Monday, March 30, 2009

The Life, She's a Good

She's also a bit cold (4 C - 39 F) and heavily overcast. In the greenhouse it's 15 C (59 F) so the seedlings seem reasonably happy, if jumping out of the ground indicates happy.

[Later edit] With heavily overcast skies and brisk wind temps dropped to 12 C (54 F) by late afternoon. Because the next few days are forecast to be cold and grey we brought out the second trouble light and put it in the greenhouse. The temp went up to 15 C again. I am now using the top two shelves but tomorrow morning I will block off the bottom (third) shelf, so the lights don't have as much volume to heat. I'd like to see the temperature at 18 C if possible.

When we put them out this morning there were a few more Roma tomato sproutlings in the (second) flat I started a week ago. Now, two hours later, several Starfire, Purple Prince and Brandywine tomatoes have emerged, plus a few onions and several Thai basil seedlings! I'd been a bit worried that the wildly varying temperatures in the greenhouse the past few days might have cooked/chilled the tender seeds past the point of no return. Evidently not. By the end of the day the raab, bok choi, and broccoli seedlings were showing secondary leaves! The Brussel sprout seedlings look considerably better than they did yesterday, when they simply looked like little mutated knobs on stalks. Several more came up during the night as well.

To remind me that spring will eventually arrive I looked through and found a picture of one of last summer's squash plants. I went out yesterday afternoon and turned the soil out of one of the short but stout containers I'd grown squash in last summer. As I remembered it has a single drainage hole in the bottom, but it also has an attached plug, so it can be stoppered. A much taller container shoehorns neatly inside it, leaving an 8" space between them. With a bit of jiggery-pokery I can create a large self-watering container from the two. Since I have several of each of these containers I can make several large SWCs. I'm thinking melons, squash, maybe tomatoes?

And on a different subject; There's a large willow adjacent to our neighbour's place. Beneath it is a flower bed, maybe five by eight feet, roughly oval in shape. There are a few bulbs in it, none of which bloomed last year. (They probably need to be divided and replanted, a task I might take on in the fall.) Otherwise this flower bed was a weed patch and eye sore last summer, with weeds higher than my waist. Oddly enough the neighbour kept it watered, which made little sense. I flew in there one day and weeded it. There was nothing growing in it at all when I finished, but at least it looked tidy.

Yesterday he told me that I can use that area this year. I am delighted! I have some malvas, delphiniums and cosmos seeds that will probably grow like crazy in there. I might add some aged manure and ring the bed with some kind of "attractive" veggie. I have to go over and fork around in the ground to see how deep the sandy soil is. It has a rock border, and is underlain by enormous willow roots so it won't be root crops.

Outside the purple finch is tenderly feeding his lady love sunflower seeds he's shelled for her. He sure knows how to sweet talk a gal.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Report on Upstarts

Sunday March 29, 2009

On the 18th March I planted:

• Perpetual spinach
• Broccoli Raab
• Bok Choi
• Chinese kale
• Red onions
• Green onions
• Chives
• Brussel sprouts

Everything I planted that day is up, except for the chives. However, only three half-hearted and somewhat sad-looking Brussels sprout seedlings have emerged. All have deformed cotyledons, and may end up being culled, if they don't die first. That was newly bought seed too.

On the 19th March I planted:
• "Sweet Million" tomato
• "Gardener's Delight". tomato
• "Tumbler - F1 hybrid" tomato

The Gardener's delight and Tumblers came up three days ago, I think every seed must have sprouted. Three so-so "sweet million" came up yesterday. The remaining six pots are empty and may house something else within another few days.

On the 23rd I planted:
• Roma tomato
• Brandywine tomato
• Purple Prince tomato
• Starfire tomatoes
• Red Holland onions
• Rosemary
• Thai basil

Three Romas came up during the night, as of yet nothing else is up in that flat, but it is early days. At the moment all the flats and pots with seedlings are in the greenhouse. While it's only 4 C (39 F) it's cozy in there, even with the trouble light turned off. Yikes! Cozy indeed! Good job I went out to take pictures!. With a temperature of 5 C (41 F) it was 40 C (104 F) in there. I unzipped the door completely, don't want to cook these veggies just yet!

The most brilliant Purple Finch ever is chowing down on my bird seed right now. He is a stunner. Bet the girls are gonna find him irresistible.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

The lights out and electronics went off for Earth Hour at our place tonight. We even switched the fridge to propane. We joined millions all over the world who also turned their lights out for one hour.

Okay, politicians, get the message. We expect you to pick up the ball, quit your partisan bickering, your pandering to big oil, to "clean" coal and nuclear nightmare and listen to us. We are a growing force - and we demand that you stop selling out the future.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bounce Bounce

Maybe not too high, but high enough so that I could crawl off the heating pad and start a bunch of seeds, then go out into the garden and plant those three Japanese Painted Ferns.

In the "seed department" I planted:

  • Nine peat pots of California Wonder (Bell) Peppers
  • 18 pots of yellow pear tomatoes [first six emerged on April 2]
  • 18 pots of "patio" tomatoes.

The yellow pear tomatoes are vines, (indeterminate) but the patio type are a small determinate (non-staking) type which grows very well in a container. I caved and bought pepper seeds because I love peppers, though I have never in my life had any luck trying to grow them. But peppers grow very well here, so perhaps there is a chance I will get a pepper or two.

Of course there's no way I can use all these tomato plants I have planted, but I plan to give many of them away on "Garden Day" the first week of May.

So, even on a "bad" day I managed to get a bit of gardening in. And that turned it into a "good" day.

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This...

Rhonda, at one of my favorite blogs, Down-to-Earth, writes eloquently today of disappointment and "down" days and asks other "Simplers" about their experience with these. I raise my hand.

Yesterday we went to Penticton (20 km or 12 m) for the usual monthly purchases, cat food, litter, vitamins, odds 'n sods we haven't been able to find locally etc.

