Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
The annual garden ritual is running just a bit behind schedule for 2014. Depending on which year I check in the diary I'm one to two weeks behind. A colder and wetter spring has kept me indoors and out of the dirt. Same for the local farmers. They're just getting around to discing last fall's plowed fields. And only a bit of planting activity is going on. Nevertheless, a couple of weekends ago I tackled the big job of prepping the garden palette. Six bales of certified organic peat moss and four hundred pounds of composted cow manure from the Door County Co-Op. I rototilled all of it into both the rock wall garden and the main raised bed garden. With every passing year my clayey peninsula soil continues to improve.
There hasn't been much criticism of the garden during the 2013 growing season. Sure, there have been a few disappointments (which I will cover in the annual report) but on balance everything has been stunningly successful.
I cannot remember a gardening season as terrific as this year's. Plenty of rain has granted me a reprieve from irrigating. The bugs and the critters have been few, The sunshine abundant. And as a consequence the harvest has been stunning. About the only thing that has gone wrong is that my seed-producing pumpkins (the Snack Face Hybrid that was previously so successful) never germinated. Three attempts were unsuccessful. Go figure.
For some folks Labor Day signals the arrival of fall. The camper is cleaned and stowed and the children return to school. For a couple of weeks I've been saying to anybody willing to listen that there is a hint of autumn in the air.
If any of you have been out in the Wisconsin countryside in the past week or so you would have noticed farmers, growers, ranchers and anybody else in the business of agribusiness has been out burning the midnight oil to get their crops planted before the monsoons arrive.
Here it is - we're coming-up on the end of March already and gardening is just around the corner. Last fall I left some of my vegetable remnants in the garden as green manure. Along with the weeds there were cabbage bottoms, broccoli and Brussels sprouts mainly. I figured the garden rubbish would fester over the winter and when spring arrived I would simply plow it under with the rototiller.
Well at least possibly the world's best roasted pumpkin seeds.
The Belgian American Walloons who settled around southern Door, northern Brown and Kewaunee Counties in the 1850s, brought with them a rite of Fall – the kirmess - or harvest festival.
I have a suspicion that the Tosa Food Pantry is going to be the beneficiary of some surplus garden produce this week. It has been a busy harvest so far.
A half-dozen posts ago one of my readers suggested that I get back to breast feeding my tomato plants. The reader also inferred that I was manifesting symptoms of dementia.
This past weekend a bunch of us got together for an organized bike ride. Have I told you lately how well that new hip is working-out? Getting back in the saddle was - in a manner of speaking - just like remembering how to ride a bike.
A couple-plus weeks ago I planted peas, spinach, beets and radishes. After basking in the glow of any number of 60-70 degree days I was gloriously optimistic about 2012 vegetable gardening.
Finally got hammered with a hard frost the other evening. The tomatoes are kaput.
I was reading the news over at The Mothership yesterday and noticed that there was coverage of the 5th Annual Tomato Romp, Tomato Fight and Best Bloody Mary competition on Saturday.
Last summer I went on a tour of a lighthouse and happened upon an itemization of the perks that the US Congress alloted keepers employed by the Light House Service back in the 1800's. Aside from lodging there was an annual salary of $600. There were also consumable provisions including sacks of potatoes and onions. A barrel of salted pork, sacks of flour, dried beans, sugar and salt. Coffee, tea - and of all things - barrels of vinegar.
Jill says that this year's garden has been the most productive ever. Judging from the volume of produce that has all of a sudden materialized I am inclined to believe her.
Sometimes I think my vegetables have a sense of humor. Labor Day weekend I plan to excavate my spuds and onions and there is no guessing what might be lurking underground to tickle my funny bone.
A couple of weekends ago the green beans started coming on-line. Ohhhhh baby. Fresh grilled green beans. I took a big canvas tote filled with fleshly-picked beans to the day job last Monday along with some paper lunch bags. Sent an email around about that tote sitting in the kitchen. Those beans were gone by 10 AM. Who doesn't like fresh green beans. Especially Blue Lake 274.
I spent weeks hardening-off my precious tomato plants. Taking them from the garage in the morning and leaving them to fend for themselves in the wind and the sunshine of favorable spring days. Late in the day they were returned to their lair in the garage. When I was not around Jill did his for me.
This has singularly been the latest spring arrival in recent memory. The consequence of this is that weather conditions for turkey hunting have been appalling. Snow, rain and high winds. Nevertheless, I shot a gobbler and Lawyer and Sid each killed a jake. Only Braumeister got skunked.
Less than three weeks ago there was four inches of snow on the ground and it had been raining incessantly. The month of April posted record amounts of precipitation on the the Door Peninsula.
When the Belgian immigrants came to this country one of the traditions they brought with them was the Kermis.
With every year changes are made in the garden. This is why we keep a detailed journal of where and when everything was planted. The weather conditions. The results - both successes and failures. Along with what might have altered the results along the way. Brilliant ideas are recorded while still fresh.
My nemesis - Phil the groundhog - has returned and has taken-up residence in my septic mound up-north.
I know that many of you are great fans of the Wauwatosa Farmers Market. My pal Karen, who also blogs on this page, has extolled its praises.
The garden is growing like mad. Very jungle-like. We've been blessed with more than twice the normal amount of rainfall for the month of June. There has been no need to water so the initial plans for a drip irrigation system have been shelved.
Lawyer has been up here turkey hunting since last Wednesday afternoon. One of a succession of hunters turning their hand at gracing their Thanksgiving table with a wild bird.
Last month I was at a birthday celebration that happened to include a generous cross section of my vast extended family.
It's just about time to begin prepping the garden for spring planting. Remarkably - a bunch of vegetables have survived the winter and as the frost has left the ground they have emerged and made their presence known.
It is almost February and I am down to my last garden cabbage. A nice firm one. What can you do with one red cabbage?
I'm up here on the farm - just me and Girlfriend - hanging-out and doing some bird hunting in the morning and me doing some deer hunting in the afternoon. Based-upon the reports from home it sounds like the inaugural reincarnation of the Tosa Farmer's Market was a resounding success.
Earlier this year I talked a little smack about gardening.
Did you know that the People's Republic of China is the world's largest producer of cabbage?
Did you know that your garden variety watermelon is loaded with important antioxidants?
If you're like me and you think about potatoes when you have too much time on your hands you'd probably arrive at the same conclusion.
Everything seems to have fallen into place and on-schedule. Mind you this garden is about 150 miles north of Tosa so the growing season starts a tad later and ends a bit sooner.
One of the cool things about having a garden is having a steady supply of fresh produce.
I'm feeling better about the garden with every passing day. After that close brush with the cucumber beetles things seem to have settled into a routine with everything putting down roots and growing.
This morning my wife said to me - You know honey, your corn is looking pretty cute lately.
There has been an inch-plus of perfectly-timed rain in the past week.
Unlike some of you I don't mind all of the snow and cold. I like being outside in winter. I remember going winter camping for the first time with my wife. We were sitting around the campfire at night and a duck flew-in and landed next to us. I'm not making this up. There we sat; Jill, me and the mallard. But that's an altogether different story.
It is November and believe it or not one of the last crops harvested was a late season planting of radishes.
One of my fondest memories from childhood is of the big family garden behind our garage.
The garden has recovered nicely and fresh veggies are rolling in the door and finding their way to the table and freezer.
The replacement tomato plants added following the post-Memorial Day frosts are doing well. We have blossoms and some green tomatoes on the larger plants that survived.
Garden was planted on May 23-24 and stuff is growing. Well, sort-of. Until last Sunday.