hudebnik: (devil duck)
[ profile] shalmestere had left some pieces of paper lying around for me to see. I picked one up and concluded it was a recipe, written in 19th-century English, for compost -- in the gardening sense, not the preserved-root-vegetables sense. In fact, looking at the others, I realized there were at least a dozen different recipes for varietal composts, presumably for different garden conditions. And each one ended with a series of "if" statements and a list of book titles. At length I realized that the "if" statements were actually conditional-compilation directives (if the C preprocessor had been based on 19th-century English), and the book titles, all by the same 20th-century female author, were effectively include directives: if you ran the whole thing as a script, you would get the full text of all her novels, with the compost recipe inserted at all and only those places where it was appropriate to the setting.
hudebnik: (devil duck)
The Greenmarket has ramps, and asparagus, and lilacs, and potted chervil, and....
hudebnik: (devil duck)
Last fall I posted this about our quince trees (which have just come into bloom in the past three days -- yay!)

Update: from the Web research I've done so far, this is probably two separate infections: a primary attack by the Oriental fruit moth (the closely-related codling moth would have gone straight for the seeds, rather than honeycombing the flesh), followed by an opportunistic brown-rot infection.

Oriental fruit moths overwinter, and then go through three or four generations in a summer: the first generation eats leaf shoots, leaving them wilted (which we did see last year), while later generations eat fruit. There are a variety of control mechanisms: parasitic wasps (Glabridorsum, Trichogramma, Macrocentrus); pheromones that disrupt the breeding cycle; a new virus brand-named Madex HP; bacteria-based pesticides Dipel (Bt) and Success (Spinosad); chemical insecticides methoxyfenozide, chlorantraniliprole, and flubendianide. I'm calling local garden stores to see what they've got that makes sense on my scale, for an orchard of two (2) trees.
hudebnik: (Default)
Two and a half years ago we planted two dwarf quince trees in the front yard. The first year they produced leaves and branches. The second year they produced lovely flowers and a couple of fruits, all of which fell off before reaching the size of a thumbnail. This year there were more fruits, two of which reached perhaps the size of a baseball, and were looking promising. One of them became gnarly and misshapen, but we figured we'd let it ripen and see whether it was actually being chewed up or just misshapen. The other one, as of this afternoon, had a big brown mushy spot, and when we examined the fruits, both of them fell off. So no harvest this year.

Behind the cut is a photo of the fruit cross-section )
If you recognize this infection and can tell me what organism causes it, maybe I can find a way to kill them next year.


Nov. 11th, 2007 07:46 pm
hudebnik: (Default)
Saturday morning [ profile] shalmestere and I headed into the city to the Chocolate Show, which has become an annual ritual for us. About a hundred different chocolatiers, mostly either so high-end or so local that only serious foodies have heard of them... giving free samples of their wares to entice you to buy them... discussing the relative merits of Madagascar Criollo vs. Venezuelan Trinitario or Colombian Forastero, and which would be most appropriate for what sort of confection... expert chefs giving lecture-demonstrations to packed houses of foodies (or just people who wanted to sit down). This year there was a surprise vendor: Mars, with its free samples of M&M's, looked really incongruous between the ultrasophisticate makers pushing lavender-and-sea-salt bonbons, cinnamon-and-chili-spiced chocolate-covered cocoa nibs, etc.

This year, also, they changed the rules and didn't stamp people's hands so they could leave for lunch and come back in. This was an unpleasant surprise to us, who had planned on doing just that. But we had arrived before the 10 AM opening, and by 2 PM we had visited most of the vendors and our eyes were crossing from sugar and theobromine. So we went out to walk off the buzz on the way to Hill Country Barbecue, which we hadn't tried before. We followed the chocolate orgy with a meat orgy, and the combined effect left us with no interest in dinner (in fact, I wasn't really hungry even the next morning).

Sunday was devoted to Home Maintenance. Thing Two had torn up the front lawn doing leash-radius donuts around [ profile] shalmestere, so we tore up, raked, and seeded the rest of it so it would look uniform, rather than like a poorly-executed alien crop circle. [ profile] shalmestere did about ninety-leven loads of laundry and scrubbed some woodwork, I did two grocery-shopping trips, cooked three meals, and washed a bunch of dishes, and we both sorted through the papers and junk that are currently piled on top of the spare bed (in which my mother will be sleeping in about 72 hours). It was a pleasant, if chilly, day, so we took the Things for a walk in the park before dinner.