Our first stop was the garden centre where I was delighted to find seeds for yellow crookneck squash and (gasp!) dwarf okra, which grows only 28" tall and thus will be much easier to find a place for and harvest than the six-foot-tall variety. I also was thrilled to find Japanese painted fern which I wanted for the shade garden. I bought seeds for a climbing bean from China called "Painted Lady" which has lovely red and white blossoms, seeds for bell peppers, yellow pear tomatoes, patio-container tomatoes and numerous other potentially delicious and beautiful things. I got forget-me-nots, red poppies and bachelor's buttons, all easy-to-grow annual seeds I can sow in spots which get a bit of sun but not enough to grow veggies.

But it was a long day with visits to seven different stores. While I did okay with the walking; climbing in and out of the truck, and even maneuvering in and out of tight parking spots are not things I find easy to do, and I did a lot of both yesterday.

When I had polio as a 10-year-old my right side was more severely affected than my left. My post-polio-syndrome has been relatively stable for many years but I've noticed an increase in my scoliosis and a reduction in strength on entire my right side in the past few months. I'm simply having trouble getting my right side to do its fair share of the work.

I am desperate to get more seeds started, and I need to carry water to my garden, as some things of the plants I uncovered are now wilting due to the dryness of the soil and we still don't have running water outside. And yet, here I am, lying on the heating pad, having taken two pain pills and a muscle relaxant to try and head off the migraine I feel coming from the muscle spasms in my neck and back. I am in pain, top of head to soles of feet.

So my disappointment is centered around the restrictions imposed by my physical limitations, and my "down" is as "lying down", not down-in-the-dumps. I know that I will recover over the next three or four days, the ferns will get planted, seeds will get started, and the conversion of regular containers to to self-watering-ones will happen before it's time to plant them.

It's cool (10 C - 50 F) and very windy today. The sun keeps disappearing behind rafts of clouds. But Tony just checked and the little greenhouse is a toasty 26 C (79 F) with the help of the trouble light. The seedlings are looking good. I am beginning to wonder if the Sweet Million tomato seeds were no good - they were several years old - so far not a one has come up. But if they don't grow I have about eight other varieties of tomato to replace them with.

While I rest I surf and I blog. I plan, I watch the birds out the window. I am loved by the cat, who is snuggled beside me, purring happily. He hates napping alone. So even a "down" day has its compensations.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Haunting Fear...

James Glave commented on my post yesterday, in particular taking some exception to the idea that I spoke of "greening" as a personally joyful activity.

Maybe the "greening" we've done hasn't been much of a sacrifice because we never adopted the consumerist lifestyle. We swore off using credit in 1981, and haven't incurred debt since. We lived, more or less comfortably, but it meant there were years with no new clothes, no meals out, no shopping trips or holidays, no nights out at movies, and few if any "luxuries". Sometimes we missed these things, much of the time we didn't.

We have the choice to do/own at least some of these things, but we are reasonably happy without them. (I'd much rather buy new plants for the garden than new clothes anyway.) But it takes a strong commitment to something to ignore the pressures of both Madison Ave and society in general, because being out-of-fashion and out of step makes one an object of suspicion, even derision. The chic, hip and trendy are worshipped in this society.

So I can well understand that when someone's motto has been, "He who has the most toys when he dies wins," reining in ecologically could be a gut-wrenching process and a sacrifice. For some people turning off a lightbulb when they leave a room is an annoyance and a sacrifice.

Nonetheless we cannot as a society, and a species, continue to consume ever more and more. So we either have to get our asses in gear, reboot and get back in line with the rest of the natural world which gives as it takes in an ever replenishing cycle, or we may well join the dinosaurs as an extinct species.

While recognizing that doing anything differently is a challenge for some, it doesn't hurt to enjoy what you are doing ecologically. Some wag said "Puritanism is that haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be enjoying themselves." Extending the analogy, I don't think we need to be eco-puritanists who feel that only when we suffer do our efforts count.

Part of this greening process will surely be that we relearn how important family, neighbbours and community are to our survival. We do not thrive in these islands of isolation we have created for ourselves. To this end I am working on encouraging families in our small community to compost, grow vegetables, put filters on their taps and give up bottled water, insulate, use CFL bulbs, cut energy and water consumption, and recycle.

This is, for the most part, a community of retired people. Only about 25% are under age 60. Many have significant health or mobility issues. So not only do old habits die hard, but even small changes can involve considerable disruption of routine and are a sacrifice. Here's where we must support each other in an active, caring way. It's not enough to preach ecological responsibility. It means you say to your neighbour who has a heart condition, "Let me help you with your recycling, plant some vegies in containers on the deck, or set up your compost box. I like having an excuse to visit with you anyway."

Ecological awareness is also sharing time, produce, rides, shopping trips, and a meal on the deck. So we don't have to be alone as we face the changes ahead. As we knit up the raveled sleeves of both community and environment, we find that while knitting can be pleasurable and productive, it is also at times tedious, exacting and exasperating work. Anyone who says differently hasn't done much knitting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Middle Way

To Buddhists "The Middle Way" is a term with rich connotations. Put simply, it implies a balanced approach to life and the regulation of one's impulses and behavior, close to Aristotle's idea of the "golden mean" whereby "every virtue is a mean between two extremes, each of which is a vice." While the word middle denotes balance, it should not be confused with passivity or compromise. To tread the Middle Way implies ongoing effort.

In the broadest sense, the Middle Way refers to the view of life that the Buddha teaches, and to the actions or attitudes that will create happiness for oneself and others. Thus, Buddhism itself is sometimes referred to as "the Middle Way," indicating a transcendence and reconciliation of the extremes of opposing views.

My friend SM pointed me towards the writing of eco-author James Glave, and one of his posts titled the Middle Way caught my eye. Read the entire post. He said in part,

"...How do we get to the place where vast numbers of us understand that a balanced atmosphere is the key to prosperity, security, stability. That it is not only the path out of this economic crisis but also the key to our shared future...

...We’ve seen some once-fringe green behaviors [become normal] as of late. ...I’ve also been thinking about the people on the “continuum of green.” ...Let’s put green types into three groups: the “baseline” greens, the “keen” greens, and the “bright” greens.

Baseline Greens : ...behaviors, products and actions that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in most of North America...recycling, composting, shopping for organic and fair-trade labels, cloth shopping bags, push mowers, programmable thermostats, re-usable aluminum water bottles, fuel-efficient cars, swirly light bulbs, etc.

