The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Yeah, it’s one of those kind of days. Fifty-fifty. In good news around here, I joined up with a great group called Rogers Park Farms this week. It’s a neighborhood organization that’s just starting up to promote urban agriculture and sustainable food systems. I’m excited about contributing to their good work as much I can. I attended an informational meeting this past Wednesday and am impressed with the vision and drive they’ve got for the projects that they’re trying to establish. I hope that my modest urban gardening and homesteading skills, as well as blogging and social networking abilities, will be of use. If you’re in the Rogers Park area of Chicago, I really urge you to spread the word and get involved.

I’ve also tracked down two farmers that frequent our Glenwood Sunday Market that can provide me with bulk tomatoes for canning this year, so it looks like that’s a go for me. And via another new shiny and new Rogers Park initiative, OhSoWe (a community networking site), I found someone that has almost two dozen quart canning jars that I can have to use. I’m closer to my goal of obtaining at least 52 jars for the tomato project.

And lest we not forget the simplest good thing of all – it’s Friday. Hello weekend.

Onto the bad… I’ve been crazy for pies lately (which is not bad at all) so I’ve been making a ton. I’ve been feeling really, really good about my crust. Until tonight. I decided to make both a pork pie (still trying to perfect that recipe) and some apple hand pies, so I thought I’d “simply” double the crust recipe. Yeah, no. I got something I could cobble together for the pork pie, but it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t elegant and I’m sure it’ll be tough as hell by the time it comes out of the oven. I’m not ready to double the crust recipe yet. Tomorrow I’m going to try to regain my slightly shaken pie confidence by making a single batch crust for apple hand pies. And yes – I know apples are not yet in season. I confess, I have a can of apple pie filling sitting on my counter at this very moment. But I’m pregnant, and I’m just nuts for apple pie right now. I’m taking a few allowances.

And now for the ugly. Our beautiful, delicious, beloved Swiss chard has a spider mite infestation! One plant is just decimated. The second plant is virtually untouched, so I was able to harvest a small amount of leaves for the pork pie tonight. We’re in a bad spot with this plant though. It’s in a communal planter, so there’s huge risk that it could spread to the two thymes, oregano and other chard. We considered just ripping the whole plant out immediately, but really, everything has been exposed already. So we’re going to try to treat it and hope it clears up and becomes healthy again. I’d really hate to lose it. We cut out the worst looking leaves and sprayed it down with soapy water. There seem to be sixteen thousand ways of dealing with spider mites out there, so we chose this one for ease of application, the fact that we have dish soap on hand, and it’s relatively food safe. But if it doesn’t clear up in a few days, we’re going to have to put the chard out of it’s misery and hope the other plants make it through unscathed. I just feel really bad, because I feel like I should’ve noticed it before now. But it’s been kind of a busy week.

So, the pork pie is in the oven, the moon is shining high over the city and I’m in my favorite chair on the deck under lantern light, surrounded by a perimeter of citronella buckets. The first few fireflies of the evening are starting to float about and I’ve got a tall glass of iced tea at hand. For a fifty-fifty day, I guess that isn’t half bad.