Today was a beautiful day with sunny skies and a mild breeze. The weather people said that we may have had a record — 73 degrees — and it’s still technically winter for a few more weeks! The Mamas don’t mind at all (and neither do we), although they both got sick from this change in weather.
Last week Mama L. came down with a two or three day flu. She was riding her bicycle home when she actually felt the bad winds entering her body, between the shoulder blades. She told Amy Lee this story and Amy said that she is living testament to ancient Chinese beliefs that bad winds enter one’s body through either side of T-2. Or the ankles. Mama told us that back when she was very young, her Grandma would do the coining to get rid of the bad wind. In Vietnamese it is called “cạo giὀ”, or literally, “scratch the wind”.
Now Mama M. is sick too. She has bronchitis, so completely different from what Mama L. had. But it is still wind-related. She had to go to urgent care tonight to get some medicine because she wouldn’t stop coughing. That was because Mama M. went to some gala event over the weekend and stayed out too late. And she wasn’t dressed adequately against the wind. Then she missed hiking with all of us the next day and Auntie Juni is still mad at her. We had a great time hiking though — this place might even be better than Redwood Regional Park because it is so wide open. Mama L. doesn’t know what it’s called, but it’s up in the hills overlooking San Leandro.
With the weather getting nicer, Mama L. has been wanting to spend more and more time outside. We don’t mind at all, because we get to keep her company and help out with the gardening even though she usually protests with our choice of activity. She’s been doing a lot of reading and research on small spaces, and has decided that this is the year that she is going to grow everything. And she’s going to grow them all in containers, not in the ground. She even decided that she would plant them according to favorable moon phases.
We thought Mama L. had gone off the deep end, when she exclaimed that you would have been proud to see this bountiful harvest as she carried a big armful of chard into the house! She had grown three varieties of Rainbow Chard from little seedlings. She had also grown some beets in the same planter, and the leaves are nearly as big as the chard. The picture shows a mixture of all the pretty greens. The chard just seems to keep producing greens, as long as she keeps harvesting the leaves every so often. And they seem to get bigger too! She had thought they were supposed to be replanted every season, but so far it has lasted through two.
This season, Mama L. gave up the idea of building more wooden planters out of the extra wood we had in the garage. That would have required too much work, she said, and she was getting antsy to get started. So Mama L. purchased several small galvanized tubs and punched holes in them for drainage. Then she lined the bottom of each tub with an inch of drain rock. Then came several layers of rich soil and coconut coir fiber. She read somewhere that this is actually even better than peat moss, rockwool, vermiculite, perlite or pumice. And it’s ecologically good as well. It is made from compressed coconut fiber, and has a very good balance of wetting and aeration and a resistance to bacteria and fungus growth. It holds 8-9 times its weight of water and has a high nutrient-absorption capacity. After she brought a huge bale of it home, she went crazy and started adding loosened chunks of it to all the containers. She said it’s probably the best admendment she’s ever added to the clayey soil we have. From the look of things, we will have lots of yummy veggies to eat soon.
Last weekend she planted cauliflower and broccoli and red cabbage and collard greens and peas and bunching onions. This past weekend, she planted have several varieties of lettuce, three different kinds of carrots with really great names (“Cosmic Purple”, “Chatenay”, “Solar Yellow”), two types of radishes including a “Japanese Long Scarlet”, and some more beets. Except for the lettuce, the carrots and the radishes were seed-sown. She’s a little nervous about those, because she’s not had much success with starting things from seeds. Maybe the coco coir fiber will help.
Here is a picture of the birds commenting on Mama’s gardening techniques.