Keen Greens have made some kind of personal resolution. ...mall averse, they love eBay and Craigslist, they have one car or a shared car, they’re avid cyclists, purchase carbon offsets, done some kind of home retrofit. They’re locavores and food gardeners. They volunteer. They shop for durability, not just price.

Bright Greens. ...ahead of their time. ...revolutionary thinkers. They perhaps live in Eco-Villages, or want to. ...They push the boundaries constantly. They’re not luddites working the farm, though, they’re very tech-savvy. ...they have trouble relating to “regular” people who don’t get what is going on in the world. ...privately, they are terrified that the change is not coming as fast as it needs to..."

Glave continues "...change will come from the middle section... The keen greens find inspiration in the bright greens, and “push down” better behaviors and choices to the baseline group... It’s up to those who have made some changes to show the larger group that there’s nothing to fear." 

This started me thinking, of course, where are we on Glave's “continuum of green.” ? I think we are "Mottled Greens", and I suspect there are a good many like us. We do most everything in the baseline list, with the exception of not always choosing fair-trade, as it is not always available. We do not cycle or purchase carbon offsets (actually I did once), but adhere to most of the Keen Green criteria. And Bright Green? I would love to live in an eco-village, be off the grid, and figure out a way to save the earth, but unless you consider using cloth wipes instead of TP "pushing the boundaries" we mostly sit on the "Keener" side of the fence and gaze longingly into the Bright Green pasture.

Of course, if the truth be told, even Baseline Green is five steps up from what 50% of North Americans practice on a daily basis. We need a "cradle to cradle" reworking of our industrial and agricultural practices. The time has come for Middle America to adopt the ecological Middle Way, the balanced approach that recognizes there is no way to escape the closed loop we are in. What we dump on the path we eventually have to walk through, eat, drink and breathe.

What Glave missed, at least in this one post, is that none of this ecological caretaking feels like a sacrifice, at least not for me. In the same sense that working at a boring job can be fulfilling because it provides for your children's needs, "greening" yourself is purposeful and brings with it a deep sense of satisfaction, even joy.

Spring Stock-Taking

We've now pulled back the thick leaf mulch I laid down in my shade garden last fall. Time to see what has survived this very cold winter, what didn't and what might be lurking underneath the soil as of yet.

Right off the bat we can write off the rosemary. It doesn't usually make it through the winter a full zone south of us, but I wrapped it hoping that, if the winter was mild it might accidentally survive. No joy. Dead- dead - dead.

I don't see any sign of the hosta. It's as if there was nothing planted in that spot. It may still come up so my hopes are alive, even if the hosta isn't. Likewise the toadlily is absent, but may peep up later. It's supposed to be hardy to zone 5.

Now, for the things which did survive.

  1. Astilbes, both of them have sent up bright feathers of green;
  2. The burgundy mums, both have new shoots and new green leaves;
  3. Lots of thyme, some is winterbitten where it poked through the mulch, where it was covered it looks (and smells) great.
  4. The Hellebore has sent up shoots;
  5. Elija Blue grass - gave it a haircut :~)
  6. Hen and chicks, five or six in different spots. Don't see my prize red one but they do go underground and come back up, so it may be there.
  7. The lavenders are a little worse for wear but are alive.
  8. The heathers - obviously squeaked through by the skin of their teeth. Half the foliage is dead, but some is still living on all three specimens. These really haven't done a darn thing and I'm not sure why. They are only marginally larger than they were when I planted them last spring.
  9. Creeping Charlie - best looking thing in the garden, trying to crawl over the border fence. Love this little moss.
  10. Deadnettles, not only survived but have spread!
  11. Bearberry or kinnikinic - was covered with red berries, most of which the birds devoured today. It looks in perfect shape.
  12. Coral bells, a little ragged but unbowed.
  13. Mint - sent out two foot runners in all directions.
  14. Tri-colour sage. Hard to say, but it looks alive. The ones at the front of the garden are shriveled, the ones in the far end less so.

I cut back a lot of dead twigs and branches, pulled some remnants (like the flowering kale) and in general tidied up. Must get the remaining piles of leaves bagged, another three or four bagfuls, and start turning my planters into self-watering containers along the "Earthtainer" principle. I also want to get a Japanese tomato ring set up and in action, in preparation for "Garden Day".

I talked to our neighbour Jerry about using the area behind his trailer for containers, which he said he didn't mind, as long as he can still mow. My only concern with using that space is that it's on a corner, adjacent to the tenting area. In the summer 100+ people a day, including many kids, walk past that area, and while most are respectful, I've been around long enough to know that a few can wreck a season's work. So, I am somewhat conflicted about planting there, but perhaps the less showy vegetables would be fine, the lettuces, Chinese greens, bush beans, squash, herbs, etc. while reserving closer spots for the tomatoes, melons, pole beans, etc.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Seeding Continued:

Though it's only 5 C (41 F) outside, the sun is beaming down with lovely intensity, and the temperature in my little greenhouse, even with the door unzipped halfway, is 28 C (82 F).

It's a perfect day to finish up the leaf raking and bagging, but my common sense says I'd best put off that very physical chore until tomorrow. However, common sense was entirely silent when I asked it, "Can I put in some more seeds?"

So I drug the 72-cell flat from the truck, along with the bag of starter mix, and broke out the seeds. My neighbour shared a sackful of seeds with me a couple of days ago, so I have a humongous selection to choose from.

I looked longingly at the squash, melon and okra seeds but it's still a bit early for those. I'm planting more tomatoes and herbs than I could ever use but in an effort to encourage the permanent and full-time summer residents to grow vegetables I'm putting together a Garden Day in early May. I'll invite all the park's residents to come see how to build a composter from a laundry-basket or plastic tote to compost their kitchen waste, show how to dry food, build a self-watering container like the Earthtainer, and a Japanese tomato ring, make upside-down tomato planters, and do square-foot gardening. By then these little plants will be ready to be planted, and many of them will go home with attendees on Garden Day.

I planted nine cells each of these.

