Blurb

Soon to be renowned!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Humans Who Grow Food


Hey, check it out! Fencebroke Promontory is currently featured on the Facebook group "Humans Who Grow Food". These folks do great work telling "stories of home gardeners and farmers across borders and cultures." It's inspiring stuff; even if you don't particularly care to see any more of my garden than you already have, do yourself a favor and check out their page!

https://www.facebook.com/humanswhogrowfood/

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Today Only!


Hey, spread the word! Today, Sat. Nov. 11th, only: the Kindle version of my book will be FREE on Amazon! This is one small way for me to say thank you for all those who have supported and followed me on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Another way would be to actually tell each of you, "THANK YOU", but I don't know your phone numbers or where you all live ... or even who you are. This is easier.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Funny, Awesome Thing

Nature's "Frost"-ing

Yesterday morning the vegetable garden was wilted with frost, the first of the year. This morning: snow. For many vegetables, the advent of freezing temperatures spells doom. My tomatoes, for one, resemble nothing so much as a crop blighted by the nameless evil from "Stranger Things". But a funny thing also happens in the garden when the weather gets cold. A funny, awesome thing. Some of the vegetables don't blacken, putrefy, or collapse; some of the vegetables ... they get tastier. Sweeter. Carrots, kale, rutabagas and the like actually improve after being nipped by frost.

I love that. Now, the reason why this happens is that certain plants, when they feel the cold setting in, start manufacturing extra sugars. These dissolved sugars act as antifreeze within the plant tissues, preventing ice crystals from popping open the plant cells like Wolverine at a water-balloon toss. Which is cool, even if your eyes glazed over during those last couple sentences. Think about it: there's an entire class of vegetables who are like, "Hey guys, things are getting rough out there, should we ... you know, get more awesome?" And in this spirit, they join the ranks of other, more-awesome-under-pressure heroes such as first-responders, parents who lift cars off of trapped children, and reality cooking show chefs who are able to conjure a flan from thin air with 3 minutes left on the clock. It's a pretty elite group, one to which I myself would aspire were it not for my own tendency to shake like an aspen leaf when confronted with ... well, confrontations. And when it's snowing outside, forget about getting sweeter, I'm pretty sure my own tissues turn bitter from extra coffee—my own antifreeze.

So let us all, this Winter, strive to be more like the rutabaga. Let us all, in life, turn a little sweeter under duress, a little stronger when the world turns cold. I challenge you, dear readers, to be the vegetable in your life that looks around at the chaos and gloom and says, "Hey guys ... let's be a little more awesome".

As for me, I'll be inside, drinking coffee. But I'll definitely be cheering you on.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Blues

One of the Blues.

I've got them. The blues, that is. Mostly in the veggie garden, but still, there are a lot of 'em. Not the old 12-bar variety, mind you, no grizzled harmonicists lurking in the carrots with broken hearts, no bottleneck slide guitarists drowning their sorrows in bourbon and Brussels sprouts, but still, I've got the blues.

I've got the All-of-my-fall-and-winter-veggies-seem-to-have-'blue'-in-their-names blues.

My story is relatively free of traditional blues themes such as infidelity, cheatin', workin' all day, cuckoldin', workin' all night, and whiskey (hey, I said relatively free of these themes). In their place, you'll find my blue refrain cropping up on a theme of brassicas. 'Blue Wind' broccoli, 'Dazzling Blue' Kale—hang on, should I go get my guitar? I think it'd really add something. No? No one wants me to go get my guitar? Yeah, I'm going to get it anyway.

...

Okay, where was I? Bluuuuue Wind broccol—wait, hang on, I gotta tune this thing.

Shoot, you know what, it's actually missing a string. Okay, forget the guitar. It's mostly lost in translation anyway. Rest assured, I was about to really cut loose on that thing.

So yeah, the broccoli, the kale, I've also got 'Blue Max' collard greens (or should I call them "collard blues"? No, no I shouldn't, that's just confusing), and I can't recall for certain, but I think the leeks I planted are actually 'Blue Solaise'. I've also got 'Roodnerf' Brussels Sprouts; I would not at all be surprised to find 'Roodnerf' translates as 'Also Blue' in whatever country it originated. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about all the blues. In the great tradition on of accidental color palettes emerging from the garden mine is doubtless one of the more agreeable and benign. I just wonder if all that blue will start to weigh on me over the course of a long Fall and Winter. Oh well, if it comes to it, I can always buy some new guitar strings. Or a harmonica. Or some whiskey ...

