Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Line In The Sand

I went down to the beach farm on Saturday morning to check on the garlic, most of which is doing well in my main plot. Here is 'Asian Tempest' and 'Music.'

Purple Stripe variety 'Chesnok Red' is doing just as it should be. I've learned through my two past seasons that soil unimproved with organic matter, particularly compost, will produce poor results in anything but the hardiest of garlic varieties. When the soil is balanced, rich in organics, any variety has shown to do well.

This Marbled Purple Stripe strain, 'Siberian,' is the case in point. This is the most vigorous of the purple stripe strains, one that did moderately well at the Amagansett Farm. Because of this, I planted them in three rows at the boundary of my plot, in soil that rarely gets worked because it is at the edge and somewhat in the shadow of my neighbors planting. In other words, this area was the walking row. Growth here is not nearly as vigorous as the other rows of the same plot, the plants have yellowing leaves, and have had a good amount of rotted cloves.

All the greens seed has sprouted in the neighboring plot, and the peas too. I feel a little bad about it, but not too much. I'm sure whoever has this plot will make do, in fact they should harvest. Having new neighbors is not always easy, as I've learned over the last year at the apartment. I do try to get along with everyone at the garden, although sometimes I hear gripes, not usually about me, but about others. Gripes generally concern petty things, or things one cannot change, or people one refuses to confront. Gripes tend to remain gripes.

I headed over to the other plot, the one I applied for last summer after the rush on empty plots. As evidence for my previous observations about worked soil, I submit this image of the other plot's garlic. Easily fifty percent, varieties that have done well for me before, have not survived. A major disappointment. I've been planting lettuce in the rows vacated by dying garlic.

A neighboring gardener asked me if garlic was all that I was planting, to which I answered no, that I would be planting tomatoes and what not as the garlic empties out. He then gave me some unsolicited advice about spreading fertilizer around individual plants, like the lady formerly on this plot had done. Okay. Then things got weird. 

Before I go on to tell this story, I need to say that I'm not unfamiliar with the squabbles that seem to pop up like weeds around "community" gardens. I have no doubt that this is the reason these gardens are so heavily governed by rules. My tenure here has been relatively trouble free, although, as I said before, I've been the recipient of some gardeners' gripes and my policy is to listen, but stay out of it. I come here for peace and enjoyment, and to learn through growing, and the last thing I want is to participate in conflict.

So the gentleman, neighbor to my new plot, says that he wants to give me a heads up. Oh, what's that? Well, people have been complaining that my plot is too big, that it impedes the movement of the wheelbarrow at the corner. Well, yes, I can see how that might be a problem. He goes on to say that he has no problem, it's others who have the problem. Fine. I then made the observation that, as you can well see in the photos below, that my offending plot edge happens to line up with all the plots, so these "others" can't seriously make the case that I've extended my plot beyond the normal limits, can they? Well, apparently, yes they can

What happens next boggles my mind. He asks me why I have to drag him into this. To which I must serve that he brought it up. Now he's angry, and makes his case that my plot goes beyond the allotted ten feet width, is five inches farther into the walkway than his, that he wants no part of this problem and I should leave him out of it. What can you say to that?

You know, it's not really the supposed five inches of extra girth that is getting in the way of the wheelbarrow turning, but the sink, which you can see. It blocks the pathway by just under two feet at the intersection. I mention this, but he'll have none of it, argues that I am now advocating for the removal of the sink, a sink that has been there for four years (unlike me). I point to its protuberance, but do not advocate for it's removal, after all it is useful, just poorly situated. However, I also state that I do not want to take my plot back enough to fit the wheelbarrow, particularly now while garlic still grows along that very boundary, when it is rather obvious that the sink is blocking its passage and again, that my plot lines up with every plot. 

What is absurd to me is how evident all this is. I should have just said I wasn't interested, but something tells me that would have been provocation enough to set this guy off. No matter what I do, I'm new to the corner and I should consider myself notified of the politics already in place. Who needs this aggravation? It's gardening. On the beach.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mrs. Castillo

Today, as the clouds gathered for a late day rain, our neighbor's daughter approached the garden to tell me that her mother and our neighbor across the hall, Mrs. Castillo, has died. I could see how hard this was for her and yet she bravely told me, said she thought we should know and I'm so glad that she thought so. Unlike Fabio, upstairs, Mrs. Castillo had a strong support network of children and caregivers to help her with her illness. We are so often busy that we hardly saw each other, but we respected her, and helped her when she needed it -simple things like holding the door or getting the mail. I shared garden tomatoes and herbs with her, while she grew some serious hot peppers. We'd give her garlic and she'd bring us cookies. The smells of her cooking often got me jazzed for dinner. Knowing well how building cooking odors can be terribly off, her cooking actually made our building smell better! She will be missed by us, truly, we couldn't have asked for a better neighbor. Requiēscat in pāce, Mrs. Castillo.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What The Camera Makes Blogger Takes

Last January I uploaded a picture, the one below, taken with our new Canon G1X. It happened to be the first Photoshop-edited image uploaded to the blog in the new year. The Canon makes pictures of a quality and tonal range I hadn't been accustomed to since my shift to a phone camera three years prior. What appealed to me in this image was the level of detail in the burnt orange leaves clinging to the oaks in contrast to the blue-grey shadows raking across the snow. I was excited to show off the new image, but after viewing the upload I couldn't help but to see a pronounced deadening of the tonal range in the shadows and a summary of detail in the leaves. The image may as well been taken with my IPhone.