  • Roma tomatoes - pear-shaped, great for drying and sauce
  • Brandywine tomatoes (a heritage variety), wonderful slicer
  • Purple Prince tomatoes (another heritage variety) - this one is new to me, I got it from my neighbour, very dark red.
  • Starfire tomatoes
  • Starfire tomatoes - yes, 18 of these. They have been one of the best producers for me in the past, with a lovely tennis ball-sized tomato with excellent flavour.
  • Red Holland onions (spring onions, not the big keepers).
  • Rosemary - mine in the garden did not survive the winter alas.
  • Thai basil - my favorite basil. I have nine different basil seeds, you'd think I liked it. But it's just that I kept trying to find one that would grow for me.

In the greenhouse the little seedlings are greening right up. Staying sturdy, no legginess. I am one happy camper. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

All This Sunshine and Warmth is Making Me Giddy!

There were half a dozen wee plants poking their necks through this morning. It was 30 degrees C ( 86 F ) in the little greenhouse by 11:00 when we were ready to go to town so I unzipped the door quite a bit. By the time we returned the greenhouse was in shade and the temperature inside had dropped to the ambient 10 C ( 50 F ). Then the sun got round and the temperature came back up, and at 5:00 was sitting at a comfy 18 C (64 F). By 5:00 there were half a dozen broccoli raab, two or three bok choi and as many Chinese kale popping up.

It was a lovely day, with bright sunshine and no wind. Where yesterday the lake was full of whitecaps, today it was placid and purple-blue. I opened the front door about 9:00 am and let the sunshine and fresh morning air flood in. What a good mood everyone in town was in! Almost everyone I met was beaming with happiness, enjoying the sunshine.

An important stop was the hardware store where I got two big bags of potting mix, another 72-cell flat, organic fertilizer, agricultural lime and another bag of starter mix.

Then down the street to a funny little shop that carries all kinds of pet and poultry supplies, plus, in the spring, a good line of seeds the other local stores don't have. Here I found curly Scotch kale, Roma, Starfire and Brandywine tomatoes, and (little happy dance here) okra. Alas as of yet, no crook neck yellow squash, but I will keep looking.

A few other errands, a trip to the grocers and then a dash into the thrift shop. When I was there last they had a reflective windshield shade poked into a corner. I saw it but didn't think of how I might use it at the time. But since then I ran onto a site which showed how to make a quick and easy solar cooker with an aluminum roasting pan and a reflective windshield shade. I thought I might pick that one up but it had already gone out the door with someone else. (Drat!)

For my solar cooker project I also need a black cooking pot, so I looked over their selection of pots. No black ones, but to my delight I saw an old 50's-style six quart Presto pressure cooker, exactly like my Mom had when I was a kid. I've been wanting to buy one but couldn't bring myself to part with the considerable cash outlay for a good one, and the cheap ones are - well - cheap. Baaaad reviews.

This one has certainly been well used, not that it's dirty or bashed up, but the wooden handles are worn smooth and it has that "scrubbed a zillion times" look. The rocker weight was inside, the "blow-hole" gasket is intact and the price was an astonishing $1.00. The very cheapest one I had priced had plastic handles and bad reviews and was $49.95. The "nice" one was $129.95. So I saved a chunk of change and the old girl will continue to serve with honor.

Back home again I decided to begin the large task of raking back and bagging the thick leaf mulch I laid on the garden in the fall. There's quite a bit of active growth under there that really needs sun and air. The thyme is growing vigorously and smells wonderful!

Tomorrow, if I can stand and walk after today's madness, I will start more tomato seeds. If I can manage to get a couple of Earthtainers set up I will plant some mesclun mix, Scotch kale and regular spinach in them, as they can stand a frost.

The robins just arrived a couple of days ago and they are already making whoopee. Shameless! Spring has arrived and life is good. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Woo-Hoo Part One

When I looked at my seed flats this morning I was surprised and delighted to see that I had a baby broccoli raab! Apparently it's plant, water and stand back!

My neighbour's husband brought over a small plastic greenhouse, which I had intended to lie flat, but the design enables me to unzip the door from the top as well as the bottom, avoiding the wicked heat build-up which plagued my earlier greenhouse similar to this one.

We set it up against the wall, where it gets filtered sun most of the day, and I popped the flats on the top shelf. (I decided to take a bath, even though I'd pledged not to do so until transplant time.)

It's 8 C (46 F) outside, but we have a wicked wind. I put a thermometer in the greenhouse, tucked up in the shade of one of the flats, and it's read a steady 18 C - 64 F, which is probably a little cool for tomato seeds but it will probably be close to 20 C - 68 F by afternoon, which is poi-fict!

The one drawback you can't escape with this type of greenhouse is that although it has three generous shelves, the top one shades the lower two, so really only the top shelf is good for seedlings. This means when I get more flats planted I will turn it on its back, so there's no shading. Then it will function more like a cold-frame.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Planting Time Begins - Part Two

After looking at the projected maximum temps for the next two weeks, and seeing no days below zero, I decided to be brave as a lion and put tomato seeds into my "Greenhouse".

This morning I drug out the bag of peat pots, the transparent salad containers I'd been saving, and the seeds.

I planted:

  • Eight pots of "Sweet Million", which have done very well for me in the past.
  • Seven pots of "Gardener's Delight". Who knows what these are? Says an indeterminate with "smallish" tomatoes. I'm adventurous.
  • Seven pots of "Tumbler - F1 hybrid" - This is also a variety which has performed well for me in the past.

In the end I could only get two of the three "flats" into the bag greenhouse, so I popped the plastic top from the salad container on the Tumblers and will take it off as soon as they sprout.

Since the seeds I planted yesterday tolerate cool temps well, I can probably put them in a sunny sheltered spot and leave the pickier tomatoes in the greenhouse bag.

Of course I did all this before tackling any housework, so must now get up and clean, do dishes and start dinner in the crockpot. I figured if I cleaned before I'd just have to clean after as I was going to get dirt everywhere in the kitchen anyway. (Well, saying "I was going to get dirt everywhere", makes a good excuse to do gardening before housework. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

Oh, and I solved the cat problem by putting the "greenhouse" in the bathtub and closing the shower door. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Planting Time Begins!

Bear with me, I am now tracking planting dates and varieties etc. If gardening talk makes you slightly queasy better get a bucket!

