It is all rather mysterious at this point, since this is a totally new experience for me. I certainly know where I want it to go content-wise.....it is all about finding the space (head space, not physical....my office seems quite suitable), the discipline (now that's a challenge for me!), and the right time (aligned with when I feel most creative and mentally energetic) to work on it. Then there is consistency day-to-day, chapter to chapter...but that's the purpose of a good editor, I suspect.
I've set myself a words-per-day target (2000) and have already blown by it for the few days I've been immersed. The speed of my typing (and the relative completeness of the story in my head) could mean a decent first draft well before the end of the year. Sara is coming by for dinner tonight; since she already has a book under belt and another on the way, we can have a good discussion about my early progress (and initial shortcomings...I am going to need a thick skin for this process, I think).
Once I get two chapters in good enough shape, I will complete the proposal and send it off to the publisher - then see what happens next. Sara will be an important adviser to me in the quality check for the proposal. As I said, it is all a bit of a mystery to me, but each day, the more I write, the more enjoyable it becomes. It is also an appropriate activity to mark the Dwarf Tomato Project milestone of having our first nine new varieties in seed catalogs this year.
And so finally - after thinking/talking about it for years, after the subtle (and not so subtle) hints and comments and encouragements from Sue (rapidly increasing each year), it is time, and it is in progress. And it feels pretty good!
I am really excited about the possibility of telling the story of the Dwarf Tomato Project, focusing on all of the work leading to release of the first nine varieties to seed companies. At this point I am working on getting a few chapters written well enough to submit to at least one publisher....the challenging part will be taking a pretty complicated project and translating it into a good read with wide appeal. Wish me luck!
Now that all tomato plants are gone, there was room in the driveway to rearrange things. All of the ornamental hot pepper project plants are now in a modified layout that will help me to assess the different plants and decide what to progress next year. I also tied and pruned the sweet pepper and eggplant plants and fertilized them heavily, hoping for continued harvest until frost. Surprisingly, everything out there is looking pretty good!
I am also living and dying with the Red Sox as they appear to be doing their best to NOT make the playoffs....will it be an epic choke? We will soon see....only a handful of games remain for the season! Fortunately, the New England Patriots are off to a great start.....
It's easy when it's warm out, there are endless garden tasks - watering, observing, picking. This is a transition point - the Saturday morning wear is warmer (at least temporarily), the mornings move a bit slower - even after the coffee. The outdoor tasks start mixing more heavily with indoor tasks.
There's been an influx of seeds from the Dwarf project from some of our volunteers - those all need to be recorded in my seed log and properly stored (so I can find them again when needed).....the book proposal remains in progress....planning for next year - you've heard it all before, which means it is not as easy to get motivated to move through it. I am a much better starter than finisher - and when activities move inside, that aspect becomes more apparent!
And so I will move through some of these tasks - I am a dabbler, so will relocate to my office, put on some good music, and do a bit of this and a bit of that. The Greek Festival at the Fairgrounds looks interesting - that will likely be our lunch destination. When the rain ends and it warms a bit (tomorrow and beyond), I will return to tossing pots of dirt and dead plants, final pickings of sweet peppers and eggplant, cultivation of the new rows of lettuces and beets and Brussels Sprouts. This chill will be short lived, but I can't use that as an excuse to not finish the indoor garden tasks that are harder to find motivation for....
But somehow, every year, it all gets done! A little pressure on the deadlines is a good thing - and that's what's missing now. So I will continue to dabble....
We've never paired a cat (well, Kip is about a year old) with a Kitten (Sam is just a few months old). It is amazing how much fun they have and how much potential chaos they create. They are zooming all over house, tackling, rolling, knocking stuff about (good thing we aren't inclined to be neat freaks!). Out of bounds is when Sam uses one of our house plants as camouflage by climbing into it! Mocha and Buddy, our chocolate labs, observe with concern in their faces.....
So, the fall/winter garden is now planted. The back row of the garden is a long row of lettuce intermingled with arugula. Both went in as transplants, so it actually looks like things are growing (though the heat of yesterday/today/tomorrow means regular watering as the seedlings adjust).
In front of that row, the direct seeded chard, beets and spinach finally started showing signs of life. What amazes me is the vigor of the weeds - I am cultivating the rows weekly, and in between, different sorts of weeds appear seemingly overnight. Some thinning will also be needed eventually.....
