Saturday, October 13, 2012

Garden setbacks

Our efforts to make our landscape more edible suffered a couple of setbacks today. First, our beautiful, bountiful basil crop, which we were all set to harvest today and turn into puree to keep us supplied throughout the winter, got zapped by a frost last night. By this morning, more than half of the leaves had  turned a sort of bruise-colored brown, either all over or in spots. I pulled the plants and salvaged what I could, but by the time Brian had picked it over and processed it, we only had enough puree to fill about eight compartments in the ice cube tray. So I guess we'll have to ration ourselves to one or two basil cubes per month if we want this to hold us through the winter. Makes me feel like a real dope for not checking the weather report last night and rushing out to get it picked sooner.

Then, today, we finally began the process of turning the remains of our forsythia bushes into mulch—and quickly discovered the practical limitations of our little secondhand chipper. It can't handle anything much bigger than a finger's width in diameter, and it frequently stops in mid-mulch and needs to be cleared. Brian eventually determined that the crack in the housing, which we'd first tried to glue shut and then patched over with duct tape, was catching hold of stick fragments and causing them to jam the mechanism—and the crack itself was growing gradually bigger as more and more sticks got wedged into it. So we had to call a halt to the mulching process until we can figure out a more secure way of repairing the machine. Brian has determined that it needs to be patched on the inside, not just the outside—which lets out duct tape, because it would quickly peel off and gum up the motor. On the other hand, we can't use anything too rigid, either, because it wouldn't adhere well to the curved housing, and if it fell off it would get caught in the blades. I wondered whether some sort of plastic could be molded to the case and then melted into place, but Brian considers that idea unworkable. So it appears we'll have to (a) figure out a way to fix the chipper, so that we can (b) actually fix the chipper, before we can (c) finish processing the hedge into mulch. And even when we've ground up all the small bits, we'll still have to (d) bundle up the larger sticks that the chipper can't handle, and (e) try to persuade our friend with the fireplace to take the stumps.

Oh well, no one ever said this growing food stuff would be easy.
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