In late February I noticed Blogger's inability to render the icy snow in shadow without changing it's blue color toward red (making it lavender). This time the camera was my new Olympus XZ2. These two events were new to my Blogger experience, so it must have been something new. Or were my prior poor source images concealing what Blogger had been doing all along?

Recently I have been applying to several opportunities, many of which require links over the old-fashioned CD portfolio submission. I created a temporary Blogspot address and began uploading large, thousand-pixel wide jpegs. For some older paintings, like the one below, I had only IPhone images because these paintings were finished during my camera-less period. Phone images of large paintings tend to be pixelated, with choppy tonal gradients, and poor color accuracy. This image, below, shows those tendencies, particularly noticeable in the sky (too blue with stepped tonality) and the mountains (too red and blue). Nevertheless, it uploaded to Blogger looking much as it did in Photoshop and considered serviceable.

I used the Canon G1X to make new images a week ago because IPhone images simply will not do when there is a better option available. After taking these I processed them in Photoshop as I normally would, saved as a maximum jpeg and then uploaded to Blogger. The result, below, has somehow been processed by Blogger, pushing heavy on the red and yellow (probably to balance the blue). Now, despite an excellent source image from the new camera, the Blogger variation shows much worse color than the previous IPhone upload! Since this discovery, I've uploaded all my images to a Dropbox folder and am using that as my portfolio link. There, all images show accurate color -see the image

So, Blogger, what gives? Google searches show people with variations on this problem. The apparent solution is to make a Google + profile to attach to my Blogger account, at which point I will be given access to a control panel that has a couple of radio boxes that I must uncheck to disable the photo processing Google is doing by default. But I have no interest in Google + or its various demands. Consequently, I will give uploading png files a try, which apparently are not affected by the Blogger processing. On the web, some people said png solved the problem, but others not, either way the png is a larger file and less desirable. Below is the png upload -far better than the two above.

And, since Google also removed the ability to pay for website domains through Blogger, I will probably allow my art site to lapse when the domain goes unpaid tomorrow (I cannot access the account, which is somehow connected to the domain, yadda yadda, before it was easy, now it is hard). I will use the Dropbox folder for image viewing until a real site can be developed. In the meantime, I will get back to painting, where all the work should really be.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Greenwood Quickie

A quick trip through Greenwood on Sunday. Cherries, quince, magnolia, and one mystery plant in bloom.

Fist-pumping angels.

So what's this? Redbud -bush? Looks to have been around quite a long time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April Snow Showers

This is the last of the snow in our yard, somewhere around eleven thirty ayem. The Elephant garlic could care less.

Each of Larry's pots, all on the shady side of the block, had a collection of slow-watering snow to melt.

But the tulips were all whatever.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rainy Days, Frozen Nights, and Other Outtakes

On Saturday I headed to the beach farm, some iceberg and red leaf in van. When I arrived a fence piece was thrown on top of my greens bed. In fact, the whole plot turned, potatoes, peas, greens, and even the saffron. Shame the new plot owner didn't recognize the crocus. It's all too tiring to explain, but I will say the plot was not mine and so plain too bad for me. 

Tonight it may freeze, just a few days after our average last freeze date. No worries, then, things are late this year and I've no sprouted greens or peas to contend with. 

A good rain and warm days should activate the soil organisms. Let's hope the garlic does better than it has so far. The new plot, it is now being told to me by long timers, is cursed. Nothing grows there they say. Oh. Bless them, they all thought I could cure it of its curse. 

Below is a painting I've rekindled. Autumn and popsicle trees are great challenges to my way of painting. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Never Trust A Weed

I've planted some pansies; I can't say I've ever done this before in my gardens. What is happening? These here in pots that were empty.

The lilies are up, no surprise as the garlic is also up -including the elephant garlic I've planted around the garden.

Never trust a weed. Never.

Smothering Potentilla indica, everyhere. A garden swan song.

Always trust Dicentra eximia, anywhere, everywhere. It died two years ago, under some heavy foot traffic, but reseeded itself. Here, at the edge of the poor man's patio, it seeded itself once again. It is one of my favorite plants, all time.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fits and Starts

I started my greens this weekend. Two kinds of romaine and a buttercrunch, bulbing fennel, and Italian parsley. This watery scene is the starting tray, under cellophane wrap in the window.

At the beach farm more losses, particularly in the newest plot and particularly Turban and Creole. Disappointing yes, and now the maggots have found the rotten flesh. But I also direct-seeded a ton of mustard, arugula, and mizuna, snap peas and pea greens. Now that I am eating so many salads, I'm looking ever more forward to this bounty.

I think I prefer this scene over the prior.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nursery Thymes

Larry has been putting out more and more each day. Today was the first for perennial flowers, space previously occupied only by the cool weather pansies, forced spring bulbs, and herbs. I can only imagine distributors of perennials itching to get these out to retail outlets. Anyways, I wouldn't buy them but they are sweet to see when I wrap the corner.

In other Larry news, he has installed large roll-up gates around the nursery. The idea is to open up the plant yard to the public instead of barricading them behind 12 foot chain link. I think it is a good idea and given the cold winter, with luck his nursery may operate in the black this season. As I pass the plants, in the dark of night, I often think of what business or residence could replace this corner nursery. To me, there is very little that ever could.