Red Shiso, Spinach, and Spam


No, this is not a shot from “The Crypt Keepers.” This is the Red Shiso cut, bundled, and hanging to dry. Looking nice and PURPLE too! The remaining empty loops of twine will get used as I bring in the rest of the harvest.

I still have probably about a quarter to a third of the crop to cut and hang. The building will be completely packed with Red Shiso by the time I finish. Sophie Cardew helped me last Thursday to cut and hang bundles. I hope to snag her for a couple of hours today. She is here on Thursdays, restocking the shipping stations and cheerfully doing a myriad number of weekly jobs.

Here is one of the sections of Red Shiso still standing. The white stuff around the feet of this Shiso is the protective cloth that can be draped on the Red Shiso if we get another frost before I get the rest cut.

Last week Sophie and I cut the southern part of the three Red Shiso rings. Over the weekend I kept cutting. Two nights ago we had another frost. That afternoon, I knew I wasn’t going to get everything cut before this frost hit, so I cut the rings of Red Shiso at the north of the garden and left Shiso in the east and west, hoping that the frost would roll down through this north south corridor and not bother the Red Shiso on either side. This worked!

Frost is a funny thing. In this neighborhood, I will get a frost when others don’t. Cold air is heavier than warm air so frosts roll downhill. We are up at about a thousand feet and we generally have warmer temperatures and an earlier spring than other places in the neighborhood, so you’d expect us to be more protected from frosts than we are. Instead, we get hit by these early frosts ahead of everyone else, even those down below us.

After almost twenty years here, I accept this anomaly with slightly more grace. The main garden where the Red Shiso grew this year is one of those places where the frost settles first. The cold air seems to roll down from Morgan Hill to the north of us and bounce through the gardens to this place and that on its way south towards the bottom of the hayfield. I am not sure I outsmarted the frost this time so much as went with the Flow of it!

Speaking of going with the Flow, Emily’s school has gone paper free. Her first set of senior year mid terms are posted on line. I have just receive a many page email explaining how to access her grades and teacher comments. I now need to go with this paper free flow.

I wonder if I will ever be done with my ambivalence about the technologies of our world. Dragged kicking and screaming to email and the internet a decade ago, I now passionately love my email friends and my blog world. I turn to Google with all my questions. Why even this morning I looked for a recipe I wanted on some recipe site and found it in a nano-second. And then there’s my habit too.

But I don’t want to have to login with a password to read Emily’s teacher’s comments. I don’t want to! Her’s is a small, friendly school and this feels so impersonal. I want a note from the teacher not a login experience!

Maybe my response isn’t just a lingering love for the envelope and paper. Maybe it’s resistance to being washed through an impersonal mechanism of logins and passwords to get to the information I seek. I think it might feel different if I got an email directly from each teacher. It’s funny how there are things that are personal about online life and there are things that just aren’t. Do others feel as strongly about these nuisances of connection?

On the subject of connection, I am always trying to think of ways to get more people connected to our local farmer’s market. As Deb wraps up another season running this market, I suggested an advertising campaign for next year along the lines of “Meet the Farmer who Grew your Spinach.” With the recent spinach problem, there wasn’t a farmer, but a corporation growing the spinach. But the problem was also about the SIZE of the farm.

The farmer’s market is a wonderful thing, not just because we meet the farmers, but because the smaller scale of each farm operations means that the farmers can care deeply about everything they grow. There literally is more love in their produce because of this small scale. And in my experience, more love actually translates into healthier spinach.

As I look at media photos of the spinach fields of California, it feels so off to me. When a corporation grows such vast quantities of one crop in one place, this can so easily create a cycle of every spinach loving pest in creation gathering in those fields, to be met by every pesticide in creation, to be met with every pesticide resistant bug, to be met with a new round of toxic chemicals. And the poor people working in those fields! How they must suffer from this poisonous atmosphere. And how difficult it must be to bring any love to such toxic and monotonous work. We all need a life more permaculture than monoculture, more familiar faces, less faceless bureaucracy.

Small is better. This is how I feel about Green Hope Farm. I don’t want to be the Proctor & Gamble of Flower Essences. I happily make decisions to keep us a place where we have personal relationships with you and with every Flower. Besides my own predilection to stay small, the nature of Flower Essences is that they don’t lend themselves to being Proctor and Gamble-ized. There has to be much love in the process of making and sharing the Essences or they won’t have the high vibrations needed to make them useful, informative Flower Essences.

As part of my continuing efforts to stay small and personal, I promise not to create a login system for talking with me on email or the blog. I also promise to get more help from Ben to deal with my technical difficulties with processing blog comments. They remain unposted in an enormous pool of thousands of spam entries. I keep asking Ben how to wade through this variation of spam. I have some good systems for sorting our email now. I CAN do this with the blog. But I keep forgetting what he says. It’s like logging on for Emily’s grades, I don’t want to process more viagra ads in order to manage this blog. I don’t want to do it! But I do want to support Emily’s senior year process, so I am going to login. And I do want to harvest the lovely comments that I know are there. I get so many helpful, loving, and wise ones on email. I know they await me under the blog spam.

I WILL forge ahead in this new world of technology we all inhabit and I thank you for your patience with me and the blog spam. Wish me luck! And Luck to you too as you face the spam in your twenty first century lives!

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