Friday, May 29, 2009

YUCK

'Nuf said.

Ok, one more thing. What in the world is this rotten snot rocket looking thing that I found writhing by my okra. What damage could it have caused and do I need to start looking for eggs or something?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Decisions Rendered

Several days ago, I was seriously contemplating ripping out the pole and bush beans in the largest trellised box and starting all over again. From what advice I was receiving, I gathered it was either a slug of sorts sliding off of the leaves or much rather an insect of sorts which was draining the leaves and then communicating some sort of fungus to them. I kept cutting off the infected leaves one at a time, until I felt like there was nothing left. Both the bush beans and especially the pole beans looked bare. I was a hairs breath away from ripping everything out to start again when I left to quell an argument between the boy and girl, or rather watch while they duked it out and then offer advice, and consequently forgot all about the beans.

Yesterday I noticed that from where I cut off the leaves, there seemed to be new growth so I left them. You can honestly tell that the bush beans are recovering nicely and I'm hoping the pole beans won't be far behind. I'm rather relieved that I didn't make the rash decision to rip everything out. The yield may be lower, but it looks like it will be a yield of some sort at least.

I took some more advice and bought some decanters of sorts to make pepper sauce with my peppers that I didn't know what to do with. I couldn't get some of the larger and fatter banana peppers in there so I cut them in pieces and shoved them in. I hope it will still work this way. Sad thing is, I don't see how the man is going to pull those things out to eventually eat them, himself.

I built two more unintended boxes today. Our bed is on stilts of sorts and years ago we had to build a box under the bed to keep the dog from crawling under there when it was time to go outside. Now that Vladimir is no longer with us...there's extra wood to be had. I put together two 3x2 boxes. One can go in front of the first box and will get about an hours more sun. I'm going to put another squash there since the other I have is not doing so well due to the shade. I'm going to level out the space to the right of the side box and put two more tomato plants there.

The sugar baby watermelon is doing its best to do absolutely nothing. I'm thinking that it's going to be a wash. Actually, nothing has seemed to grow well in that little box. However, I can't help being amazed at the number of female cucumbers and zucchini I've got growing. They're outpacing the males entirely. Last summer I never got a female cucumber, so this is amazing and very inspiring. I've got a few more weeks of decent weather before the brutal heat of July sets in. Hopefully things will mature before that.

Odd as well, I have one squash leaf that within an hour between my visits to the garden went from stiff, lovely leaf to fallen down limp leaf. It's the only leaf affected. Something seems to have sucked the life right out of it. I'd like to prune it back, but the stems are hollow and I don't want little critters crawling in there. How do you suggest to prune back squash?

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yellow

Yellow has been the boy's favorite color since he knew what colors were. It's not a slight infatuation; it's an obsession. Again, it's his preoccupation with the color yellow that got us gardening to begin with. He saw yellow pear tomatoes in the hardware store. Never mind that he won't eat tomatoes, nor did he ever eat these particular yellow pear ones to be exact, he was entranced by the color and so we planted them.

What can I say? The boy loves yellow; "Yellow is the sun," he proclaims. "Yellow is a happy color! Why doesn't everyone else like yellow as much as I do?" I don't argue with or blame him for loving yellow.

Usually.

For yellow has now undoubtedly become my garden's favorite color as well because every blasted thing out there is as yellow as the sun now that we've had all this stinkin' rain for over a week. Everything that's not living like the concrete, house and deck has all turned green.

*sigh* Oddly enough, things still seem to be growing, especially the mushrooms, and the slugs and snails are in overdrive.

Here's the corner yard in its entirety, and then a closer look at the squash and peppers.

I have two pots of ichiban eggplants. The pot on the right has two plants in it as it was purchased as a transplant and the second plant hadn't surfaced yet and I never thinned it. It's amazing to me the difference in size of the plants. The size of the eggplants are different as well. I suppose this should be the poster child for plant spacing and root space availability.
Here are the fruits on the smaller plant. Aren't they cute!
This is the monster I pulled off the larger plant today. This one came from the plant with only one in the pot. Again, the size difference says it all.

I was looking for something to put up against the eggplant like a quarter etc. to give you an accurate idea of it's size. All I could come up with was a remote control or Elmo.