The upcoming week's forecast for daytime maximum temp is for 9-10 C (48-50 F), but it's still below freezing at night. I want to get started with my cool weather seedlings, but they have to be able to go into the containers and fend for themselves once they get to the transplant stage. Hopefully we won't have -6 C for a high on April 6th, like we did last year.

Anyway, I went to the thrift shop about 10 days ago and bought one of those clear plastic zip-up deals that blankets and duvets come packed in. This is a very sturdy one. It cost me 50 cents. (I know, I throw money around like it was money.)

This afternoon I hauled the plastic dealie in from the truck and decided that the bottom needed some kind of reinforcement, if it was going to not collapse with my seedlings inside. For a while anyway I am going to have to carry it outside for sun in the morning and bring it inside for warmth at night.

I had a piece of white Coroplast, so marked it off and cut it, then fitted it inside the plastic dealie. I wish I could think of a better word for this dealie than dealie. Help me! I can edit this afterward to appear more appropriately linguistically gifted.

Then I popped in the 72-cell flat, filled it with organic starter mix and planted nine cells of each of these:

  • Perpetual spinach
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Bok Choi
  • Chinese kale
  • Red onions
  • Green onions
  • Chives
  • Brussel sprouts

I watered it, and zipped the zipper. The "dealie" transformed into a mini-Greenhouse . Magic!

Now we wait to see how many of these come up. Some of this seed says; "Plant by 2006". I put an extra couple of those seeds in each cell.

I was just wondering now how I am going to keep the wretched cat from laying down on the whole thing? I put him outside in his room while I planted - he wanted to go. I know him. That crinkly plastic will be irresistible. Have to work that out still.

How About a No-kilowatt Fridge?

It is a well-known fact. I go to the produce stand and lose all self-control. I am like a kid in a candy-store. I buy one - no - two - half a dozen of everything.

I come home flushed with victory (and the 35 C / 95 F degree heat), walk in the door, smack my forehead with an open palm and cry "Doh!"

We have a six cubic foot refrigerator! This is a HUGE step up from the 3.2 cubic feet of the fridge in the Tinpalace, but it's still not much when you've just bought 25 or 30 pounds of fresh produce that needs a cool place to rest until you can get it in your tummy or preserved.

So we were debating. Do we buy another fridge and put it out on the deck? Most people here have an extra fridge and many have both an extra fridge and a freezer. But we're trying to cut down on power consumption, not increase it, and we do fine in the winter, when I manage to stuff everything I buy into the fridge.

Then, while looking at a site for solar ovens (of all places) I ran onto mention of something called the Zeer or pot-in-pot which was developed by teacher Mohammed Bah Abba. Bah Abba realized that he could put the second law of thermodynamics and transpiration to work to keep food cool.

The Zeer pot is made with two unglazed clay pots, one pot smaller than the other. The smaller pot is put inside the bigger pot, and the space in between them is filled with sand. The sand is watered twice a day and a wet towel is put on top of the two pots to keep warm air from entering the interior. As the water in the sand evaporates through the surface of the outer pot, it draws heat away from the inner pot and carries it away.

The inner pot can be filled with water, fresh fruit, vegetables or even meat. In this way, fresh produce can be kept for long periods of time without the need for electricity, or the high embodied energy of a camping cooler. Tomatoes and peppers which usually spoil in two days in Africa's heat will last for up to three weeks, and African spinach, which normally spoils after just a day, remains edible for up to five days. Eggplants will keep for up to 27 days instead of three.

The Zeer will keep water (and other beverages) at about 15 degrees Celsius (59 F) and they say that meat can be kept fresh for long periods, though I wouldn't be putting meat in one. I am very squeamish about meat - I want it kept almost at the freezing point. I guess it's better than uncooled at all though, and might keep meat from spoiling for an extra day. So, once the deck is built I will buy a couple of large clay pots and set up a "Zeer" produce cooler on the deck for all that extra produce I go nuts for in the middle of July.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Flavour of the Month

With the approaching spring the annual migration begins. In this case it is the migration of a great deal of winter "underdown" from Red Chief to everywhere! There's cat hair on every surface, and if there happens to be a sun beam, there's a cat hair hanging out in it, poised mid-air, waiting to pounce.

We were eating breakfast this morning, when I saw a cat hair drift lazily down and land in my potatoes. I don't know why I bothered but I stopped to pick it out, and asked Tony, "Wonder if we ever eat a meal without at least some cat hair in it?"

He paused, fork in mid-air, grinned and said, "Tastes like chicken," and went back to eating.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Still Wittering on About Gardening!

The cold blustery days continue, and my desperation to get into the garden grows. I occupy myself searching for alternate ways to grow vegies in small spaces.

I talk to my 80-year-old brother in Texas on the phone most days and a few days ago he mentioned that he'd gotten a flier for a container growing system for vegetables in the mail. He's grown gardens for many years and said this looked interesting, as it's something he feels he could still manage, when he can't garden conventionally any more due to age and health problems.

As usual I turned to the web and came up with the company but of course they are in the US and importing their growing boxes would make them completely out of reach financially.

But with a little more looking I found a DIY alternative called Earthtainers, and I'm seriously considering making several containers along these lines. The idea behind this type of container is that has a water reservoir, which holds several day's worth of water, and the plant wicks up exactly the amount it needs.

The biggest difficulty with container planting is water, especially in the brutally hot summer days we have here. The soil dries out and you often have to water twice a day. If you water superficially the roots get no water whatsoever, dry out and die. If you water too much plant roots become waterlogged, are without oxygen for hours, and die. One too many cycles of "dry and waterlogged" and you have dead or non-productive plants on your hands. And you get tomato plants that look like mine last season. Poor things. This was taken when they were at their best. (Now you know why I posted no tomato plant pictures last year!) They produced moderately well but I think it was out of fear of what that woman with the hose was going to do next!

These containers get around the watering problem. I can see how solving this one problem could increase your production dramatically. While it might seem a bit pricey to start with, it's not going to be inexpensive to build the 12" deep beds I was planning. Filling them with a delivered soil/compost mix will be back-breaking work. And, I fear that when you build a bed, fill it with nice cushy nutritious soil and keep it watered, the tree roots underlying every inch of ground here will sucker right up into it. Willows and these Mock Cherry trees reproduce by exactly that method.

