We stopped at Palumbo Farmer’s Market last weekend; it’s a for-real farmer’s market (on the edge of their farm, I think) in Brighton, near Denver. Got a couple small things, but they had a half-bushel of giant-ass beets for like $5. Some were gigantic, some were a bit soft, but we boiled nearly all of them the other day to make Pickled Beets with Cumin and Cloves. We got about 12 quart jars of pickled beets from one half-bushel, and we didn’t even use them all! Christmas presents all ‘round!
Also made two pint jars of Salsa Verde with the garden’s green tomatoes, and two half-pint jars of Pickled Sweet Peppers with the last of the garden’s bell peppers.
A lot of talk about sustainability mentions “buy the best quality, and you won’t have to constantly replace cheap stuff.”
I appreciate the sentiment, but the above is kinda simplistic. Believe me, I love the idea of buying good-quality things that I don’t have to replace. Things that might get passed down to my descendants, even.
But here are some of the problems. There’s so much stuff out there, you have to spend some serious time doing research to figure out what the “best quality” is. Let’s say you want something. A garden watering can, for example. You can go to K-Mart and spend $5 and get a plastic watering can. Done. Or you can look online, read tons of reviews (often varying—some say a certain product is great, others say it sucks), find what looks like a top-quality metal watering can for $120, pay extra for shipping a large item, and you have the best watering can.
Maybe. How much of that $120 is just because it’s a name-brand product? Or because it’s from a fancy catalog? Perhaps a $30 metal watering can from Home Depot is equally good, without the fancy packaging and name? Point is, maybe an expert in gardening tools would know, but we don’t have time to be an expert in every little thing that we want to buy.
Perhaps the new metal can waters (slightly) better than the plastic one. Maybe it will last longer—but then, there’s no guarantee of that. Perhaps there’s a manufacturing flaw and it breaks. Perhaps you don’t know everything about professional watering-can maintenance, and it rusts. Perhaps you back your car up over it, or lose it, or you switch to a soaker hose, or you move to a condo, or you give up gardening. But a plastic one will still last you for several years—and you could buy 25+ plastic ones for the cost of one top-quality one. And if one of those later scenarios happens, and you need to get rid of it, you can throw/give away the plastic watering can and you’d have gotten X years of service for $5.
(Another consideration: if you’re buying “products that last for generations,” you have to have storage space for all that stuff when you’re not using it.)
You can apply this to most products—almost every consumer product has varied available levels of quality/price. Shoes, clothing, furniture, electronics… Do I buy ten cheaper dress shirts at the outlet store, or one $100 dress shirt at Brooks Bros.? A fancy iPod, or a cheapie MP3 player? The solution is not necessarily “spend time tracking down the best-quality item and buying it,” but more “find the item whose price/quality is best for your particular situation.”
ART @ ART: Be Art, See Art. 1st Friday Art Tour Friday, November 4th, 2011
This month’s theme is: Light
ART@ART is back. I setup a Twitter account (@Art_At_Art) for the bus, which I will update on the road. Departing from Guildwerks (3821 Steele St. #B) at 6 p.m., and returning there in the end. Please follow the bus on Twitter for further updates.
Hopefully we can get a buncha the oldtimers to go…maybe it will be like old times. I can bring my fire-breathing gear.
Theme is “Light.” Hmm. What can I do for a costume on the theme “light”…?
Denver Tumblrs, this may be your one chance to experience the fun and creativity and joy that is The Bus! Message me with any questions.
Ugh. S’posed to be snow on Wednesday, along with really cold temperatures.
Last spring, I bought a used knobby-tired bike ‘specially for snow-day rides, but I put it in the garage and haven’t looked at it since. I know it needs some work before it’s ride-able; I don’t know if I can do that work before Wednesday morning. Might need to RTD it in that day…
It was one thing being all hard-core I-can-ride-in-the-worst-blizzard bike commuter when I lived in Capitol Hill, just two miles from work…it’s another when it’s a five mile one-way ride. Much more tempting to use those bus vouchers burning a hole in my bike bag…
Even more so now that recycling/reuse/Craigslist/eBay is so popular, English really needs a word for the concept of “new—to me.” Like, it’s been previously owned, but you just acquired it yourself. As in, “check out my new-to-me car that I just got.” I guess a lot of the time the listener can figure it out from context, but there’s a big difference between “check out my new BMW motorcycle (2012 model)” and “check out my new BMW motorcycle (1995 model).” More than once, I’ve had to use awkward explanatory statements like “Well, it’s used, but it’s new to me”
Tons more basil and cilantro. Also, be better about spacing out their plantings, so I don’t have ten cilantro plants all gone to seed in June.
I’m fine with one each of: garlic chives, chives, tarragon, sage, catnip, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon. Do plant some lavender. Don’t bother with green onions.
Beans: try these again, but start them from seedlings, rather than seeds in the ground.
Okra: start from seedlings, get in the ground early in the season
Eggplants: four plants would be good
Bell peppers: six was a good number. The Purple Beauties did best, closely followed by regular green. Reds did worst. Maybe just do all green or half green, half purple.
Hot peppers: just do four jalapenos. Don’t bother with serranos, cayennes, Anaheims/poblanos, or habaneros.
Potatoes: they did fine in one-square-foot plots. Didn’t do well in the container at all. Maybe grow 12 or 16 instead of eight (put on two ends of a large garden bed?). Cage or stake, since they were spreading out way beyond the bed. See if I can find the ones with purple flesh. Plant them deeper, maybe—it seemed that all the potatoes were within eight inches of the surface.
Try parsnips instead of turnips, or do half-and-half. We got way more out of the turnip tops than we did out of the turnip roots, and the roots took a loooong time to grow.
Do lots of spinach and lettuce, but be better about doing spaced plantings, so we have some throughout the whole growing season. Spring mix in a patio container did well.
Nine plants of Swiss chard should give us plenty. Babby likes his chard.
Radishes: do lots. The simplest ones (Cherry Belle) grew the best, as opposed to the fancier all-white or French Breakfast ones.
Tomatoes: give them more space between plants, and maybe set them back another 6” from the edge of the garden bed—they were growing way past the bed’s edges, and you couldn’t walk past them easily. Get bigger cages, too—they overflowed the cages they had this year. Maybe instead of eight across (each plant in a 1-square-foot plot), do six across and give them more room to spread out. Be better about fertilizing them.
This year, the Romas did well, the Juliets did great—but their tomatoes were pretty small, so unless they were for a salad, you spent a lot of time chopping. The beefsteaks did okay, but not great. The Purple Cherokees were delicate and delicious—but the one plant only produced a few tomatoes and then stopped. The yellow and orange grape tomatoes did really well, too.
Next year: two small-fruit plants in patio planters—yellow grapes and Sweet 100’s (both caged). Maybe 2-3 Purple Cherokees in the garden beds, and 6-8 Romas.
Beets: grow more. Again, probably got more use out of the beet tops than the roots, but we’ve got a great recipe for pickled beets, so…
Rocky wants to do corn, so we’re going to make a special bed against the west fence (between the chickens and the beehive) for a milpita.
Also, leave a few plots open (4-6), so that if we come across some super-discounted tomatoes or something, there’s some space to put them.
Last night I was browsing through one of my favorite books, The Penguin Encyclopedia of Food, and came across this list of Scottish/Borders sweeties (candy)—and the names of these are just too cool:
There’s something so cool about that kind of history and regionalism…you look these up on the web and some little town is like, “This candy’s been made in this town for three hundred years, passed down in a secret recipe. The sweets are sold locally and are a huge hit with tourists…”