As the World Turns and Tilts

2020 was an extraordinarily dry year, at least from May through through November.  In December, there were three significant snow storms, dropping between 1″ and 4″.

I tried to capture the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction on the winter solstice, but this is the best I could manage with my equipment (powerlines in the foreground):

I have not seen a ladybug in the cellar since December 7th, and most of the plants have died.  Between the cold nights and the heavy aphid load, it’s just too much for subtropical plants.  I could turn on a heater in the cellar, but I just don’t see how I could recover that high heating expense.

Outside temperatures have dipped into the single digits several nights and into the mid-30’s indoors.  Here’s the thermometer in the seed room this morning:

I only heat the room where I package seeds, prepare seed labels, etc.  Use of electricity has jumped from 209 kWh in August to 562 in December.  Tough on the budget – one of these years I’ll install solar panels.

Here’s a little project that takes up a bit of electricity in the form of a seedlings heating mat – purple sweet potato purchased from the local grocery store:

So far, after 18 days, there is no sign of slips starting to grow.  I’m thinking maybe they were irradiated, or perhaps it’s just not warm enough for this heat-loving vegetable.

I am seeing very good growth from the nasturtium plant that I dug up on October 22nd and transplanted indoors:

This is just about the only plant that the deer didn’t destroy among those planted along the sidewalk.

On November 24th, I started processing the last major batches of tomatoes for seed extraction, which included about 45 batches.  A couple of the more attractive specimens included:

Barnes Mountain Orange

Gezahnte Buhrer-Keel

Final batches of tomatoes, about 20 batches, were processed for seeds starting on December 10th:

Since most of the tomatoes in these final batches were picked green and ripened indoor (in direct sunlight, as much as possible), it’s not surprising that about half the seeds floated and so were discarded.  The rest should be viable.

Tomatoes for eating are all gone now, except this one holdout:

There was this decent-sized slicer on December 1st:

And this one on December 8th, also sun ripened, which was much tastier than it looked!

There are several batches of peppers still to process:

Campanita is an interesting looking pepper variety – “little bell”, with moderate heat:

And cucumbers.  These Straight Eight cucumbers were harvested in mid-October and have hardly changed color or dried out, despite being “ripened” in the sunlight for over two months.

I know from experience (i.e. many mistakes) that it is very challenging to get cucumbers to mature fully on or off the vine.

The cucumber variety Muncher, for example, which I hand-pollinated and mollycoddled all year – including moving the 20-gallon pot in which they were growing down to the cellar under metal halide lights – looked like it finally ripened a couple of mature fruits.  But alas, very few seeds were mature, and most don’t appear to have even been pollinated.

I think an earlier start and a greenhouse is definitely the way to go with cucumbers, at least at this elevation.

Of course there are several squash still to be processed for seeds – I’ve been eating all the squash I can handle.

Zucchino Rampicante

And still several more on standby:

Last watermelon of the season was Cream of Saskatchewan, harvested rather immature in mid-October and consumed on December 18th.  It was very tasty and even moderately sweet — though it was a bit odd to eat a watermelon that wasn’t very juicy.

Many of the seeds appear to be viable!  I’m not an expert, but it seems that watermelons and tomatoes can be picked immature (though they need to be at least close to full size), ripened indoors and yield viable seeds.  But cucumbers, peppers, squash and many others will not perform this helpful trick.

It seems incredible that the earth is tilting back on its axis and the days are getting noticeably longer already.  Where did the time go?  It has been almost a year since I unloaded the moving van, and the living room is still utter chaos, with boxes upon boxes of stuff to be organized.

I’m just no sure when I will find two days “off” to organize this mess.  Which tasks do I not do?  Every morning I wake up to 100+ hours of work that “must” be completed before midnight.  Filling seed orders is obviously the #1 priority most days:

Seeds from Delectation of Tomatoes

Sharing seeds, seedlings and fresh produce are the most rewarding tasks of what Delectation of Tomatoes is all about.  And these are obviously essential to allowing me to continue doing everything else.

I’m not even going to start listing all the other support tasks that need to be done, many of them rather urgent.  “Overwhelmed” is a feeling that affects me only if I allow it to do so.  The work is pleasant and enjoyable for the most part.  I just don’t have enough energy or hours in the day.  Working fast and efficiently are mandatory and have become habitual.

On the bright side, how many people get to do what they love, make their own schedule, work from home, and do something that aligns well with their value system?  Not very many, I surmise; so complaining about hard work would be hypocritical and counterproductive!

On to 2021!