I have a big stack of planters of all sizes and I can see how it would be easy to take the principle behind the Earthtainer and use it to adapt almost any of these planters into a "reservoir" type container. I also will probably buy at least a few totes to use for larger plants, like the melons, larger tomatoes, and maybe some okra.

As soon as it is warm enough to work outside a bit I will haul out the tools and start adapting the planters I already have. Meanwhile you can look at their beautiful site and watch some nice videos on how to build a swanky Earthtainer for yourself.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Ten Intentions

As I've been harping on about endlessly, I've been surfing gardening and eco-blogs. But it's dawning on me as I read blog after blog and look at the blogger's profiles, that most of the concern I see is coming from the under 35 set. So far I've seen only one blog written by someone who is (ahem) mature. I wish this lady was MY neighbour. I'd borrow some worms from her.

But back to my subject. It's obvious that young people have a more immediate concern with sustainability. They are going to live in this world for a good many years yet, and will see the fruit of our profligate ways with far more clarity than older generations will. Many of the older people we know scoff at the idea of climate change, peak oil, or the need for sustainability.

One of the reasons we traded a city apartment for a tin palace was a concern for our environmental footprint. While many like to sneer at "trailers" as a blight on the landscape, it's hard to argue with the fact that in our little 35' long aluminum tube we live very comfortably using 80% less energy and water than the average Canadian. If we worked harder at it we could reduce our footprint further, indeed that is our goal.

We have taken up the "Riot for Austerity Challenge", as we creak through our days, and there's no defensible reason most people couldn't give a little thought to consumption, and live more lightly. So I have been thinking of 10 intentions for this coming year.

1) Grow as much of our own food as we can using the square foot gardening method, given that we have a very tiny spot to work with.

2) Purchase locally grown foods in season and preserve (mostly by drying) food for winter when fruit and vege come in from 3,000-10,000 miles away.

3) Carry my reusable shopping bags and use them. Most clerks don't like them, but tough.

4) Buy as much dry food (flours, beans, nuts, etc.) as possible to cut down on packaging. We have a terrific bulk food store here. I shop there almost every week.

5) Work really hard to waste less food. This is a difficult area because Tony doesn't cook beyond making a sandwich, and when I have a string of several bad days in a row it's easy for fresh food to go south before I get to it.

6) Build a solar oven for summer. I've been wanting one of these for ages and I'm going to try to talk one of our sons into helping me assemble one next month.

7) Start a worm compost bin, which we can keep going inside in the winter. After composting all my kitchen scraps this summer I now cringe as I throw peels and trimmings away.

8) No more TP. This is working out well actually. After one day I took the scissors to those face cloths and cut each one into four squares about 4.5" square. They are very thick, and using the whole face cloth was wayyyy overkill. The smaller squares are perfect. And we both give it a thumbs up for comfort. Now I know I could have bought half as many face cloths as I did. But I've put half away for when the first stack gets ratty. As a side note to the fastidious, the boiling temp of water is 212 F. Our drier operates at 250 F, with the cool-down cycle the contents are kept at 250 F for about 45 minutes, long enough to sterilize the laundry.

9) Re-caulk all windows and both doors on the outside and add permanent double windows. Make heavy curtains we can pull to insulate windows.

10) Use environmentally friendly cleaning agents.

Intentions become actions only if we make them so. We're only two people but as Gandhi said, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Eattin' on the Cheap

Lots of people are looking for ways to cut back on the grocery bill, and boy do I ever have plenty of experience in that area! Before we discovered that half the family has celiac disease and is therefore gluten intolerant, one of our favorite cheap meals was homemade gluten steaks.

If you aren't gluten sensitive gluten steaks are tender, juicy, absolutely delicious, completely vegetarian and inexpensive to make. I'm trying to think what a batch might cost to make up, maybe $1.50-2.00, and it makes enough for three or four meals. Hard to beat that for price. It can be eaten when freshly-made, or it can be frozen to use at a moment's notice.


2 cups whole wheat flour
cold water sufficient for mixing

For broth
6 cups water
1 TBS olive oil
1 large onion - chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp rosemary
2 stalks celery
1 carrot sliced
2 TBS nutritional yeast (NOT baker's yeast)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 packet onion soup mix or beef or chicken seasoning if desired

1) Mix enough cold water into flour to make a stiff dough. Knead for 15 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in a mixer with bread hook.

2) Cover the kneaded dough with cold water and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

3) With dough in bowl, "wash" it in the water, pouring off water as it becomes thick with starch and adding new cold water. (Save the first couple of cycle of wash water in a large bowl to use later to make noodles) If you use warm water the gluten will wash away, so the water must be cold. Work the gluten as if you were kneading it. Within a few minutes you will begin to see what appears to be very elastic "threads" in the dough. This is the gluten, the protein part of the grain, and your goal is to wash the starch away and leave the gluten. The "threads" will accrete as you wash, until you are left with an elastic ball of gluten. It will stretch like a rubber band. The starch will be gone, though some flecks of bran will remain and are desirable, both nutritionally and for tenderness in the final product.

4) Let the ball rest while you prepare your broth and bring it to a boil. Shape the ball of gluten into a roll, slice 1/4" thick slices off the roll, dropping the slices into the boiling broth as you go. The slices will sink to the bottom. Stir with a wooden spoon to keep the slices from sticking together. As they begin to cook the slices will expand in volume from 3 - 4 times and rise to the top of the broth. Stir frequently to keep them from sticking together.

5) Boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, cover pan and allow the gluten to cool. It's now ready to use in recipes. It can be diced and added to stews and soups, ground (like burger) seasoned and made into patties or a "meatloaf" with egg as a binder, dredged in a seasoned flour and pan-fried as "steaks" in a small amount of oil. It is fork-tender and delicious when cut into strips and used in stir fries.

Unused gluten can be stored in the broth in the fridge for several days, or it can be drained and frozen. Freezing makes it slightly chewier, and some prefer it after it been frozen.

Now I have made myself hungry for a nice bit of gluten, which is a foolish thing to have done, considering that Tony can't even eat it. But maybe if I make a batch I can eat it and feed him beef... hmmmmmm.... back later...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Spending Spree

Of course the day after I trumpet the "Austere" lifestyle and the value of being low on the consumer totem pole we went to town! Not Summerland, as we'd been there only three days ago, but to Penticton, which is 15 km away, and thus not a trip we make frequently.

