Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Glory Bower is in Full Seed!

Let the Fall Season Begin!

The Harlequin Glory Bower (Clerodendrum trichotomum*) that fills the north end of our porch garden has changed from full, sweet-scented summer bloom to its riot of fall color.  I fell for this plant in the fall.  These seeds are OUTRAGEOUS! The indigo blue seeds and fuschia pods, which open into star-like "petals" are actually much showier than the flowers.

Talk about off-season interest in the garden! 

Some call it a small tree (I do and that's how I prune it), some call it a large shrub. Tree form is easiest, I think, because it spreads both from suckers and the seeds, which are poisonous to humans but apparently fine bird food.  I can pull suckers and mow seedlings much easier under a higher, open canopy.

Want one?  Next spring I'll have batches of babies!  Oooh, I'll pot some up for the plant swap!


PS.  Clerodendrum is the official genus, but Clerodendron makes more botanical logic and is often the spelling you find, from me and most plantsfolks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NPR - Mexicans find American eggs pale, tasteless

Photo of a factory-farm egg laying hen.
Well, there's a new crisis every day and this week it turns out that Mexico is running out of eggs.  Eggs are an important part of the Mexican diet, famous for huevos rancheros and more, so this is a major concern. 

Driving in the car, I caught the NPR broadcast of the situation.


And here is the bit that caught me right away:

"The first shipments from the U.S. have already arrived at Mexico City's
huge wholesale warehouse and are helping to stabilize prices.
But egg vendor Adrian Hernandez says his clients don't like the U.S. imports;
they tell him the American eggs don't have any flavor,
and that the yolks are pale."

Here in the U.S., it has been a generation or more since the General Population had anything but factory-laid, supermarket eggs.  Here in a country of obsessed eaters, Americans truly don't know the difference!

Egg comparison done by the NY Times. Supermarket egg is
on the right. Notice that you can't even see the whites....

Unless, like me, you have a free-ranging,
garden-munching, bug-snatching,
happy gang of hens laying eggs
with bright orange yolks
 and whites that hold their shape
 (not some watery goooooo).

And here's a question:
Do you ever get totally confused by the labelling on things like eggs? 
Organic, cage-free, free-range, vegetarian....omega-3 enhanced... ? 

Check out this rational article that gives a quick run-through of the many terms: http://today.ninemsn.com.au/foodandwine/254469/choosing-the-best-eggs 

One of the most important frauds I see perpetrated right now is the idea that eggs from "vegetarian only" fed chickens are somehow better. In real life, vegetarian-only-feed means that the birds are kept totally caged, never outside where they could eat bugs or worms - exactly the kind of factory production corporate farms hope to maintain.  Chickens are omnivores by nature

I'm telling you, the person who came up with vegetarian feed only" chickens as a positive marketing message is a GENIUS.  And, sadly, it shows how little most people know about chickens (or any other food source, for that matter), that Americans think this is a good thing.

My RoosterMan guarding his bug-hunting hens.
Oh, dear, and I'm rehoming our chickens.
Scaling down to leave our farm.  This is terrible.
I've got to get to work on those townie zoning ordinances.
I don't think I could go back to "supermarket" eggs if I had to.
And my eggs were one of my last holdouts from total vegan living.  <sigh>


PS  Just for the record, in case anyone thinks that the first sad photo is not realistic, I can tell you as someone with a graduate degree in agriculture, you really, really don't want to take a clear look at most of our country's meat production if you want to feel good about yourself. You should, but you don't want to.  I'm sorry, I truly am, but that is just how it is. And bear in mind that now that the sick little hen in the photo has given out as an egg-layer, they are going to turn her into some chicken product for you to eat.

Bah! Get yourself a bit of backyard and raise a couple of chickens.  No, don't eat the chickens, let them live happily for a long time, laying eggs  - and eat those bright, tasty eggs!  Instead of antibiotics and hormones, you get entertainment and affection.  You know you can't beat that for health and healing!


Monday, September 17, 2012


Once again, the faithful Night-Blooming Cereus has put out her magnificent flowers right on schedule.  They seem to come out each year just as the nights get cooler.  It's a pleasure to sit on the porch and watch them open. The white flowers stand out against the darkness of the night and the fabulous, sweet fragrance fills the entire area.  Cereus cacti are night-pollinated by the large beautiful sphinx moths.

The first year I "adopted" her from a friend and brought her back to a really  healthy state, Cereus put out a number of blooms that opened like a slow animation as the evening went on.  As the blossoms opened and lifted, the entire plant seemed to quiver with effort and anticipation.

She wanted a moth!  
She needed that moth!!!  

I watched her opening each blossom along the branches hanging over the edge of her clay pot, there on the screened in porch.  As the petals of each quivered open, you could almost hear the yearning for moth, moth, moth! Finally, sympathy won out.

 "Honey," I said, "I've had moments when I felt the exact same way!" and I carried the Cereus, pot and all, out into the free night where the moths flew.

A gal has just got to have her chance, you know?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's All About Eating Plants!

As some of you know - or maybe not -  I've been working my way toward a "plant-based" lifestyle the last couple of years, accelerated recently by a direct command from my cardiologist.

Let me just say right now that 
I never intended to HAVE a cardiologist 
and I intend NOT to have one as soon as possible.

Since two of my twin passions are gardening and self-sufficiency, this plant-based (vegan) lifestyle makes a great deal of sense to me.  After all, growing vegetables and fruits is what I do - for a living, for a hobby, for relaxation. Well,  I "grow" animals - my beloved chickens - but, heavens!  Not to EAT!  <laughing to herself>  And, okay, we've been eating their eggs, but that may be about to change.

So, I gathered up an armload of veggie cookbooks, veggie lifestyle advice books and stacked up a ready reference of veggie websites.  So much to consider!  So much to absorb!

Or, is it?  I found this illustration on http://www.guidetoveganliving.org.uk/  and I had to laugh.  Here it is, friends:

Remind me not to make life more complicated than I need to, okay???