Elmo it is.
We put the eggplant in a pasta dish tonight for dinner. It wasn't too shabby.

Here is the side yard with bush cukes and purple beans. Looks like those things are a bit crowded in there, but MAN are they growing fast. What a difference a little sun makes.

Here's something I never, ever saw last year. For all of the cucumbers and hundreds of male flowers I had, I never had one blossoming female. I've got three in this bush batch already and I'm preparing to be a proud momma.
Hot peppers are doing very well. If I only knew what to do with them!
Banana peppers are doing amazingly. I've already taken one off for the man.

There doesn't seem to be much change for the forecast, so for the next week or so we're still in this rain pattern with little sun. It's amazing anything is growing at all.
When I was slug pickin' this morning, I noticed a few insects had taken the opportunity to spread their eggs all over the lava rocks between the beds. There was no way to pick all of them off or remove all of the lava rock, but I took the chance and sprinkled some insecticide on them since they're all on the ground. The eggs were small and white and others were a cream leaning to yellow. All the same size and relatively uniformly placed all over the surfaces. As much as I wonder what they are, I'm not in the gambling mood to let them hatch and see.
The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Being a Kept Woman

By this time next Tuesday, I will have formally transformed myself into a kept woman. The school year will be over and I get to morph into my life as a mother full time. I know why I work. In spite of the hours at work and the multiple hours on evenings and weekends that I have to put in to grading and planning, I am a better mother when I work. So the laundry may not get done and the used sippy cups may stay in the sink for a few hours, but I have more patience with my own children and am truly grateful for the time I get to spend with them. I think I tend to forget how important each minute is during the summers when all I want is a second to myself without someone saying, "Momma!"

Last summer, I seriously considered changing my name. I wondered if them screaming "Susan!" would grate on my nerves as much, but I digress.

All in all, nothing can beat the time with the children, but there still is one greater pleasure the summers afford me. I can go to the bathroom. It's not the ability to "go" and I'm most certainly never going to be using the facilities without one or both children in there with me offering helpful instructions, but I'll be able to enter the restroom when I want. That's right sports fans. Whenever I want to go to the restroom, I can just go. There's no more waiting for bells to ring and knowing you only have 6 minutes to make that mad dash down the never ending hallway all the while worrying if the kids have found that pop quiz yet which you forgot to stash before you shoved and elbowed the kids in the previous class out of the doorway to audition for your sprinting career.

It's the small things in life. Never the less, I know perfectly well when the summer comes to an end, I'll be just as willing to hurdle students in the hallways as long as it means using the facilities by myself with no one sitting on my lap trying to pick my nose.

On to gardening, those beans...all in the back...are looking pitiful. The leaves are shriveling and then falling limp. I honestly don't know what's going on. Someone suggested leaf hoppers, but I've never seen bug-one out there yet. I'm at a loss and trying to guess if I should rip them out and start over, or just ignore it and see if the new growth can withstand whatever is going on. I'm a bit bummed; beans were the one crop I was looking forward to.

The purple beans in the back are flowering! It's amazing the difference in two hours of sunlight. It makes me wonder if the corner back yard will be able to produce anything at all. We'll have to wait and see. The point is further made by the progress of the cucumber bushes in the front and then those in the back. The size difference is absurd.

I picked that first banana pepper yesterday. It was so cute, but I still say that plant smells bad. The Ichiban eggplant is about the length of my hand. Hopefully we'll be munching on that soon enough.

The morning comes early, my friends; but I get to wear jeans and a t-shirt to work and once I get my end of the year check list done, it's rolley chair races down the hallway for me.

Sweet gardening dreams.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Perspective

Where exactly do slugs go during the day? It's not like they pack up the kids, drop them off at school and go to work, but oddly they are always unseen during the day and abundant in the early evening just like fireflies. It's just odd, if you ask me.

I want to thank everyone for the garden's compliments. I'm hopeful, and by the looks of things, I'm doing a heck of a lot better than last year. Many of you know that last year was our first real foray into gardening. We had six pots in the front yard. Everything looked fantastic, but all I got out of it was one zucchini and a hand full of cherry tomatoes. The fall garden did well with its lettuce and broccoli and I was inspired to try again this spring and summer. The pictures and film were curiously misleading. I only photographed the good and never got close enough with the film to show you the bad.

