Friday, February 25, 2011

Information Society—What’s On Your Mind?

"I want to know what you're thinking" is the riff we all remember from the song—that and the Leonard Nemoy sample.

This posting isn't about that 80's band at all. It's about the society we live in. We live in the information society.

I was just told by a friend, that some people I respect have recently made comments about bloggers, those on twitter, and people on facebook. It was directed toward the garden community, or I should say the garden social network community.

The gist of the comments was about gardeners who blog are misinformed and misinformants. The implication was that those blogging are putting personal experience out as fact that is really opinion. These tribal elders expressed knowledge shared on social networking sites was unreliable at best and just a din of words. Theses elders went on to say that those blogging about gardening should be citing at least three credible sources for each nuggets of information they impart. All this to put something out into the interverse that is more of an opinion than a cited piece of published work?

I am a gardener. Let me restate that: I have a strong passion in horticulture and enjoy growing everything that I can get my hands on. I have a passion. Or is it I have the passion?

I love to exchange information. I love art, music, seed planting, propagation, selling plants, Victorian homes, cocktails, cooking, growing food, collecting, movies, and good times with friends. Oh, I also forgot I hope for world peace and enjoy riding rollercoasters—just kidding on the last two. I love to exchanging information with other people.

Almost all of us are passionate about one thing or another. If we are on twitter we tweet. On facebook we post. We are looking for those who share our ideas and opinions. We join groups and look for those of like mind. We share, we pontificate, we let others know that we killed that frickin' plant 3 times and yes, oh lord yes, we are going to buy yet another plant to kill!

Back to the center ring of my circus.

I do not see these tribal elders as sitting high upon mount Hortensis, listening to tracks from the latest performance of Chorus of the Goddess Flora and Deadheading Society. I do not see them as noted scholars that dole out dew drops of wisdom from their sanctuaried towers. These demigods are not allowing the seed of sharing to take hold and root deep within the rich loam, that is not their style.

These misguided and misinformed scholars are people who have not thoroughly explored social networking. Yes, they are on facebook. One of them does not know how to add a profile picture. The group as a whole does not post much, if at all.

Let's call this group the old guard. They have rather outdated concepts. Maybe they believe that garden information only comes from books, gleaned from academia, or belonging to an organization? Maybe you have to read about it in that why Horticulture magazine is waning? Is that why publishers aren't making deals with noted professionals within the garden community? I hear a few bloggers have some book deals in the making at reputable publishing houses.

What I can't believe is that gardeners attending the lecture actually sat there in the audience and let the tribal elders disparage what is the new movement for the flow of information? My friend commented the talk would have been better with a glass of wine. Does that tell you something? The panel of speakers should have had more than just a glass of wine. Maybe they would have relaxed and sounded less threatened by a world they know not.

I am not going to name names. What I am going to say is that the people on the panel made themselves look outdated. They appeared to have a narrow and limited view of the garden world, and the people who make up this global garden community.

I feel more liberated being part of a social network. I am not judged because I am not wearing the correct outfit or using the $100 pair of garden pruners. I do not feel excluded. Most of us don't.

I commented to my friend who enlightened me about this event. "This is truly amazing, I have probably passed you a few times as you have worked at this nursery or that. I am a type of shopper that likes to left alone and I will ask if I need help. But because of facebook, and learning more what is going on in your mind, what you groove on by what you post in word or picture." I have learned volumes about my friend. I have gone plant shopping with her, I cheer her on. We have discovered we share opinions on things. Something I would have never discovered if not for social networking.

Let me break this down.

Twitter to me is like a stream of consciousness, 17 layers of conversation with links to blog posting, articles, ideas, pictures and more.

Facebook is a tad slower, but you can say more. It isn't static like my website, just slower. There is improvement with groups now. I am connecting with micro communities and special interest groups.

Both social networks are multilayered and have strong undercurrents. Both are global.

I feel great that I am there to say hello to someone in England one second, a friend in the Eastern United States the next and read a posting by another person in Australia, France, or Japan. Could you do this 5 years ago? 10 years ago?

