Harvesters, Followed by Planting

May 15 – As many of you know, once a month the Harvesters food truck comes to our church at 9:30 on a Wednesday morning. The truck and driver waits while volunteers unload the foods and arrange them on tables and then load bags or boxes into the trucks or open trunks of vehicles lined up in a long row. The drivers pick up food for varying numbers of families, from one to about a maximum of six, so the volunteers have to figure out quickly how much food goes into each vehicle. After about an hour the vehicles have all come and gone and the volunteers are busy picking up litter and broken boxes and disposing of foods left over.

The truck last Wednesday was not the usual one, and the tables used for setting out the foods were not in their usual compartment, and were dirty. We had been praying that it would not rain, and it did not rain at all, but a little moisture would have helped as we were cleaning off the tables! Volunteers usually go to about the same compartments every time, and so do we.

160515_HarvesterFood

[ Harvester offerings ]

Generally we get bags of potatoes, onions, carrots, or cabbages, but Chris and I ended up with lots of smaller containers of assorted foods that included lemons, limes, melons, cucumbers, squashes, apples, ears of corn, bunches of kale (nasty-tasting leaves!) lettuce, carrots, radishes, individual servings of various vegetables, and even some chayotes.

I could not find the word chayote in any of our dictionaries, but eventually found it on our computer. It is a tropical plant (a pale green pear-shaped member of the gourd family), that grows on a vine and also has an edible root. I believe that this is a Spanish word, and is not pronounced quite like the spelling would indicate. On the other side of the truck the volunteers were giving out several kinds of bread and buns, tomatoes, cheese dip, and chocolate milk.

Eventually the last vehicle in the line came by and was really loaded up with a lot of extra food, showing that the last may not ‘always get the least. The litter and old cardboard cartons were consigned to the wire cage used for burning trash, and the green leavings were given to a lady who collected them for her animals at home before the truck roared away. It will be back next month!

160515_DalePlanting

[ Dale working in the garden ]

Gardening has been a family activity lately, and since any more frosts seem unlikely this spring, we have put out whatever plants we had available. We have 50 tomato plants, 14 sweet potato plants, and quite a few cabbage and Romaine lettuce plants. The cool weather plants we have would be safe even if it did drop a bit below freezing. We have radish and turnip and onion and beets (very few).

Our sweet potato plants are the O’Henry variety, a golden tuber that grows directly beneath the plant’s roots and pushes up a mound of soil as it enlarges. It can get really large and is very tasty. It is tasty to other creatures too, as the last time I had this kind of sweet potato, voles got at them and ate several of the big tubers, leaving just a shell. I have a number of little kohlrabi plants growing in a small flat but they seem reluctant to grow well and may end up as a zero on the production scale.

160515_MorningGlories

[ Morning glories ]

Most years we try to have a row of Heavenly Blue morning glories growing on a fence along the road. We have to get the ground worked up as it went to grass last year, and then I will soak the seeds and plant them. Oddly, they don’t seem to be able to set seed here on their own. Other varieties do, but not the Heavenly Blue, which I think are imported. A row of blooming Heavenly Blue is gorgeous. Get out there and plant a row of your own.

I have a lot of white datura seeds and am planning to get some of them started soon. We had a whole row last year, and as they grew well, they crowded a lot of our cabbages. The flowers are large and very fragrant at night; this attracts the moths that pollinate them. By mid-morning they have usually closed up and are dying, but there are many more on the plant that will open soon. The seed pods are large and prickly, and eventually split and drop the seeds on the ground. All parts of the plants are poisonous, by the way! – DALE

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