Robin Katz

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since May 10, 2015
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Recent posts by Robin Katz

My experience here in the U.S. is that most stores carry russets (no specific type given, used for baking, mashes, fries), reds (no type given, more waxy type for salads, mashes, etc.), fingerlings, and Yukon Gold. If you're lucky you can find some of these organic. Sometime you can find small potatoes called "new" but they're not really since new potatoes have a very thin skin and wouldn't ship or store well.

Of course there are some specialty stores that provide more variety but you pay for the premium service.

The only way I've found to get good varieties is to grow them myself. The flavor is always better than store bought, they store much longer, and it's a lot of fun too. This year I grew purple potatoes from seed and got some nice variety in growth habit and tuber production. I discovered that deer love potato greens too. I predict tall fencing in my future...
9 hours ago
Our favorite squash/pumpkin is Sweet Keeper (Cucurbita maxima). We grew these in Denver but haven't tried them since we moved north. Not sure if they will ripen in time here. They had a rich, sweet flavor with a nice texture - not mealy or watery. And they did keep until March in a cool 50 F room. They absolutely loved growing next to the driveway so that the vines could extend out and soak up the heat. We got two good sized fruits per vine.

"Sweet Keeper Squash is flattened, with bluish-grey rind with moderate ribbing, and deep orange flesh inside.

It grows 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) wide by 5 to 6 inches (12 1/2 to 15 cm) tall, and weighs 5 to 10 pounds (2 1/4 to 4 1/2 kg.)

The plants’ vines spread out to 30 feet (9 metres.)

95 to 105 days from seed."
One of the challenges I'm facing is trying to do the same things I used to do when I was younger without adapting to how I feel now. For instance, weight lifting. I've lifted for 40 or so years (off and on, sometimes very intensely) but right now there is no way I can do the routines I did in my 20s. It's hard to face that so it's tempting to not lift so that I'm not reminded of the changes. But that's self defeating. So now I do light weights, lots of reps and whatever exercises I feel like doing. With loud, obnoxious music from the 70s and 80s. It was disheartening at first since it took so little to tire out, but I'm improving every workout.

I think it's the reminders of what once was that are hard to face, but I find it important to appreciate what I had and more important, what I have right now. I've also improved vastly in areas where I was a bit of an idiot when I was young, so it all balances out. Overall, I feel blessed.
3 days ago
That is the best news I've heard in a while! Glad to hear that MM and your family have a new friend.
6 days ago
One big lesson I've learned from my dreams is that you can fall off a cliff and hit the ground...then wake up from it. It's not a dream that I enjoyed though.
1 week ago

Artie Scott wrote:If you dream you are kissing a dog, and you sleep with a dog...wake up!

Artie, what's wrong with a little kiss? No tongues of course since the dog will always win :)

On a similar, yet more disturbing note, we used to have a Great Dane that somehow could get her tongue into our mouths lightning-fast from several inches away while we were talking to her. We learned really quick that when she got that certain look on her face to back up out of tongue reach, or clamp our mouths shut really tight. We still don't know how she did it. I do miss that old girl.
1 week ago

Creighton Samuels wrote:I bought a mix with Rye, Oats, Winter Pea, Bolsena Clover, Chicory, Rape, Daikon Radish & Sugar Beets. 20 lbs of this mix cost me $80. I never did find any bulk carrot seeds.

I buy bulk food and use it for seed. This is by far the least expensive way that I've found so far. I get most of my bulk seed/food from Azure Standard.

Organic rye: $0.65/lb in a 25 lb bag. I just tossed them out last fall and got a good crop this year.
Whole oats with hulls for animal feed: $0.55/lb in a 30 lb bag (other types a little more, but not much). Same as the rye. Good growth.
Whole green peas: $0.88/lb in a 25 lb bag
Crimson clover seeds: $1.80/lb in a 50 lb bag. This one is a favorite. The flowers are an intense, bright red.
There is more info on their web site on other things like wheat, millet, flax, milo, etc.. You may not find everything on your list but the cost is much less this way.

If you can't find it in the food category, look for sprouting seeds in bulk. They are more expensive (example being wheat for eating and wheat for sprouting) but seem to be less expensive than the exact same thing labeled for growing.
I love seeing frogs and toads in the garden. We had a Pacific tree frog living in our potato patch in late summer. I guess potato stems are just the right size for them. I hadn't thought about the pest control aspect although that's certainly welcome any time. I thought it might have been that the garden is more moist than the surrounding land.

You got some great pictures. I wish I'd done the same with our little guy.
2 weeks ago

We bought our wooded property two years ago and built a hugel-type garden bed last year. We used no fertilizer except some pee from two humans and a small amount of granular kelp. I don't trust straw or hay anymore, and neighbors that have horses aren't sure if the fodder is from unsprayed fields, so we don't use that.

Part of this experiment was to see if we could get some kind of yield with minimal fertilizer input, although building a hugel garden bed by hand was a ton of work.

Fast forward one year and here is what we've noticed:
1. Greens do very well. Kale, mustards, arugula, lettuce, radicchio, radishes all did well and I have a freezer with many quarts of greens for the winter soups.
2. Tomatoes produced but not as many fruits. No disease issues or insect damage. Flavor was really good.
3. Peppers/chilis didn't grow well or fast but we got some of the early variety that matured on the plant. We have a short growing season so that's the main factor here.
4. Cucumbers did really well. Lots of cukes even though they started producing late. Not too much vegetative growth but a lot of flowers. Overall a win in my opinion.
5. Fruit trees and shrubs planted the previous year put out healthy leaves but nothing in the way of new growth and no flowers.
6. Green beans struggled with this although we got a small harvest. I thought they would produce enough of their own nitrogen but that didn't seem to happen.
7. Herbs were very happy. Thyme, sage, parsley, savory, etc. really like low nitrogen soils so they went crazy. The bugs loved to pollinate them so we had a variety of pollinators visit us that we didn't see the previous year.
8. Wheat, rye and barley produced very well. I was surprised.
9. Potatoes produced well.

To answer your main question, you can produce some food with minimal outside input. From what I've seen, the growth is a lot slower and the production is reduced. But, I've been wondering if the quality of what you get is better because there is less lush growth. I do know that the greens are stronger flavored yet still good. I don't know if heavy feeders will do well with this scenario. We've given in and fed the fruit trees and bushes this fall with organic food because we want something from them relatively soon.

2 weeks ago
"Don't cut the person to fit the coat"

"When reality clashes with a rigidly held belief, reality is generally the loser"

-Anthony De Mello, The Song of the Bird
2 weeks ago