Photography is a wonderous thing; it allows us to highlight what we want and ignore that which we don't. Then again, we can also use it to let out a little of our insecurities at a time in the hopes someone like-minded can help identify a problem without overexposing our ineptitude.

Ok, so I've skipped the hesitant part of our program and jumped straight to utter humiliation, but I'd appreciate as much help as I can get.

Something has been munching this cucumber leaf.

My peppers are riddled with holes, but this leaf and a few like ones on other plants have me dumbfounded. The okra leaf below had some brown patches.
Although it does not bother me, the eggplant shows something has been dilligently gnawing on the stem. It also has leaf miner damage and you can see through that hole in a leaf.

Here are where most of my problems lie. These are my pole beans. The first few are the Fortex:

These are the KWonder

More KWonder
More KW
Can anyone offer any suggestions? I'm most worried about both of the bean varieties in that they might have some sort of virus seems it appears to be spreading.

I suppose beauty in the garden is how you look at it. Today I chose to focus on the amazing growth of that Banana pepper and the eggplant, however these beans kept coming back to my memory and pressed me to find out, if possible, what was going on. I really don't want to loose them all if I don't have t0.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And the Oscar goes to...

anyone else, but me.

Oh my goodness what a boob you feel like when you're trying to film your garden and you fall flat on your tuchus. You'll have to wait until the second film to see that one. At least before it rained we got what was supposed to be two films, one of the back yard and one of the pots in front, but it turned out to be three.

Here in this first film Gibson and I walked around the back corner yard. I've pulled out the carrots and most of the onions, so it's looking a little bare back there. I didn't show the onion and watermelon box since one watermelon transplant died and the other looks pitiful. I have more that I've started from seed, but the slug I chased through the garden last night moved faster than they are growing. The mint is sprawling which is neat, but I really think the okra, toms and beans are going to suffer from only 5 hours or so of sun,but we'll see how it works out. Some of the peppers have been caged, but I still need more. The squash/zucchini is looking nice and you can see the start of flowers if you get close, something I didn't do in this film. I'm using my camera to do these, but in video mode you can't zoom in or out.
video

In this film I started from the overstuffed side box and went up to where the pots are on the front walk. I didn't talk about them, but you can see the soybeans in small pots to the right of the white pot. They just don't seem to be growing either. They look rather odd in my opinion because they're not sprouting many leaves. I tried to get on the ground to see the banana peppers, but wound up on the ground a bit harder than I had intended to, which qualifies itself more as falling than sitting.

video

I got up almost as gracefully as I landed, went back around the house, up the deck stairs and into the house when I turned around and realized Gibson wasn't behind me. I went back to the front of the house and Biggie (the girl's name for him) was just pitifully standing by the front door. The man says he's not the sharpest tool in the shed. I say he's a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic or a taco short of a combo plate, but he is a really good dog.

video

That's it for us now, and I know it's still afternoon when I post this, but the morning will still come early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Say "So Long," Carrots.

Help me with this one. Am I more frustrated that the carrots won't grow worth a darn, or am I just bored with them and not giving them a chance? They've been in the ground since January, and I think that's about enough time to forge a lasting relationship, which we have not. They have turned into a nuisance. The squash I planted behind them is getting incredibly leggy trying to grow above them. I pulled many of them this evening and got about six ounces out of them after I cut off the tops. I wasn't so thrilled, although I was really surprised that you could smell..well.."carrot" as you pulled them out of the ground. The boy, on the other hand, is beyond excited. He's eaten six of the little doo-jobies already. Notice the emphasis on the word 'little.' Eh, we'll try them again in the fall.
I don't know if this will work, nor really what I'm going to do with it in general, but this tall thing is the bean the girl brought home from the "master gardeners' fair." Of course, according to the boy, it must be placed in the same pot as the Lima beans he brought me for Mother's Day so as one child doesn't outdo the other. What will become of them? Who knows. They could be bosom buddies or terror roommates. What to do when they start climbing? Yea, I got nothin'. We'll see how they go.

Wolverine (the venus fly trap) seems to have found himself a few good meals. I'm rather impressed with him, myself.

