Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

There was a lit-tle Spanish flea ...

You know what sucks? Having a cat who escapes for a day and then returns home with fleas. What sucks more is not realizing there is a sizable flea population until it's kind of serious and you, the humans, are being bitten. The suckiest thing is when the treatment you buy for the cats (all of them, because of course if one has them, they all do) doesn't work even a little bit (damn you, Hartz!), and then the flea foggers you set off don't work (double damn you!), and then even Frontline doesn't kill ALL of the fleas, and when you come back from your weekend visiting your in-laws at the shore so you don't breathe in toxic fumes, your bedroom is so overrun with fleas that you have to go check in to the fucking Hilton.

I've had an exterminator in twice in the past two weeks to spray chemicals in my house. If I am resorting to chemicals, you know this shit is serious.

And did I mention I had some sort of Indian meal moth infestation in my kitchen at the same time? That was fun, too. I haven't traced the source exactly, but they seemed to be everywhere. It probably didn't help that Booby left an open package of pancake mix in the cupboard, or that my mother gifted me with a package of cookies from a discount store (both were full of little teeny moth cocoons). Are you feeling itchy yet?

I promise I'm not actually a filthy pig. It's just that bugs are conspiring against me. Or something.

So that's why I haven't been around, or been in touch with anyone, or leaving comments on anyone's blogs. I have been so busy cleaning out my cupboards, vacuuming every day, changing my sheets umpteen times, and laundering every item in my closets in hot water that I have barely had time to think, let alone do anything more mentally strenuous than check my email.

As I told Booby, the upside here is that we were forced to clean the whole house, together, which is something we had been fighting about daily. Nothing like a new baby to corral your energy away from housekeeping. I rounded up 30 bags of stuff to give to the Salvation Army, and now all my towels fit in the closet they call home (after having been laundered in plenty of hot water, of course).

I also made up a chore chart, much to Booby's chagrin, although his chores are fairly minimal since he's the breadwinner while I'm home with the baby. I have to earn my keep! Ha ha. Actually, I thought there would be a revolt if I placed too many chores on his shoulders, so I gave him only a few hard ones. My hope is that these chores will become second nature. And then you can all ask me for my recipe in Stepford Husband-making.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Rooting for the little guy

I recently read Barbara Kingsolver's new non-fiction book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about her family's decision to leave the Southwest and go live on a Virginia farm, eat locally exclusively, and raise chickens and turkeys. Oh, man, it was awesome. I'm not generally a non-fiction fan, but this was interesting (and inspiring) reading, and it might be for you, too, if you're a big food nerd like me.

Now, I'm not about to go live on a farm (though I won't pretend that it's not something that Booby and I have discussed at great length -- the stumbling block right now is the lack of high-speed internet available in rural areas, which would prevent him from working from home), but that book renewed my interest in having a real vegetable garden that works for me on a year-round basis. And that means fall planting.

Fall planting means garlic, delicious anti-vampire food that it is. According to Ms. Kingsolver, there are bazillions more varieties of garlic in this world than you'd ever see in the supermarket, being that such varieties are grown for their ability to travel well. I would lament for the poor, lost varieties of produce that we'll never get back again, but that's another post, and I'd rather focus on the exciting world of heirloom seeds and the like.

You may not know this (I didn't), but the chances are good that your faithful old seed company is either owned or supplied by corporate giant Monsanto. Yeah, the same Monsanto who gave us rGBH, which is partially responsible for our lowered resistance to bacteria and the early puberty of millions of little girls, is now the largest seed corporation in the WORLD. I don't want to give them my money, I want them to go pound sand, as my dad would say. So I had to do a little research and find some little seed companies.

My travels led me to a nice list at Casaubon's Book. Sharon has put together a thoughtful list of seed companies and some warnings about the more popular ones. She mentions checking out Dave's Garden to see who owns what, but I didn't see any mention of Monsanto there. In fact, I couldn't find a complete list of exactly which seed companies Monsanto owns anywhere, not even on their website. However, when you're blogging while your baby sleeps, time is of the essence, and maybe someone does have a list somewhere. Anyway, further trawling revealed another nice list of organic seed sources, listed by state (always good to buy local when you can). I'd figured I could buy from Burpee (local to me, and a trusted name), but it seems that though they are independently owned, they are supplied, in part, by a Monsanto-owned company.

I also remembered hearing about a rare seed catalog on You Bet Your Garden on NPR sometime last year. That's where I found J.L. Hudson, Seedsman. You can order their print catalog, but as I recall, there are no pictures in it, so it's probably best to just order online and save a tree. I couldn't find any garlic there, and it occurred to me that garlic is maybe best grown from the bulb, so off I went to Fedco, notable because they ceased business with Seminis Seeds after that company was bought by Monsanto (unlike Burpee). That's my kind of company. Sadly, Fedco stopped selling garlic bulbs on August 31st. What was a lazy gardener to do?

Keep googling, apparently. I quickly found Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, which supplies heirloom organic garlic packages, one of which is listed as a "beginner" set for $11. I also found Hood River Garlic, which is certified by Oregon Tilth, and seemed to have a larger variety. It also seemed that "seed" in reference to garlic does in fact refer to bulbs. Duh. I have bought packages of onion seed before, so I assumed that "seed" meant seed, you know? Ah well, live and learn. I opted for the Susanville softneck variety, because softnecks are apparently easier to grow, and it stores for a long time. I was sorely tempted by the Chesnock Red, because it's hot and Georgian and the flavor is supposed to be wonderful, but I figured I'd start small (and easy).

My garlic bought, I can now think about clearing up the remains of my veggie garden, which is still producing a few measly tomatoes. The cucumber plant seems to be pulling a Lazarus, and the eggplant suddenly has a profusion of purple flowers (each one with a thin black spike near the stem, as I found out the hard way). Now, on to winter sowing ...