We hadn't been to Penticton for several weeks, but since it's the only place we can buy the Red Chief's food we do have to go sometimes. There was a "list". Everything decides to break at once. One thing breaks and a wave of breaking spread like the chicken pox in a third grade classroom.

Two of our four big Corning ware coffee mugs, one split down the side, one spit a chip. The old ceramic pitcher I kept on the counter with my kitchen utensils in kicked out a side, and threatened me with sharp edges every time I reached for a spatula. Three of our four drinking glasses broke within days of each other, not dropped, they just split down the sides.

So, it was time to do a little replacing, either that or expect guests to pass a communal cup of coffee. True to my word (of yesterday) I hit the Sally Ann and scored four decent coffee cups, not as big as I'd like, but perfectly serviceable and matching.

At the builder's supply we picked up 160 pounds ( 4 - 40 lb sacks) of wood pellets. These are just sawdust dampened and extruded into pellets. No binders, fillers or chemicals. We have no wood stove, we use them as cat litter! They work well, there's no odour, and a 40 lb bag lasts for about three weeks, at a cost of $4.88, about a third of the cost of the recycled newspaper litter we used before. But these pellets are available only from Sept to March, so we stocked up today, and will try to make these last. We have a couple of bags left so have four or more months worth laid in.

Then we hit the dreaded and evil Wally World for an orgy of spending. Four new glasses, a container for the kitchen utensils, a few canned goods, some garden seeds, cat's food and 40 (yes 40) light-weight facecloths. Why you ask? How brave are you? If brave and not squeamish read Crunchy Chicken's Challenge.

If squeamish take a look at this and forget that I bought 40 facecloths.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Riot For Austerity

I've been hitting the gardening blogs pretty hard the past few days. The weather is teasing us and making me crazier than usual. Yesterday it was 10 degrees down here at lakeside, sunny and not even too windy. The tease ended today with a high of four and a numbing north wind that tried to swat you off your feet. Just ahead, a high of minus seven and a low of -13. I'm waiting to put in my seeds till after that blows out of town.

The Red Chief stayed out for about five minutes this morning before pulling me back inside. He just asked to go out again, but when he leaned out the open door and felt the cold wind, he turned around and said, "Thanks, but it much nicer in here."

Anyway back to my surfing gardening blogs. I've added three new links to my blogroll and it is here that I have been spending most of my time. No surprise that they are focused not only on food sustainability but on reducing the impact we make on the planet. One has a sub-page called Riot For Austerity.

Austerity is a fearsome word to many people. (Booga-booga!) But unless we want to send the climate into a spiral which is unrecoverable it's a word we ought to become a little more familiar with. Austerity doesn't hurt so bad.

"Riot For Austerity" is based on a quote from George Monbiot's book; Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning. Monbiot suggests that in order to stop catastrophic global warming, worldwide emissions must be reduced by 60%.  That number jumps to a 90% reduction in the U.S.  (and Canada), since we are such energy hogs.

Monbiot writes that not only do we lack the political will for such a drastic change, but also “no one ever rioted for austerity.”  In other words, the 90% number is easy to brush off as ‘un-doable, and therefore not worth discussing further.’ 

Well, some see it differently.  The group that started the Riot for Austerity blog believes that if a group voluntarily drops their emissions and consumption by 90% over a year, they can show that it is possible. 

They have a calculator, where you can figure your annual emissions and consumption, and compare that level to the US average. Canadian averages are even higher, since we live in a colder climate and import more food and manufactured goods than the US. On this front we did well, we are not rabid consumers.

We have driven less than 1000 km (620 miles) in the past year, and thus used 3% of the average amount of fuel for transport. Our electricity usage was 19% of average. Heating and cooking fuel use was 10% of average. Water about 15% of average. The fact that the toilet uses only a half-cup of water per flush, the washer uses only nine gallons per load, and we shower Japanese-style helps a lot.

Aiiii, where we fall off the curve is in garbage production, though I'm not sure exactly how this was supposed to be calculated. I included everything although I think you were meant to subtract the stuff you compost and recycle. With everything included I figure we produce 44% of the average.

Consumer goods - 26% - This may be high, as I wasn't certain exactly what was included. We buy as few disposable items as possible, and we make do as much as we can. Still we haven't denied ourselves anything we really wanted or needed. We don't have room for much and we don't tend to want a lot that isn't necessary. Much of our spending has been to improve energy efficiency in the trailer.

Food - this category was a bit confusing for me - we do need to eat more locally grown food. We use about the target amount for dry bulk foods, But too much in the "wet goods and conventional" - these are imported fruits and veggies, which we do rely on in the winter. Our big luxury is canned milk for our coffee. We use it straight up, a half can a day (between the two of us). This is probably decadent but the calcium is good for us and we both have a problem tolerating regular milk. The "creamers" are full of chemicals and manufactured fats, while canned milk is just milk.

So, while it is just an estimate, the calculator shows me where I need to pay more attention. I am going to grow as many veggies as possible this summer, and put away more, so we are less reliant on imported foods next winter. And, although I really don't like shopping in the thrift store here, mainly because it is open short hours and is very crowded, I am going to make an effort to begin buying second hand whenever possible.

If it's a riot it's is definitely a quiet one. And we are well on our way to using that 90% less than the average US/Canadian consumer.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Gotta Loves the Interwebs!

Okay, so I am sitting here moaning that I have no room to start seeds, and trolling gardening blogs in more southerly climes, where people are showing off produce picked today and on the way to the soup pot. (sniff)

Then I ran across this site I laid aside the laptop and dug my bootbox full of seeds out of the cupboard. I have about 40 different kinds of seeds, mostly veggies and herbs, but some flowers too, like the California poppie and sweet William seeds given to me by SM a number of years ago when we lived in the OC.

The premise at Wintersown is that you can sow seeds in plastic containers with clear lids and put them outside to emerge in their own time. No grow lights, fancy flats or pampering. The seeds come up with more vigor than ones grown under lights in the warm, dry air in the house. The containers can be as simple as two-litre pop bottles cut in half with then the top slid back down over the bottom planted section. She encourages you to use your initiative and make use of what you have. I'm thinking the plastic cartons I buy baby salad greens in would be excellent!

