go with what, which meals Steve will cook (thankfully most of them) and which I will burn, I mean cook. And I like eating it.

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