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November 26, 2005

Too Much Information

To paraphrase the incomparable Sting and The Police, “I’ve got too much gardening information running through my brain.”

Now that the outdoor gardening season is almost officially over, it’s time for the indoor one. For me, that means catching up on a backlog of gardening magazines, checking out books from the library and setting down my thoughts and ideas for the next year.

I’m envious of gardeners who can gather all this information in a cohesive and efficient manner. I have friends with gardening databases who can produce print outs of all the plants put into a particular bed, where they were purchased and the success of each.

Other friends have gardening journals filled with little sketches and notes detailing changes to their gardens through the years.

Me? I have lovely journals that were given as gifts that only have one or two pages filled. I have stacks of magazines with little sticky notes attached, marking particularly interesting articles or suggestions for my own beds. Nearby are half-filled legal pads with lists of plants to try for 2001 and 2002, drawings of where to place the liatris that need to be divided, names of books to request from the library and on and on.

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Last month as we drove to the Wisconsin Dells for our fall vacation, I started a new system for my BBC Gardener’s World magazines. When I found an interesting article, I put a tape flag on top of the page and I wrote the page number of the article and a brief description onto a lined post it note which I put on the front inside page of the magazine. I then wrote down that same information on a legal pad which I will eventually type into the computer.

This way, when I pick up the magazine again, I can just look at the post it note to see what I found interesting in it. We’ll see if this Great Idea works any better than any of the other information gathering systems I’ve come up with.

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But how to combine all these notes, drawings and lists collected through the years? At this point, my only idea is to start some documents in the computer compiling similar data and then put the print outs in a three-ring binder.

Wait, did I mention my collection of three-ring binders? I have binders containing all my old Master Gardening resources, landscape plans of completed projects, receipts, plant tags organized by year and garden area and articles I’ve clipped from newspapers and other sources.

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I’ve got too much information, running through my brain…


Okay, not really.

Every year I try to ripen the last tomatoes of the season indoors. I read accounts of people who tear up the entire tomato plant and hang it upside down in the greenhouse or cold cellar. Or wrap each tomato individually in newspaper to enjoy a tasty homegrown tomato in their BLTs months after everyone else has been purchasing the red cardboard versions in the grocery store.

Maybe it’s my technique. I just picked the last tomatoes which seemed to have a chance of ripening and put them on a plate in a sunny part of the kitchen.

Some of the tomatoes ripened while others have acquired a white fuzzy beard of mold. Others seem to have stalled out and are doing nothing.

But just because the tomato looks red doesn’t mean it tastes good. The one red cherry tomato I popped into my mouth today held but a shadow of the rich flavor that occurs in high summer when it feels like you are eating a little piece of the sun.

So I’m going to toss the entire plate of tomatoes and cancel my experiment in spite of my limited success.

And start dreaming about next season’s tomatoes – rich and juicy and warm from the sun…


After our first real snowfall this week, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

At least Pont liked running in it. And the dogs do have winter coats they wear when walked outside. Whippets have little body fat so winter coats are essential in The Tundra. Here is Pont sporting his:

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And Glynis with hers. Yes, she also sports booties as her feet do not take the snow well.

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And least you think the dogs are wimps, they enjoy running on the frozen lake nearby. One can often see Glynis race the occasional snowmobile. You then see an astonished snowmobiler slow to take a look at what kind of animal can run alongside his sled at 40 mph. Usually looking like a snow shark as the photos below indicate:



Turkey Chili

What to do with all that left-over turkey? This year I’m going to adapt my favorite chili recipe by substituting turkey for part of the meat. Give it a try!

Dave’s Chili (from the StarTribune, Nov. 8, 2001) – my version

1 lb bulk hot Italian sausage
½ lb ground beef (or left over turkey)
½ lb ground pork (or left over turkey)
2 jalapenos – one red, one green – seeded and chopped
1-14 ½ oz can dized tomatoes in juice, undrained
1-6 oz can tomato paste
1-3/4 cup water
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 -15oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 tsp salt

Garnishes such as tortilla chips, diced tomatoes, avocados, onion, cilantro and shredded cheese.

Cook meats in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until browned, about 10 minutes; drain fat. Stir in chiles and cook 3 minutes longer.

Stir in tomatoes and liquid, tomato paste, water and spices. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered 15 minutes. Stir in beans and season to taste with salt. Ladle into bowls and serve with garnishes.

What I’m Reading

In the middle of: “Sahara” by Michael Palin, the former Monty Python member. It’s a warm way to get through our recent snowfall.

Listening to: “Blue Shoe” by Anne LaMott

Graham’s current favorite: “Bears” by Dagmar Fertl, Michelle Reddy & Erik D. Stoops

Remaining Garden Chores

Throw the cordyline in the compost bin.

Cut back the last roses and verbena bonarienses.

When the ground finally freezes, throw bags of leaves onto the tender stuff.

Wrap burlap around the dwarf Alberta Spruce and wisteria trees.

Pack the canna, four o’clock and sweet potato tubers in sawdust for the winter and store them someplace in the house that won’t be too hot or too cold.

Today’s Grahamism

"How you make money is just look on the floor."

At the Thanksgiving table, Graham stated, "Mommy, your job is to serve the pie."

When told that Charlie Brown's Christmas special was 40 years old, just like Mommy, Graham asked, "What is this? The ancient movie of God?"

Click to see Graham in action at a indoor playground.

Posted by maasx003 at November 26, 2005 1:05 PM | Books | Family | Gardens | Videocast


I love the Grahamism "what is this, ancient movie of God"---that kid is just a hoot!!!!

Posted by: karen m at December 1, 2005 9:55 AM

I too enjoy the Grahamism's. He cracks me up!
I envy your organization. I soooo want to be but it just never happens.

Posted by: Sandy at December 3, 2005 9:13 PM