I've nothing to lose but the price of a bag of growing medium, and if I get a dozen plants to set out once the raised beds are built it will have been worth the price of the medium. I have lots of seed that I am not certain is viable, some are several years old, as I often planted half a package, or less. I might not even take the chance of planting these seeds directly into the garden, as I question the viability.

This will obviously not work with the beans, squash or melon seeds *yet*, as they don't like cold temps, but I have loads of broccoli, spinach, Asian veggies, greens, onions, chives, peas, etc. which would be quite happy to go into the ground now. I'm thinking, plant them and nestle them down in the mulch where they will have some protection from the sub-freezing temps we are still having at night.

Oh the excitement!

Gardening Meme

I don't usually do memes, but I am dying to get into the garden and this is the best I can do. It's like making love. Those who do it least talk about it most.

From: Double Danger

Describe your gardening style.

Deeply thoughtful, meticulously planned - oh, those are both lies and the gods of the garden are gonna strike me dead the next time I step out the door. I dig as large a hole as our root-infested garden will permit, throw in some compost and heel in some unfortunate potted plant. Seeds I just throw on the ground, look at the package and then throw as much dirt over them as the package says they need. I *promise* to be better this year.

What was the last plant you bought?

I bought a bunch at one time, but picking one, a Lenten Rose Hellebore.

What were the last seeds you bought?

Lemon Thyme

When was the last time you had to pick the dirt from under your nails?

What, you've seen my floors? How about two days ago then, when I pulled back the winter mulch to see if anything was alive under there and barely escaped with my life! I swear I did NOT plant deadnettle in that part of the garden! It has crawled 14 feet over gravel mulch to a new spot.

Any big plans for the garden this year?

Okay, last year we landed here on April first, and had a lot of work to do that didn't involve garden. I contented myself with putting in about 50 perennials in the narrow band that was destined to lie alongside the deck. This is called "The shade garden". It's backed by the neighbour's wall, has two huge trees, one at either end, and the neighbours on both sides have 80' tall weeping willows. You need a torch to negotiate at noon!

THIS year (mid-April) our big boys are putting in a covered deck, raised beds in the back for veggies, large containers for fig trees and blueberries, and a cold frame in a spot that is sunny in winter but shaded in summer.

I am adding several ferns to the shade garden, including Japanese painted ferns. I couldn't find any ferns last year, this year I am ordering out. The shade garden has a purple and lime green theme. The coleus' were spectacular so I will pop in a few of those as soon as frost goes.

What was has been your biggest mistake in gardening EVER?

Oh my God. You Internets are vicious! It has to have been planting pea vines on a fifth floor balcony in Calgary, where one falls to the ground when the wind drops off. It's sort of like sea-legs, you compensate for the gale. Anyway the wind twisted the pea vines right out of the soil. Part of me wants to mention the year the telephone man stomped my entire garden into the dirt. My failure was in not having a weapon at hand when I caught his size 12 clodhoppers crushing my *Staked* tomatoes and rambling melon vines.

Biggest success?

600 tomatoes off half a dozen plants in a narrow strip between two three-story Victorian houses. Growing all the vegetables for our family of four, and we were vegetarians at the time.

If you could be doing anything right now in regards to gardening… what would it be?

Planting seeds. I hate buying bedding out plants but have no choice this year as I have no place to start seeds. NEXT Year!!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Villanelle For Our Time

It seems that I am the undisputed Queen of editing, amending and etc and so on my posts. Trolling the web for Villanelles I found others besides the one below written by Mr. Cohen. I include for your poetic gratification, education, glorification, mortification, what-ever.

The villanelle is a poetic form which has only two rhyme sounds. The first and third lines of the first stanza are rhyming refrains that alternate as the third line in each successive stanza and form a couplet at the close. A villanelle is nineteen lines long, consisting of five tercets and one concluding quatrain. (Got that? I do want you learn something from this lesson!)

I love the Villanelle and have written one or two myself (best left unquoted) I have also written of it before.

The Villanelle I know (or knew) best was a Saanen goat as big as a pony, and gentle as a mitten. Many years gone now, but she gave a gallon of milk a day and ate all my raspberry bushes in return.

The best known Villanelle of poetic (and not goatly) fame is Dylan Thomas', Do not go gentle into that good night, which you will find below. But this one by Leonard Cohen is outstanding. He reads it here. Well worth a listen.

Villanelle For Our Time

From bitter searching of the heart,
Quickened with passion and with pain
We rise to play a greater part.
This is the faith from which we start:
Men shall know commonwealth again
From bitter searching of the heart.
We loved the easy and the smart,
But now, with keener hand and brain,
We rise to play a greater part.
The lesser loyalties depart,
And neither race nor creed remain
From bitter searching of the heart.
Not steering by the venal chart
That tricked the mass for private gain,
We rise to play a greater part.
Reshaping narrow law and art
Whose symbols are the millions slain,
From bitter searching of the heart
We rise to play a greater part.

Thomas wrote Do Not Go Gentle.. for his dying father. He sang rather than spoke, listen here. Tragically dear Dylan drank and whored himself into an early grave, dying at 39. People have written poems about him. (I'll bet no one writes me poems when I'm shuffling off this mortal coil. Maybe a round of "So long, it's been good to know ya", which would be okay too.)

Dylan Thomas's
Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learned, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And after all the ponitification and breast-beating we end on a lighter note. John Ford, a noted poet who oft wrote in the style of the Bard wrote the following ditty in Villanelle form.

The villanelle is what?

Enter Mr Jno. Ford as King Edward the Fourth.

I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.
This monarch business makes a fellow hungry.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

What happened to the kippers left from breakfast?
Or maybe there's a bit of cold roast pheasant.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.

A civil war is such an awful bother.
We fought at Tewksbury and still ran out of mustard.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

Speak not to me of pasta Marinara.
I know we laid in lots of boar last Tuesday.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.

The pantry seems entirely full of Woodvilles
And Clarence has drunk two-thirds of the cellar.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

If I ran England like I run that kitchen
You'd half expect somebody to usurp it.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.