Monday, January 30, 2017

Beer Growlers and Mush Mugs

That title got your attention didn't it?  No telling what I will get into during the long winter months between gardens. What the hey is a Beer Growler or a Mush Mug?  Well, one or the other of them might look like this:

Beer Growlers are containers used to transport your daily helping of beer home from the draft at the local tavern.  It makes sense really, that they should have two handles, not only to make the hand-off go smoothly, but you can clutch your beer growler in two hands so you don't spill as you totter home.  Mush Mugs are large mugs sometimes used to warm food (porridge comes to mind), but they don't sound like quite as much fun as a Beer Growler.

I bought this little collection mostly for the three nesting bowls with lids.  It is amazing really, after all these years, that all six pieces were still together.  Especially after 80-ish years.  They are very very well used.  Just think of how many times these have been washed (or as Tim observed after seeing their condition "not washed") in their lifetime.  Just imagine the recipes that were made.  These did not belong to anyone who had the money to replace their bowls every few years.  These look like they stuck it out for a lifetime.  I tried every cleaning method I know on them, Citric Acid, Iron-Out, Bar Keeper's Friend, and while I did get all of the rust and sticky gunk off of them, nothing is going to bring them back to a youthful luster.  This is as good as it gets.

So I bought the collection because of the bowls, but when I unwrapped the package, I instantly fell in love with the Growler.  If that is indeed what it is.  My reference books identify them as "either Biscuit Tin or Beer Growler" and I cannot find an example in any of my original sales pages of either item.  This one came without a lid, but I did have one unmatched lid floating about which had come on something it didn't even remotely fit.  However, it settled perfectly into the rim of the growler as if it were home again.

Now for those of you who have never heard of a beer growler, here is a little history and explanation on them.  This one really looks like just a really big mug, if you are into two fisted beer drinking in that volume, and I have seen very large straight sided mugs with single handles referred to as Mush Mugs, but I have absolutely no use for a Mush Mug.  So instead of thinking it could be a biscuit tin, or a very large mug, this will forever be known as The Growler.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Out of Hand

In my experience, January is the time when gardens are most likely to get out of hand.  Not June when the weeds grow faster than the vegetables or August when everything needs to be watered at once.  It's January.  Which is why it is best to make your future gardening plans in August when you have months of gardening under your belt and you might just be a bit more realistic about watering and pests and the size of the harvest.

So I make my detailed plan and if I want to alter it I save the "realistic" plan first so I can go back to it for a reality check.

All through the year I pin things I want or need so I don't forget that I need more earth staples and wire cloches and order more cucumber grids instead.  It also gives me a good reference to go back to files of previous years to see which varieties worked and where I got them.

Strawberry Blonde Marigold
Seed catalogs are flooding in.  I keep a stack by my bed to grow dreams on.  I begin marking varieties I've never heard of in catalogs I've never ordered from.  It takes time to consolidate into reasonable orders so you aren't ordering just one or two things from each supplier.  That's not postally efficient.

 You have to work the system.  For instance, Burpee is having a free shipping on $20 sale, so I ordered $20 of peas and beans knowing that when my order arrives it will have a coupon to use on a $50 order and then I and then I can get my pepper seeds and frivolous things like sunflowers.  And I try not to order Strawberry Blonde Marigolds just to see if they really look like that.  I don't need peach shades of marigolds.  I need yellow and orange ones... but the strawberry ones look so unique....

As the bitter winter wind blows outside my window and my garden beds sleep under mounds of soft snow, I flip through photos of warm, barefoot summer days with lush foliage and tidy rows and I lose all sense of perspective.

I think fondly of warm Saturday mornings with the sun on the rise and the dew fresh and clean on perfect leaves and I lose all control.

I remember picking bushels of fresh lettuce and baskets of peas and I dream of acres of plants and a harvest that will feed a small army.

I remember fondly the sweltering heat of summer and pickle day.

Pickle Day 2011
And these are the things that lead to over planning.  Before I know it I'm making lists of things like winter squash and fennel and artichokes.  None of which I eat or have room for.  I get wild ideas about growing enough pumpkins to line the length of the driveway or Indian corn or pop corn.  I begin to think it would be wise to have a medicinal herb garden.

The Jungle Garden 2008
Yes this is how gardens get out of hand.  It's January that does it.  It's probably best just to forget about gardening until March and then surprise yourself with the orderly lists you made last August.  And stay out of the seed catalogs!