Monday, October 2, 2017

B'apples


First of all, let's make one thing very clear: the only reason these apples don't all have bite marks in them is because I picked them while my children were napping. At any other time, my son, whose first repeated word was "apple" (or, more accurately, "b'apple") and my daughter, who seems to have a sixth sense for when I might be out picking something in the garden without her, would immediately have taken two or three bites out of each specimen, then either set it down to be forgotten or actively cast it aside as no longer novel enough to warrant attention. Each fruit would then later be rediscovered by yours truly, in an oxidized-brown, dirt-covered, fruit-fly-swarmed state, hopefully just on the ground in the garden somewhere and not, as more often happens, returned to the hands of my son, the apple zombie, who since learning to walk in a beginner's gait resembles nothing else so strongly as he shuffles around gnawing an old corpse of an apple and muttering "b'apple ... b'apple ..." under his breath. 

So it is only during these few moments while both are sleeping that I am free to entertain the silly, passing flights of fancy I would normally swat like mosquitoes. Fantasies like: I'm a successful orchardist, calmly searching his trees for potential prize-winning fruits for the State Fair; or, I'm a visionary plant breeder who has just successfully cross bred apples with pumpkins, creating a massively profitable quintessence of Fall; or, I'm a normal person who can go pick an apple and eat it without feeling the need to write about the experience. Ridiculous stuff like that. You can see why I'm normally grateful for the distraction my children provide. 

Speaking of which, the zombie stirs. I better go hide these beauties and then forget about them like everything else I try to keep away from the kids.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Hard, Flat Spot


My thesaurus doesn't really offer a good synonym for patio. That's okay. Because where I would normally christen any new Fencebroke infrastructure improvement with a sufficiently haughty title to conceal my deep feelings of handyman inadequacy (e.g. The Great Grape Gate or the Great Wall Of Fencebroke), this time I just don't care.

May I present the great something of blahdy blah blah—let's just call it what it is: it's A Hard Flat Spot.

After six months, dozens of blisters, too much money, weekly meltdowns of our children who basically lost their parents for the Summer, and countless trips to the big box hardware vortex—during which we were only once, once! asked if we needed any help, and this on our very last trip—it's DONE and I don't care what it's called. Every garden needs a hard, flat spot on which to put chairs and other furniture, so here it is. Fencebroke's very own Hard-Flat-Spot-On-Which-To-Put-Chairs-And-Other-Furniture.

Now why didn't they put that in the thesaurus?

Oh well, I'm sick of it, but I'm also happy with how it turned out. Plus, as a bonus, we finished with nearly a half-hour of Summer weather left to enjoy! A toast was made, a game of ladder-golf was begun, and then the first Fall rains started in earnest. Sorry kids, we'll do Summer next year.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Pest Problems


Late Summer is a common time for pests to make their presence known in the garden. Plants have been taxed near to death by their own cycles of growth and reproduction compounded by long weeks of drought and heat. This cumulative stress of relentless physiology and environmental extremes leaves the garden depleted and vulnerable to opportunistic predation, parasitism, and physical damage. Here are a few of the more persistent and serious late-season pests in my own experience. I don't have any advice or wisdom to help deal with these, they just suck. Sorry. If you'd read my book, maybe you wouldn't be in this position. If I'd followed my own advice, maybe I wouldn't be.

1.) Children – There's a lot of nonsense out there about encouraging kids to get out in the garden. It's supposed to be good for their development, self-esteem, health, etc.. That's great for the kidsI'm sure the proverbial bull loves tearing around that china shop, too—but this kind of feel-good outdoor activity does not make the garden feel good. My daughter is old enough to largely limit her destruction to the tearing off of random leaves for doll's bedding, pulling five-too-many carrots in search of the perfect snack, and repeatedly throwing Frisbees into tomato plants. Catch, tomato! My son, on the other hand, thinks the fragile young Fall and Winter seedlings are things to be hatched rather than grown and plays his part by sitting on as many of them as possible. He also has developed a taste for unripe strawberries and plant tags.

2.) Hoses – This is the time of year when months of early-morning hose-wranglings, kinks, leaks, and dawn-wrought (but otherwise unrelated) existential angst culminate in spasms of blind rage. Spasms of blind rage are not inherently destructive to the garden, but when said spasms are transferred to the long, heavy, irrigating whip inevitably in hand this time of year, innocent plants are battered, lashed, decapitated, and generally smote more often than not. So-called "hose guards" are a laughable defense. The hose can be guarded-against, the livid gardener flailing the hose cannot be. 

3.) Apathy – Since it is ultimately by the will of the gardener that the garden thrives, when that will falls like unpicked fruit to shrivel and rot on the ground, the garden understandably suffers. The growing season is like a marathon, or, rather, like I imagine a marathon might be if I were ever to participate in one: halfway through I'm wondering what I got myself into, 3/4 through I'm eating leftover pizza and thinking about fantasy football. Don't judge me, gardening is hard!
Look for the first signs of apathy about when powdery mildew and blossom end-rot show up. Or don't. By that point you may already not care. 

Those are the three big, late season pests. Together they should just about be enough to make you consider next year paving over the garden in favor of a world-class hopscotch course. 

...

Uh, the hopscotch thing is my idea. Nobody else do that.