The difference between basil and chives


Basil and chives are both yummy, green foods.  Both are sold at the local supermarket.  And, for a certain young checkout clerk, each can be confused with the other.  Happily, there is a difference: their 4-digit produce code, eventually remembered.

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I just had my first cup of nettle tea a few days ago.  Pretty good, although part of it is knowing that, like most wild plants, there’s all kinds of good stuff in it including perhaps the ability to counter nuclear fallout.  Thanks to friend Lara at Nettledale Farm for the concoction.  She will dry enough to last much of the year, not only in tea but in soups and other cooking.  Nettles (like the chorus of the Pacific chorus frog) are coming out in great numbers now. 

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While at Nettledale Farm today, I observed the combustion of John’s enormous burn pile.  Unlike Dubya’s seemingly endless Crawford, Texas ranch-brush that required burning, John’s pile had a purpose: to burn out a ginormous maple stump. 

Starting a fire, while child’s play in the summer, is pretty hard this time of year; it’s like lighting a wet sponge on file.  He used a propane Tiger Torch to get some dry wood burning and, after several hours and many dry wood refills, the saturated stump wood released its water and began to burn.  One side of the stump was definitely on fire but, with a 15′ circumference, we’ll have to see over the next day or two whether the fire travels throughout the stump and its roots.

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Last Saturday we all trekked out into Ganges to observe the super moon.  Like the Super Bowl, the hype did not live up to the actual show but it was still interesting.  Our new belief system requires that we plant root crops like carrots, beets and turnips at times like this but that stuff will have to wait another 29 days because the ground we’re using for those crops is still saturated.  In any case,  I might find a different belief system before then, especially if the rain stops. 

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It was sunny…yes SUNNY all day today but,  generally, it’s been pretty darn wet around here recently, even unseasonably so.  It’s been so wet, in fact, that the large high tunnel project, for which materials have been sitting around for three weeks in frantic anticipation, had been on hold for fear of all the trampling of wet soil that would have to be done.

But no longer.  The job has to get done, compacted soil be damned.  We need to plant tomatoes in about a month but, before that, the soil has to stop getting rained on so  that I can till it a few times to kill the grass that’s been living there for years.  I started the project yesterday and have made good progress, considering it hasn’t been the only thing going on at the farm (for example, I planted a hundred foot bed of salad greens, radishes, turnips, arugula and spinach, 15-25′ of each).

The new high tunnel will be a close likeness of the transplant tunnel I already built (and which is now nearly full of tiny plants), using the same basic supplies and procedure, only this time I plan to do it a little better.  I’ve figured out how to get the anchor posts to line up a lot more uniformly and have taken into account the gentle slope towards Mt Belcher.  Because this tunnel’s length will be much greater than twice its width, I’ll be using roll-up sides instead of having removable ends.  This adds quite a bit of  expense in that, to make it fancy-shmancy I’ll be using aluminum channel and wiggle wire at the top of the roll-up to fix the polyethylene to the PVC hoops.  The roll-up gear boxes are not cheap either.  None of the supplies are.  Unless you compare it to the alternatives I costed, in which case it becomes cheap again.

So far all I’ve done is pound in the anchor posts on one side and half of the other.  Mind you, I would have gotten further yesterday had it not been for the trenching I did along 40′ because of a small hill.  And only after doing that did I realize that I could probably skip that step, at least initially, and wait until the polyethylene is almost ready to be installed before I have to take into account terrain undulations. 

My goal is to have this project done in 3 weeks.  If it were the only thing going on, I’d say two.  But we’re moving to a swank new rental – with no lower neighbours! – on Tuesday.  We’re receiving a bunch of strawberry starts which need to be planted at about the same time.  And many hundreds of potatoes and a small number of peas need to be planted soon too.  Plus I need to build another chicken coop for some new ‘special’ birds the kids are getting.  Plus, plus, plus. 

Ah well, all in good fun.


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