Saturday, August 21, 2010


Like the title says above, August has been and is insane. Starting with some gross news. Who knew that when bone meal gets wet, it becomes rancid? All things considered bone meal being what bone meal is, I should have known. So the other day, I was about to top dress some cukes and paddy pans with said bone meal and was totally aghast-ed by the stench. I was like, "whatever," as I really wanted to fert my crops. And then when I dug my hand shovel into the meal, I had a total "Lost Boys" moment where the whole five-gallon bucket came alive with maggots. Only, I wasn't vampirically hallucinating, the entire bucket was bone meal, maggots, and wretched. I tried to take a picture, but the little buggers just blend so well with the meal, the jpeg wasn't worth publishing. I ended up dumping the bucket and its contents right into the middle of my compost, thereby making a high phos compost blend that will probably need major leaf dilution before it's safe to use. Who knew?

About two weeks back, the melon patch came in fast and hard just like my metal. Smellin' Melon Mania I was born! In one corner of the ring was the classic, four to seven pound, ultra foo-foo, French Charentais, tasting like the best cantaloupe ever plus rose water with pink-orange juicy-juice flesh. In the other corner was the somewhat scrappy, one to three pound, tag team of the Far North classic American cantaloupe, and its Armenian flashy cousin, the Tigger, looking like a Super Mario Brother's fireball and handsomely displayed in the photo above. The Tigger's aroma was somewhat intoxicating, and I was starting to feel like a bumble bee in my own home with every room smellin' of melons.

Now, this Melon Mania may have sounded like a little slice of heaven, and for the most part it was like a little slice of heaven. But when 20 ripe melons are picked in one day, the refrigeration bottleneck of my business is immediately realized. Subsequently, I learned a new kind of hustle because of my refrigeration problem. I had some knowing and unknowing participants in my quest to de-melon. On the knowing side of things, I give thanks to Rob Burgoyne and Lakewood's LEAF organization, who let me guest-vend on a 12-hour Facebook-notice in front of the Lakewood Library as part of LEAF's CSA program on Wednesday the 18th. And a week prior on the unknowing side of things, I give thanks to Lakewood's Bela Dubby coffee shop, which subsequently allowed me to visually and aromatically entice their customers with my melons, when incidentally I was bringing a Charentais to a friend during Bela's movie night, and when incidentally I had three others just sitting there on my car seat. All in all, I sold four Charentais out of the Subaru that evening.

For the sake of blog publishing, "August Is Insane" will need to continue in the near future.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Alright, I'll write already.

Borrowing and rephrasing a line from some old Lungfish, alright, I'll write already. I've been busy with non-exciting stuff, like up top there is a picture of my application for Gardening for Greenbacks plus the proprietary edits that my attorney recommended. I finally got that turned into Ifeoma at the City of Cleveland's Economic Development Department. That was like a half year's brainstorming funneled into a necessary yet punishing week of extremely formalized/organized thought and then action. I'm glad it's over with. I just need to hear the yay or nay, and move on from there.

Never thought I'd say this, but I'm starting to feel like Dwight Shrute from the Office. My first major harvest, which is totally separate from rinky-dink single pickings, is beets galore. There's Goldens, Early Wonders, Chioggias, and Crapaudines, which were no good despite the name and being the oldest root beet known in existence. The Chioggias are the Santa Claus-red ones in the picture and are also known as "candy stripe" beets to us common folk. Weird thing was, about every fortieth or fiftieth was completely white, like a slightly muddy ghost beet. And for the most part, these ghost beets tasted like earthened sugar with a mealy texture that would pair well with oatmeal.

Also, pictured up top is Green Urban Enterprises' non-patented Root Crop Rinser, which doubles as the equally non-patented Compost and Soil Sifter, made with every day farm items like 1/4 inch chicken wire, roofin nails, and re-purposed 2 by 4's from Birch's garage. That thing is going to be a lifesaver.

I swapped some fish for mineral fertilizer the other day with Eric Stoffer of Bay Branch Farm, and we got to chatting 'bout our respective farmer's markets, he at Lakewood Farmer's Market, me at Gordon Square's. We got to talking about this and that, and we got onto the dirty subject of reselling.

Reselling. It just makes my skin crawl. Reselling is the act of buying produce from a wholesaler, and then passing it off, and "reselling" it as your own. Reselling is totally different than helping a brother/sister farmer/gardener sell some produce in conjunction with your stand. This latter action is most often fully disclosed to give props to both farmers, is local, and results in real local monetary gain for both participants. Resellers, in contrast, buy bulk produce from California, China, and where ever else, and then sell it to the customer as "their own" or "local." I feel that us, Urban Farmers, need to rally against this practice.

I had some killer marketing ideas present themselves to me today over breakfast in regards to next year's plant start sales. I can't tell you the details because that would break my confidentiality agreement. I'm just saying it's kind of strange when and where inspiration hits. Be ready for it.

Well, it's a day later and I'm just looking to get this blog entry done. Today, I harvested this year's first Far North cantaloupes, five of them. I hope to get them to market on Saturday, but seeing's how cantaloupe is literally my favorite flavor in the world, it's looking doubtful for my customers, especially when my whole kitchen smells of melon for 10 minutes after opening up the fridge. Also, picked my first couple of ears of sweet corn ever today. So, I have the jitters in anticipation of my virginal kernel crunch popping sweetness. In conclusion, I've been thinking about commissioning a cement garden gnome in my likeness.