This past week the weather has been ideal – for May, that is. My lovely spinach, cilantro, and lettuce are already bolting : ( The Chinese cabbage and bok choy are long-gone. The outlook is for the warmer than normal temperatures to continue.
Yes, it’s been a while since I last posted. I had this little thing called a dissertation to write…
USGS map showing where the earthquake was felt
If you live in the USA you may have heard about (or felt) the earthquakes we’ve been having. All the the strongest ones (4.7, 5.6, 4.7) occurred at night while I was sitting in my big leather easy chair. I was actually on the phone with Aric when the 5.6 record-breaker shaker hit. Last night we had a 4.7 while most of the state was under a tornado watch! Oh, and yeah, OKC was dealing with flash flooding at the same time. Crazy. We’ve had a record-breaking year in many categories. We lived in California for 8 years and I never felt any as strong as the 5.6 and certainly not as many clustered so close together.
The map above is the product of a form on the USGS earthquake web site page Did You Feel It?After I feel a quake I immediately go this page and fill out the form (yeah, I know I’m a geek). Kate said she felt the 5.6 in St. Louis. I saw on the interweb that people in Wisconsin also felt it.
Mike has put the plastic on the hoop houses and things are looking fine. We have lettuce, arugula, red mustard, and cilantro to eat, and I can start harvesting Asian greens at any time. And in the hoop houses we still have peppers (lordy, do we have peppers!). Speaking of which, I found a great way to roast and peel chilis. I just put them in my convection toaster oven on high for about 8 to 10 minutes, then wrap them in a dishtowel for a minute or two. They are easier to peel and less messy than roasting them on the grill or over a gas flame, and you don’t have to worry about the smoke alarm going off. You don’t get the fire-roasted flavor of course, but it sure is convenient. Other veggies started under the hoops: spinach, chard, leeks, kale, lettuce, and carrots. All but the chard and spinach are from saved seed! Still left to harvest are peppers and sweet potatoes.
A few days after I wrote the previous post in June, we had a “weather event”, something not uncommon in Oklahoma. It was not a tornado, but a microburst. Don’t be deceived by the name, there was nothing “micro” about it! Most microbursts only last a minute or two, but this one went on for 20 minutes. Winds were up to 80 mph, and there was hail. So our garden and yard looked like it had all gone through a paper shredder. It took Mike three days to clean up the debris. Some plants came through better than others – things that had skinny or fern-like leaves. Many vegetables snapped in two, or had all their leaves stripped. And then, the next day, the temperature started rising, so that now we’ve had a month of 100+ degree weather.
In fact, July in Oklahoma was the warmest month on record – ever- for a state in the USA:
“Oklahoma and Texas had their warmest months everon record, with average temperatures of 88.9 degrees F and 87.1 degrees F, respectively. Oklahoma’s statewide average temperature was the warmest monthly statewide average temperature on record for any state during any month.” (NOAA)
And, oh yeah… we’re also having a drought here. Most things are still alive, thanks to Mike’s foresight in installing a new drip irrigation system. So tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans are still alive, but not setting fruit (too hot for blooms to set). But here are the real survivors, the plants that are not only still alive, but are producing something edible:
basil, oregano, garlic chives
hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) which I grow for an ornamental, but I’m rethinking that…
The funny thing is that the plants that seem to be doing the best are those that came up voluntarily in the patio chat (arugula, basil) or cracks in the concrete (amaranth).
After a couple week of unseasonably cold temperatures (lows in the single digits), we are now experiencing unseasonably warm/mild temperatures (lows in the 40’s). However, in Oklahoma the weather fluctuates so much that the term “unseasonable” ceases to have meaning. Today I took a peek under the row covers to see what had survived. The weeds – henbit, chickweed, and rye grass – were flourishing, of course. Small seedling of pak choi and mustard looked good; the larger plants were sadly burned, although most of them will pull through. The spinach looked good, and most surprisingly, the lettuce looked great (Amish Deer Tongue, especially).
Although it feels like I’m jumping the gun, it’s about time to start things for my spring garden. I’m going to start spinach in peat pellets again this year, and try the same with Swiss Chard and lettuce. I’m not going to do peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes.
Tonight we’re going to Barb & Mark’s for a dinner party. We’re taking a nice rustic loaf of bread Mike made, and I’ve made three spreads: Red pepper hummus, green pea “guacamole”, and herbed cheese. For the peacamole I started with this recipe, and then (of course!) made some substitutions.
Fresh cilantro, not essential oil (I’ve never even heard of this before)
Matt arrived from Siberia last Thursday and was excited about the summer temperatures for a whole two days. But now he’s escaping to the public library in the mornings and Cafe Plaid in the afternoons. Our house is not air conditioned, which is almost unheard of in Oklahoma. Neither Mike nor I grew up with air conditioning, and we keep telling ourselves “Billions of people live without it, and our ancestors lived without it, so we can too.” It would cost a fortune to cool this house, and a little bit of sweating in the summer has allowed us to send Matt and Aric to fancy-smancy private colleges.
Also, it really cuts down on house guests in the summer! ;>)
Saturday I harvested garlic, and wow… what was I thinking?! I should open a booth at the farmer’s market. But of course garlic is something people are always more than happy to take off your hands, unlike zucchini or mustard greens.