Can Witches Fly When They Have Gout?

I wonder if witches can fly on Halloween if they have gout? Do they get gout from eating all those eyes of newt and spiders and boiled old hens and the water from a hundred year old stump, collected on the dark of the moon? Who knows. What I do know is gardening with gout is a challenge. Several meals in a row that were bad choices (too much beef, seafood, okra, baked potatoes with sour cream) left me in agony for a day and a night. Little did I know gout can occur in the ankle, although rarely, instead of the big toe. A mega dose of prednisone, a day on crutches and a sleepless night even with pain killers, and I'm smarter than just 24 hours ago. Normally I avoid gout by taking 1 baby aspirin a day, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and avoiding food that causes it. Oatmeal, cooked dry beans, gravy, liver and especially mushrooms, all can cause it to flare up with me. All in moderation and I'm fine, forget and I'm a mess like yesterday and today.

The Fat Baby Achocha vines are really producing a bounty of fruit at present. These are from my friend, Rixin in Bhutan, who found the seed for me in the Bhumthang Valley near where he lives. It may not seem magical to some people, but to me it is absolutely mysterious how I can plant seed from someone else's garden from last year, and see exactly the same plant they grew in my own garden. I've been cooking some, in fact I put a few in the Louisiana gumbo I fixed for supper 2 nights ago. They taste a bit like bell peppers only milder. Usually they are stuffed with a pork mixture and baked, with or without tomato sauce.

That next photo is of a completely different variety of Achocha, this one from Peru. Fran & Marie, readers of this blog in Canada sent the photo are growing it and are sending me seed to try for next season. It's considerably longer, thus more volume to stuff and so I'm excited about growing it. (Yes, I know, some people get excited about football games; I get excited about new food plants).

On my morning walk yesterday I found bittersweet growing along the roadside and it reminded me of the bittersweet sellers I ran across at the farmer's market in Hendersonville, NC a couple of weeks ago. Wild bittersweet is less prolific than the Asian variety, but you have to be very careful with the Asian one. It will overtake large timber trees and kill them with it's cover. That one's also invasive. I have 2 in the garden (sold to me as "American native bittersweet," which it is not). American bittersweet does not spread from the roots and is a polite plant producing plenty of berries for decoration but not becoming a pest. I used stump killer on one of the Asian bittersweets in the garden this spring and have one more to try and kill this winter. I'm still following up the sprouts on the first vine and attempting to get rid of it.

Every day without a frost is one more gift to the garden. Tomatoes planted in August have green tomatoes that may ripen if frost holds off a couple more weeks and the cucumbers Adam planted that month are producing nicely now. Still lots of green beans, some malokia, the squirting cucumber is about to produce, and lots and lots of peppers coming on. They're late but I'm drying more than I would have had time for in the summer.

The food dehydrator has been running day and night again. In the top I have the Bhut Jalokias drying, for the seed which I'll sell later. On the shelf below them are the fish peppers and Jamaican yellow peppers, mild and fruity flavored with hot seeds. I'm also drying some okra and a bunch of lamb's quarter (Chenopodium album) seed heads. The seed is excellent in my Seed Crackers as well as in biscuits. They're used much like poppy seeds but I like the flavor better. You instead of spinach as it's a better producer in may recall I grow lamb's quarter some years summer and has less oxalic acid than spinach (so less of that teeth on edge flavor of spinach).

All in all, it's been a good week in the garden, with lots of produce still coming on to harvest. The late fig is producing a few figs every day or two and I enjoy every bite of those. Happy gardening and thanks for visiting!

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