I have a strong feeling that the people on the panel will not read my blog. They don't really blog. They will not see this as I post a link onto twitter waiting for individuals such as @Mr.BrownThumb, @DirtandMartinis, @Arcadia1, @oregonclematis, @GreenSoil, @BG_garden to respond or retweet the link.

The tribal elders need to change with times. Gardeners are going forward into the bloggisphere. This is not about academia but about conversation. It's about swapping stories over the virtual fencepost.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tomatoes—Fried, Green, or Otherwise

I have to admit I am having trouble picking tomatoes. No, not the fruit, but the seed. Which tomatoes shall I grow? I am not only growing for myself, but for other people to buy tomato starts.

I have been researching flavor, how many days till fruit bearing, acidity vs. non-acidic. Heirlooms vs. contemporary. Its just so mind boggling and the next thing I know I am wanting to order forty or more varieties of the summer flavor favorites. I lied, I just checked my shopping cart at one source and I have 62 varieties in my shopping cart. OMG! I need to choose wisely. I need to get all the lists down to 40 or less.

So I am breaking it down to this. I need to order at least 3 varieties that most people will grow. I need to order the seed in bulk. Beefsteak, Brandywine, Roma. People want fresh eating tomatoes, but they want something for sandwiches and salads. Folks also want a tomato they can sauce.

Canning tomatoes are another story—I have a few of those too. I am going to use Jersey Giant myself.

The varieties are endless, and sources are varied. I am trying to find more organically grown seeds than just commercial seeds.

Heirlooms are fashionable, but I don't think they are trend. I think because of the foodie society we are becoming, or at least those reading this posting are becoming, that we look at food as artistic, something to savor, and something we enjoy. I think with all the GMO information going around a lot more people are going to be trying their darnedest to save heirlooms or save their heirloom seeds. Its about quality of life sometimes, something corporate America understands little about.
I know during the summer one thing I truly enjoy is bruschetta. I use several types of tomatoes, I like colorful. I always try to have more than enough basil in the garden and am a fan of using white vinegar. I don't like to darken the color of the tomatoes. I could eat this for dinner almost every night during the summer—it's something I get drunk on. With a nice glass of wine and a few friends it can make quite a spontaneous dinner party. Ananas Noir, Gold Medal, Pink Acordian, Black Krim and Ingegnoli Gigante Liscio will be wonderful additions to bruschetta making. Ready for summer flavor now!

Salads I am thinking small tomatoes, ox hearts, cherries, small plums. Placero, Red Fig, Gold Pear, Plum Lemon and Black Cherry.

Think of the colors and the tastes. That's where I am really going.

Roasting tomatoes or drying them with rosemary, olive oil and a touch of sea salt. Flavor, flavor flavor.

So choice—guess I better stay to topic. I am having choice problems because I having to many choices offered to me. THAT is a good thing.

Some other great  tomato offerings are—Balck From Tula, Amish Paste,Green Sausage, Japanese Trifele Black, Striped Cavern, Ukrainian Purple, Kellogg's Breakfast, Dr. Wyches Yellow, Black Sea Man,Tasty Evergreen, and Great White. Funny how a picture can influence you or reading another persons blog or article.

I guess I have developed my list in this blog, or cut it down to size. It's truly interesting how one comes to a decision. I am needing to start these in the greenhouse this coming month. I would recommend when you transplant your starts to use a manure tea such as
This manure tea is from organic, grass fed beef raised on native grass pastures. This is also an independent cottage industry that is worth supporting.

So in conclusion, I would say choose what you like. Think about how a tomato is going to taste or how you are going to use it. Use your garden space wisely and support farmers markets if you don't have the space to grow what you need.


Acknoledgements— I would like to thank Benda Haas of BGgarden and Annie Haven of Manure Tea for their contributions to this posting. Brenda was kind enough to send me some fantastic pictures and Annie allowed me to use her link as well as sending me the scanned document of her Family's historical seed company. GOSH! Just look at the varieties listed for the 1916 season!