November 29, 2012 · Posted in Garden · Comment 

The garden experiments have been quite interesting this fall.  I found some open pollinated heirloom sweet corn seeds at Ace Hardware a few months ago. The corn grew quickly and quite large, about 7+ feet high.

I only planted a small patch with a very high density.  The chicken manure has been quite a blessing I believe as the corn took off.  As the corn is open pollinated I am saving the first few ears that grew for seed.  The first eating ears were picked yesterday.  The corn has excellent fill, and the one ear that was picked at the right time was quite sweet.  I am quite pleased with this corn, and perhaps with some experience picking the corn at the proper time we will get some excellent eating corn.

Also, the beds I planted for intensive gardening are doing quite well. Spinach, Swiss Chard, different Lettuce types, Beets, Brussels Sprouts, and Broccoli are all doing quite well.  My one problem crop is Cabbage. I can’t seem to get it to come up.

On Monday I was able to get the seeds started indoors under lights for my spring garden.  All open pollinated varieties so far.  I have been quite interested in native, heirloom and open pollinated seeds, that way I only have to buy the seed once and it will provide in perpetuity.  Including some Celery seeds I collected from the Celery that “accidentally” grew in the mulch bin and was transplanted to the garden.  Who knew celery will grow from the cut off bottom?  I found it out the hard way.  I am not a big fan of celery anywhere except in stew, however I do enjoy the seeds and dried leaves as flavoring agents.  I am hoping that the seeds will start and I may get some more leaves and seeds.

Perhaps the best reason to use open-pollinated seed is that even if the seeds are not organic, I can grow the plants organically and then the seed I harvest is organic seed and I can grow it as such in the future.  My seed source of choice lately has been, a seed bank type organization that seeks to protect the native seeds used by the Native Americans in the southwest.  All of their seed is open pollinated, and all of the varieties are cataloged as to where they grow best.  The varieties that grow well in the low desert have been very productive. I got over 2 lbs from the black-eyed peas I grew over the summer, on 3 plants.  I was also able to harvest quite a bit off the panic grass (a type of millet), and amaranth.  Perhaps next year I will venture into the world of true grains, but this year I am quite happy just growing my own fruit/vegetables and saving the seeds.  I will start planting my saved seeds with the summer planting season once it gets hot again.  May that day not come for a long time!

Insane Camping

December 2, 2007 · Posted in Camping, Photography · 3 Comments 

Well this weekend Jon and I went camping. We headed out to the Pinal Mountains, with the goal of camping at Pioneer Pass and hiking either Six Shooter Trail or Icehouse Canyon Trail. Lots of fun! At least that is how it started.


Once we started up the mountain there was a little change. Not only was it wet, it was muddy 🙂


But at least the scenery, clouds, and rain was a beautiful sight.



My only complaint was that it was completely dark so early. Around 5:30 it started getting really dark. By 6:00 it was too dark to see anything.


Setting up a new tent in the rain was a little complicated. Eventually we succeeded in getting the tent set up. Before we could move in we had to let the 2 gallons of water out that had collected inside before we could get the rain fly on. Needless to say the floor and walls were wet. The whole experience reminded me of the three months of constant torrential rainfall I experienced during the two winters I spent in Chile. While I was in Chile I invested in a very nice rain suit. The type sailors wear. It kept me as dry as was possible for those two years. It kept me just as dry on the camping trip. Unfortunately Jon doesn’t have such a rain suit. A poncho doesn’t cut it. (Chelsea, if you read this, and think Jon and I are stupid enough to go camping in such weather again, I know where you can get a great Christmas gift for Jon). Actually it made me a little homesick for Chile, being outside in rain that falls sideways and straight up instead of down. Once it was ready the tent made a nice abode, although still wet and cold.


Just as we were cooking dinner, over the sound of the wind and rain we heard the sound of an engine on the road. We figured we weren’t the only crazy people up there.

After cooking dinner in the tent, we fell asleep about 8:30. I woke up at 10:00, and 11:00 to the sound of the wind. Actually we never really determined if it was the wind, or Boeing 747’s passing 100 feet above our heads. Being in the pass we figured it wasn’t jets, they would likely have struck a mountain, but the sound was very similar. At 12:30 we were both woken up to the sound of not only a very strong wind, but trees falling. When a tree falls in the forest, and someone is around, it definitely makes a sound! It is a sound I’d be happy never to hear again on a rainy, windy night when the only protection I have is a one inch diameter hollow aluminum pipe. In fact the only circumstances where I’d like to hear it is when I’m holding the chain saw that caused it to fall. We decided that we should head down the mountain. I know, 12:30 am, 5 hours after we got the tent up, is not the best time to take it down. It took about an hour to put it up and about 20 minutes to get it down. We were on our way down the mountain by 1:30. As we slowly made our way down the muddy, narrow, winding road we saw a few downed trees, damaged by forest fires in years past. One tree was blocking the road. Luckily it was small enough Jon was able to muscle it into the ditch. We made our way down the mountain, hearts still pounding from the sound of trees falling. We navigated our way down the narrow, windy switchbacks; the mountain to our left, and a sheer cliff on the right. If I started to slip my plan was to move to the left and lodge the truck into the side of the mountain, instead of plunging 500 feet to the canyon bottom on the right. Luckily it never came to that. Once we crossed the bridge we knew pavement was only a couple of miles, and the canyon bottom was not nearly as far as it was near the top. My heart stopped pounding, and my nerves settled down after we were out of four wheel drive, and on hard, wet asphalt. It took at least 30 minutes to navigate through those 5 miles of muddy roads.

Once we made it to Globe we stopped at a Circle K to change into dry clothes, and secure the load in the back of the truck. We were in the Phoenix valley by 4:00, and I was sleeping in my own dry, warm bed, cuddled with my sweetheart by 4:30.

No offense Jon, it was a wonderful trip, minus the trees falling down, but I’d rather sleep with Laurie in my warm bed, than with you in a sopping wet tent. Next time I think we should heed the weather, and realize that mother nature always wins. Next time it’s raining like that, we’ll stay home. Sorry Chelsea if that messes up your gift plans.

Moral of the story? Enjoy life, but don’t be stupid about it. Don’t go camping during the storm that drops more rain than all the storms during the previous 12 months combined.

(Photos courtesy of Jonathan Nelson)