Yesterday I said goodbye to all of the Dwarf tomatoes and many of the indeterminate varieties. It is not an enjoyable task - cutting off the top growth (which can be rampant), lugging the vines into the woods, then dumping the heavy pots of dirt into the cart and dumping that into a mulching pile. It is remarkable how the eggplant, sweet and hot peppers continue to thrive, however. Today I will probably cut down another dozen or so indeterminate tomatoes - only the largest potted ones remain, and I can dump only so many of them per day before my lower back informs me to stop!
So the gardening activities will soon move indoors - finishing and submitting my book proposal, planning next year's seedling sales, garden and Dwarf project assignments, refining my seed collection. I am actually looking forward to it - and will be good and ready to start the process of planting seeds not too far into the new year!
For one thing, the lawn grows and grows - so must take care of that tomorrow (I could use some nice grass clipping mulch on the big garden, actually). The tomato plants look just awful - will start taking care of that tomorrow by making them go away! I did a pretty major picking of the small fruited ornamental hot peppers - all the red ones I could find - and they are drying in my dehydrator, some day to become hot pepper flakes.
I am really pleased with how quickly the Brussels Sprouts are growing, and the arugula that I popped in prior to our weekend seems happy enough. No sign of germination on the direct seeded chard, beets or spinach yet. The transplanted lettuce in pots is about ready to join the arugula in the garden - that's another task for tomorrow. And that will just about complete our fall garden - except to pull out the dead or dying squash and cuke vines.
Even though my blog entries may slow down in number, I hope to catch everyone up on the Dwarf project some time soon.
Read about it here
. It was such a wonderful time.....
Already dreaming about next year's garden!
So, all refreshed and back from a great trip to the SSE in Iowa, those pesty fall garden jobs await. In between tropical type downpours I hope to continue to pull dead/pathetic looking tomato plants, pick seed saving-worthy eggplant and hot peppers, and work on the fall garden of greens, beets and Brussels Sprouts. As to the latter, I am pleased with how vigorously my recently planted seedlings are doing. Not quite so enthusiastic about the health of my beet, chard and spinach transplants, though the arugula and lettuce look good. I also need to see if the row of Fowler bush bean is ready for seed harvest.
Aside from that.....lots of indoor work to be done, including finishing my first book proposal and collaborating with SSE on a few ideas; wrapping up the 2011 NH Dwarf project, sending out seeds to some folks, and preparing for 2012 seedling sales and the 2012 NH Dwarf project phase (really! already!).
A few pet pictures....Sam and Kip, already best friends (sometimes)....and a closer look at each - Kip is the hairy monster, and Sam is the one who looks like grey and white trouble!
Just like after the SSE Campout a month or so ago, there will be a letdown from this latest opportunity to visit Heritage Farm and contribute to an event. Yesterday was the SSE Tomato Festival, and it was quite the incredible time - kind of like Tomatopalooza quadrupled (at least!) - in attendance and events, if not in tomato varieties to taste (little ol' we in Raleigh typically have triple the taste-able tomato varieties, surprisingly!).
My contributions to the event were two 30 minute presentations that I called "Heirloom Tomatoes 101" - preparing people for a tomato tasting, covering some of the more interesting stories behind a few of the varieties to be tasted, and taking as many questions as the attendees could come up with. I also helped Shannon (the event organizer) set up for the tasting - which gave me an opportunity to check out the tomatoes un-cut. Just as at Tomatopalooza, a few varieties didn't quite look like they were supposed to (and I used my typical "not" terminology!). That is grist for future discussions with the SSE Seed folks.
The weather was pretty stormy throughout my visit here to Decorah - I arrived just after a big Thunderstorm on Friday afternoon, and rain continued on and off.....until the event began at noon on Saturday. Then the clouds parted, the sun came out and this all contributed to what we guessed to be around 800 or so people attending from locations that were beyond expectations - people will get into a car and drive a long way to taste heirloom tomatoes! The tasting was held in the loft of the barn, while a band played wonderful old timey music. A Salsa competition was also available to sample nearby, with numerous inventive entries. I brought 60 packets of seed to share - Green Giant, Cherokee Chocolate, and Lucky Cross - and they were gone in no time!
Heritage Farm is a very special place, and I feel fortunate indeed to have experienced this latest opportunity for a visit and contribution to their great cause. Some pictures that I snapped between the raindrops and throughout the event can be found below.