As we cleared the table and put away leftovers after dinner, we heard a doleful cry from the living room. Thing Two was standing, holding his right hind leg up, and crying in pain. We couldn't see anything wrong; I massaged it and worked the joints, and in about thirty seconds he had stopped crying and was putting weight on it again. Muscle cramp, maybe... but the same thing happened (to the left hind leg, IIRC) a few days ago, and we're having horrified flashbacks to Thing Negative One, who yelped inexplicably whenever he turned over for months before abruptly becoming paraplegic due to an undiagnosed tumor on his spinal column.
hudebnik: (Default)
Last Thursday, I noticed that one of the broccoli seedlings (see April 15th) seemed to be starting to bloom, but I was too busy packing for an SCA event to do anything about it. That evening, Thing Two was doing donuts at 30 MPH in the front yard, and kicked up that very seedling. So I trimmed off the blossoms and ate the broccoli-looking parts with lunch on Friday. Some of the other seedlings looked like they were thinking about blooming, but I was (again) too busy packing for an SCA event to do anything about it. We came back from the event on Monday afternoon, and (no big surprise for the gardeners out there) almost all of the broccoli seedlings were in full bloom. And the ones that aren't in bloom don't have much stalk yet, much less enough head to eat. (Come to think of it, even the ones that are in bloom don't have much stalk or head!) I've never grown broccoli before: is there a trick to getting a substantial head before they bloom?

So now we have a front yard bordered with pretty, cruciferous yellow flowers, and no broccoli to eat. At least they haven't died, which would be demoralizing.

Da Weekend

Apr. 15th, 2007 10:32 pm
hudebnik: (Default)
It was a pretty good living-history show: the weather was quite good, neither too warm nor too cold, not too windy, not too sunny nor too depressingly overcast; we got a few spatters of rain just at closing time, when we were planning to pack up anyway. There weren't hordes of visitors, but a decent number, and we got to talk to them about armor, food & cooking, tents, music, fingerloop braiding, swordplay, etc. The Sunday show was cancelled due to weather forecasts of steady, often heavy, rain, so we packed up quite efficiently (under the threat of rain), went to dinner, drove back to [ profile] sutragirl and [ profile] snolan's house, unloaded stuff quite efficiently, stretched out things that needed to dry, and suddenly realized that we were all dehydrated and exhausted. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it, but I mustered the strength to change clothes and spend half an hour or so in the hot tub with [ profile] shalmestere, [ profile] sutragirl, and [ profile] snolan. <arlo-guthrie>And then we went to bed and didn't get up until the next morning...</arlo-guthrie> fairly late the next morning, in fact. Spent a pleasant, laid-back morning chatting and eating show leftovers, packed the car and headed back to NYC in the pouring rain. At least it's daylight and pouring rain, and we're not as tired and cranky as if we had done a show today.

[Writing this in the car:] We'll get home at a civilized hour, the good Lord willin' an' the crick don't rise (and I mean that literally -- there were a lot of soggy-looking fields a few inches below road level as we left [ profile] snolan and [ profile] sutragirl's house). Monday I have to teach a class at 9 AM, cover a colleague's class at 10 AM (since his wife is having surgery), teach a class at 11 AM, play a starring role in a faculty meeting on general education learning outcomes assessment from 12 to 2, and teach another class at 2:25. The rest of the week calms down a little, but I have a lot of homework to grade, and homework assignments to write, and a conference presentation to prepare before leaving town on Thursday to spend Friday and Saturday at the conference.

Let's see... what else has happened lately? [ profile] shalmestere and I read Barbara Kingsolver's new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a nonfiction chronicle of her family's "year of eating locally": they swore to eat nothing whose provenance they didn't know (which in general meant either they grew it themselves or bought it from local farmers they knew). They made exceptions for flour and spices, since neither grows well in southwestern Virginia, where they live, and since spices are so light and non-perishable that transporting them a few thousand miles from where they grow to where they're consumed doesn't have much environmental impact. The book inspired us to get to some farmers' markets in Manhattan (there are apparently none in Queens until May or June), and on Tuesday, after the probable last frost of the spring, I picked up a flat of broccoli seedlings, tore up a few square feet of the front lawn, and planted them. I don't know how much sense it makes to try to grow vegetables in a suburban front lawn, but our "back yard" is concrete, so the front lawn is the only place to even try such an experiment. (Actually, I had slightly more seedlings than I could fit in one row across the front lawn, so a few of them are in a pot on the windowsill -- not that I expect to get a harvest from a pot, but if any of the ones in the lawn die in the next few weeks, I can replace them.) Broccoli allegedly likes moist, cool weather, which we've certainly had for the past week. We'll see how they're doing when we get home.

Update: We're home now. Even going at or below the speed limit the whole way, we got home in less time than it took to drive down on Friday, because there was no traffic. Which doesn't make it an easy drive, in heavy rain for most of the 6-1/2 hours, but at least we're home before my bedtime.


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