This was unfortunate

22 08 2008

Just as my tomatoes were really starting to turn red,  we had a major downpour.  Despite watering the tomatoes regularly, the difference in the water levels in the soil was so drastic that these guys just couldn’t handle it and split apart.   That was really too bad.

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DNA is amazing.

22 08 2008

I am becoming more and more enthralled by the supernatural abilities of plants. This was the bean trellis on August 1st:

This is it today, a mere three weeks later: (you have to forgive my photo shooting skills.  The screen on my camera has gone blank, giving “point and shoot” a whole new meaning.

I am dumbfounded at how fast they have grown and how many beans I have pulled off of them.   Considering I was wondering whether they were going to make it AT ALL, they have proved me wrong ten times over.  These produce a thin haricot vert, which are thinner than many green beans.  I’d pay about $8/lb at the farmers market for these.  Instead, for the price of the trellis, which is reusable, I pull the off by the handful for free.

Meanwhile, someone has to explain the magic of cabbage to me.   They start out like this

and SOMEHOW end up looking like this!

Now, there really weren’t that many leaves that folded under, so I have to wonder HOW the cabbage actually grows?  Do the leaves that fold under keep expanding despite the fact they are curled up under other leaves?  I ask because, a week ago, the cabbage felt like it wasn’t going to be firm at all, and I was really wondering if I had wasted a lot of space.  Now, they are firm to the touch, and I sort of regret pulling out two that didn’t seem to be doing so well.  My guess is that they would have grown much more than I thought they would have.  I’m just amazed they have turned into actual heads of cabbage!

Meanwhile the various sets of chives that I was pretty sure I was going to kill while propagating them have all put on inches of new growth during the last couple of rainy days.   Despite the fact the soil does not yet have any redeeming value, I’ve decided that chives are pretty much indestructible.

The yard IS starting to get healthier, though.   My lavender is starting to bloom, and it is is attracting insects I have never seen before in the yard.  There was a very pretty butterfly or moth on them earlier, which was a welcome sight.





Celebration

19 08 2008

As I plucked these from the vine, I couldn’t help but think that, in a world in which there weren’t cardboard-tasting tomatoes available in the grocery store, this would be widespread cause for celebration.  Provided the weather keeps it up and The Evil Blight doesn’t show itself, there are literally hundreds more to come.   The darker ones are particularly tasty.  The plant is a  Chocolate  Cherry tomato from Territorial Seed Co.  I could have probably let them ripen a bit more, but the temptation was just beyond me.





In the land of Cthulhu, I win!

13 08 2008

In the overhaul of the garden mentioned below, I pulled out my four foot row of carrots. This was an experimental row. I wanted to at least try my hand at it to see if I wanted to give it a bigger go next year. I was pleased that I got a few carrots that looked like carrots. I win!

I also got a bunch of carrots that looked like this:

If I was a character in an H.P. Lovecraft novel, these would be the type of carrots I would grow.

I am sure there is a lesson to be learned here, but I don’t know what it is. I sifted my soil very carefully to try and make it so the carrots could grow straight. Obviously some of them DID. Why the rest turned into Root Vegetables From Beyond Time and Space is beyond me. Perhaps my soil is too heavy or got too compacted as I watered, such that the carrots couldn’t continue to grow downward?

I can turn this into some nice carrot sticks, but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. It was fun, but I’m not sure I’ll do it again next year. My goal is consistency, something I failed to achieve here. This was the bunch from the four feet. Not bad considering i had already pulled several out. At a minimum, I created food. Weird food, but food nonetheless.





Haircut

13 08 2008

Today, when I started weeding the garden, my compulsion to make everything orderly overcame my compassion for both the plants that were struggling and for those trying to take over everything. I’m not usually a compulsively tidy person, so this is a new experience. Part of me felt terrible for the overhaul, but it is such a small space that I can’t let it get out of control and expect anything to really thrive.

Note to self for next year: Calendula, while it is pretty and attracts beneficial bugs, takes up too much room for a small garden plot. I will definitely plant flowers again, but I will be looking for something much smaller. It was nice while it lasted. In short, I ripped it all out. I also ripped out two cabbages that had been too damaged by bugs to be of any decent culinary quality. There are still two left that are looking promising.

Then the herbs got a major haircut. The marjoram is slowly but steadily trying to turn into a bush. I cut all the stems back to about a foot. Hopefully it will get bushier rather than taller. Then, I trimmed the top inch or so off of the entire thyme plant to remove the dead blossoms and spur some new growth before fall arrives.

Then, I attempted to propagate the chives: another Total Novice Activity. The chives have been out of control. I don’t know how long they have been part of my plot; they were there when I arrived. As the year has progressed, the chives have looked more and more overcrowded, to the point that they seemed to be dying. I think this was confirmed when I dug them out and found a massive ball of nothing but roots. I cut off everything but four inches, dug them up, divided them, and threw them in a bucket of water. I ended up with six bunches that looked like this:

This is when my Grow or Die philosophy kicks in. I wasn’t sure whether I should make these into even smaller bunches, but I replanted the six bunches. I planted one back in the garden. I planted four around my little front yard in hopes of filling out the herb garden and one in a pot on my porch. The spearmint was dying for no apparent reason, so the chives get a chance. It’s August. It’s about to get hot. The soil in the front yard isn’t exactly teeming with organic material yet. I gave them some organic fertilizer and I will water them, but they are on their own. I really don’t need even MORE chives. I can’t eat them fast enough as is. But, if they make it, they’ll deserve their spots in the yard.





The Dirt Sack: Recall

11 08 2008

That’s right.  The Dirt Sack has been recalled due to the fact one leg is apparently prone to breaking, causing the entire stand to fall over.   The company that makes the stand will refund my purchase directly, despite the fact I bought it from a 3rd party.

I will be collecting my refund.  I am waiting to see if my tomatoes will recover from the inadvertent drought before I tear it down.  The whole thing makes me sad from start to finish.   So, all you novice gardeners out there, remember the lesson of The Dirt Sack: while a new gardening idea may seem like a Very Good Idea at the time, save your money until the item has a track record.





Bad Decisions = Bad Days

10 08 2008

Being a novice is a double-edged sword.  On one hand, everything is new and exciting.  On the other hand, your best judgment is really your best guess, and sometimes it is downright wrong.

I made the mistake of leaving the garden to fend for itself for three days.

We have had a couple of very mild days here, and it rained quite a bit yesterday.  I thought that was going to be enough water for the tomatoes in The Dirt Sack.  I was wrong.  Despite constant rain yesterday, the tomatoes were completely wilted today.  They were too depressing to photograph.  I’ll be sick if they don’t spring back to life.  Everything else had done just fine without needing more water.  In fact, everything else is thriving to the point of being downright out of control.

The calendula  and the tomatoes on the ground seem to have taken over the garden.  I have to trim them all back in order to give some herbs room to grow.  I had spaced the both the calendula and the tomatoes based on the growers’ recommendations, but they seem to have turned into mutants determined to smother all other life.   Meanwhile, something is eating the leaves of two out of my three cabbage plants.  While the basil is coming back from last weeks’ trim, it looks depressed.

Maybe I’m just depressed about the sudden turn of events. I’m to the point that anything that isn’t behaving itself within about the next week and a half is going to get pulled out and replaced with fall spinach.