Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cold nights, Jack Russells and Heirloom Veggies

We had a pretty chilly night here last night. Had to bring all 5 Jack Russells on the back porch. Any night time temps under 45 degrees get them a warm bed, in their kennels. When it is warmer, they like to be outside, in a puppy pile in the doghouse. But I have talked about that in older posts and so I will just leave it at that.

Everything in the greenhouse is still gorgeous this morning. It was about 75 degrees yesterday and so I wet down the floor of the greenhouse and left the doors closed tight all day. That kept the heat in. The evaporating moisture from the floor raised the humidity and so the ambient air was warmer after the sun went down. It wasn't cold enough to do any real damage in the greenhouse but you never know when the forecast might be wrong. We are generally at least 2 degrees colder than whatever is forecast and sometimes a little more, so can't be too careful. I babied all those plants for far too long and they look far too good to lose them in one cold night.
I plan on taking some pictures of them and posting here but my camera battery is dead and I can't remember to charge it at night.

In addition to my tomatoes, peppers and basils, I planted another several hundred squash seeds in flats this week. The varieties are my specialty ones, mostly using seeds directly from the regions of Italy and other places, where they are favorites. Regional varieties of zuchinni, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, basils and other herbs,winter squash and pumpkins abound. Most all of the ones I grow are heirlooms that have been grown in their respective regions for over 100 years. Regions like Cambria and Tuscany have favorites, small villages have favorites. The Italian people are passionate about their food and so they are equally passionate about having the freshest and best ingredients to start with. Many Italian cooks believe that if you don't have the specific variety to make your recipe from, it won't be the as good. I love that concept!

I also love the idea of growing a food plant that is growing somewhere else in the world. It is very cool to grow from seeds that came from a particular region, grown just the season before. Makes me feel globally connected to people in other parts of the world who are just like, growers, land stewards, whatever we are. I am especially enthralled with Italian varieties, obviously, for the reasons I already stated and because they are fairly accessible, if you know where to look. But I also love more elusive cultural food plants like African, Asian and South American varieties, which are a little harder to find, but it is ultimately rewarding when I get my hands on something new.

And for as much as I love my international heirlooms, I am passionate about Native American heirlooms, many of which are in danger of disappearing from the planet. Several dedicated orgainizations are currently seeking to establish heirloom seed banks to preserve this heritage from our own indigenous peoples.