Paseo

Every night, after supper, we go for a walk, which we call our “paseo.”

Most of the year we walk along interior farm roads, past our pond and through the woods. But in the summer the ticks prevent that. This time of year we walk mostly along the paved road, a round trip of over two miles along the border of our farm.

It’s a peaceful and quiet road, which bears the name this community once had. It is rich with history and memories. We usually have it to ourselves. We never fail to see wildlife, but it’s unusual to see a motor vehicle.

These pictures don’t do it justice, but I thought I’d share some shots I took on our paseo.

IMG_4289

IMG_4330

IMG_4331

I really love this place.

Advertisements

Transition

IMG_4315

Our spring garden is starting to peter out. As things have bitten the dust, I’ve been plowing them under. We still have collards, napa cabbage, 4 varieties of kale, rainbow chard and a few beets.

Meanwhile the summer veggies are starting to arrive. We’re harvesting onions, green beans, squash, zucchini and peppers. Yesterday I dug the garlic–over 1100 bulbs. Our basement now smells like garlic.

IMG_4314

We’ve had over 4 1/2 inches of rain this week, including over 3 inches last night from a series of violent thunderstorms that drenched the newly tilled soil and blew up my one-day old fence box energizer. I have 650 sweet potato slips I’d planned to plant this weekend. Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

Hopefully in the next week or so we’ll start picking tomatoes, continuing our transition to the next wave of goodies.

IMG_4312

Lessons: Seed Saving and Hoop House

I’ve never been diligent about seed saving. Some we always save–sunflowers and purple hull peas, for example. But with most things I’ve just taken the easy way out and bought seed every year.

Last year I decided to try saving a few more things, figuring I’d start with easiest and work my way up to the more difficult. So I saved watermelon, cantaloupe and okra seed. The results were a mixed bag.

The saved cantaloupe seed did great. I had nearly 100% germination and the plants look good. The watermelon, on the other hand, was a complete fail. Hardly any of the seeds germinated. Not believing it was the fault of the seed, I replanted and again nothing came up. Finally I broke down and bought seed, which I just got in the ground last week, a month behind schedule. The saved okra seed germination was mediocre. Had I planted it more thickly then thinned it, it would have been fine. As it was, I filled in the gaps with new seed and it’s all coming along fine.

I don’t know why the watermelon seed didn’t germinate. I planted it in the same garden, at the same time, as the cantaloupes. As for the okra, a friend told me his experience has been the same. He quit saving the seed for that reason. I have no idea why the seed company seed outperforms our saved seed. But for now my takeaway is that I will continue to save watermelon and okra seed for use in emergencies, but will rely on purchased seed, if available.

As for the hoop house, I’ve learned not to try to plant squash in it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, pollination was terrible. I attributed that to an absence of pollinators (which was definitely a factor). Nina, the Matron of Husbandry, directed me to self-pollinating zucchini seed, something I hadn’t known existed. Researching that seed I learned that zukes won’t pollinate above 90 degrees. As the summertime temps in the hoop house are routinely over 90, that must have been a major factor as well.

I’ve been hand-pollinating the plants and we’ve harvested a lot of beautiful zucchini from the hoop house, much earlier than our outside plantings, but the yields are very poor. As if that wasn’t enough, pollinators may not like it in the hoop house, but squash bugs love it there, and they’re doing their usual brutal job on the plants. So no more zukes in the hoop house.

The beans we planted in it are doing very well, as are the tomatoes.

Lessons learned.

I can do something

I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

Edward Everett Hale

The 4th Revolution

Something interesting to think about this morning…

In an interview I heard recently the guest made the case that the information revolution is the latest of four great revolutions that fundamentally change the way we humans see ourselves in relation to the rest of the universe, continuing a process of “de-centering” humanity.

The first, he argues, was the Copernican Revolution, following the discovery that the earth is not the center of the universe. The second followed Darwin’s discovery that humans are animals, sharing common ancestors with all other animals on earth. And the third followed Freud’s arguments for the existence of subconsciousness and his claim that that we don’t have full volitional control over our own minds and thoughts. Each of these “revolutions” had the effect of breaking down our anthropocentric world view and the belief that humans occupy a special, central place in the universe.

The argument that the Information Revolution is a fourth revolution continuing this trajectory is interesting. Now, with the development of artificial intelligence and deep-learning neural networks, it appears that thinking, perhaps even consciousness, are not uniquely human, or even uniquely biotic. Many of the capabilities that distinguished humans from “lower animals” can now be done by machines, and the machines are becoming more capable at an amazing and accelerating rate. In the past we might have said, “Sure a computer can do math, but a computer can’t play chess.” Now computers routinely beat human chess grandmasters. Then we might have responded, “OK, but a computer can’t teach itself to play chess.” Now computers can. And the same process is occurring in countless other ways.

It’s interesting to consider (if you’re as nerdy as me) how humanity’s self-perception may change over the next generation or so. In the past it would have seemed absurd to deny that the earth is the center of the universe, to claim that humans are descended from lower animals, or to claim that our actions can be attributed in part to the working of an unconscious mind. Will it someday be absurd to claim that high intelligence and self-consciousness are uniquely human?

Maybe, maybe not. Either way, we’re privileged to be alive during a time of such fascinating change.

All That Is Gold

IMG_4017
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J.R.R. Tolkien