At first, I was only going to do pictures of the whole yard once a month, but twice a month sounds good as well. It's grown quite a bit since the first of May. Some of the beans are already climbing over a foot. The peppers are really kind of tall and I'm worried they'll bend over since this is only May and we have a long time to go in the season. So far, no flowers or anything on the ones in the garden.Lastly, this is the moment I've been waiting for....do you see it?
The beans in hanging pots have reached the deck! They're small pots, so I'm hopeful that they won't get too rootbound and continue to grow well . In my perfect world, they'll vine around the slats of the deck. However, in my perfect world there is also always a cabana boy on call ready to provide me with that frosty beverage with a delicately placed umbrella. Wait!! I do have that. He's the man, and it's not so much a frosty beverage and umbrella so much as an iced martini and an olive. I'll take it any day. ...maybe there's hope for those beans after all.

The morning truly came early today...I had to be at the school at 4:00 AM to decorate for the senior breakfast. Hopefully tomorrow's won't be so terribly early, yet early enough to enjoy. Sweet gardening dreams.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So call me a blog-hog

I totally know this is two blog entries in under three hours, and this one is totally gardening unrelated - something I'd promised myself not to do - but Granny over at Annie's Kitchen Garden just posted the most adorable rendition of her grandaughter singing the Barney theme song in response to my previous post. What a doll. She's right. They grow up too fast. I am ashamed to say I look forward to them being sick. When they're sick, they let me hold them and kiss on them. Give me a low fever any day. When I went to register the boy for Kindergarten, there was a sign that said "Class of 2022." I tried to stifle the thought of how optimistic that was now-days, but it made me realize they will be grown all too soon.

I figured I'd post my response to her here because I realized as I was posting it I was relieving more frustration that the garden couldn't provide...I suppose that's where gardening friends come into play.

Thank you Granny. More than you'll ever know (which is an acceptable sentence fragment since I understand I just posted I was an English teacher and I fully expect the grammar attacks to begin).

Here is my response to her, which is understandably WAY too long for a "comment," but oh well:

Granny, I'm bustin' a gut. The boy saw your film and wants to know when "the real Barney will come to our house" because obviously the girl singing that adorable song is the real Barney.

[Our] girl thinks the song is sung "we're a sleepy family". Barney is a new phase with her, but I'm okay with that because she kisses and hugs us which she's too busy to do otherwise.

Her first love is Elmo (Elmo must die).

Why is it that when Zoe talks to a rock, Elmo is indignant and rolls his eyes at her, yet he feels totally justified in talking to that fish of his? That, and Elmo must think he's Bob Dole, speaking in the third person like he does.

Speaking of, she brought Elmo into the bath with her tonight unbeknownst to me...you would have thought someone had done shot her dog the way she wailed.

Dora is bossy. (do this, say that, jump up and down..WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO!!!!)

Joe from "Blue's Clues" is an idiot...THE CLUE IS RIGHT THERE!!!!!

Franklin should know that his insignificant shell doesn't offer him any protection against Fox.

Curious George teaches kids to disobey their parents.

I don't need my kids influenced by a hyperactive sea urchin (Sponge Bob -- although I understand sponges aren't sea urchins).

And this afternoon, while I was administering a final exam and three students interrupted my class and then had the nerve to roll their eyes and suck their teeth at me when I told them to go away, I found myself singing children's songs (Sandra Boynton's "Dog Train" to be exact) to calm myself down.

I need therapy. That, or vodka. Lots and lots of vodka.

God love you, Granny. Thank you for providing the support I needed today. And I say that with the full understanding that you won't change anyone's grade because "God will bless you and your children for it" (see previous post).

The morning comes early. Thank God for a new day.

Frustrations and Fortitude

It's during weeks like this that I am eternally grateful to the boy for wanting to be a "farmer man." I teach 12th grade English and am responsible for making graduation and all senior activities go off without a hitch. In the past few days I've received emails from parents that:
  • The way I dealt with tickets to graduation was a "pain in the butt."
  • I obviously didn't consult the parents when I scheduled graduation for 10:00 AM on a Wednesday (BTW, this date and time is given to us by the county).
  • The county website has us listed as graduating at the civic center and we're graduating at the arena.
  • My choice for a videographer is not whom this parent would have chosen.
  • The senior dinner didn't last long enough.
  • I was ignorant in instituting a dress code for senior dinner (apparently teenagers don't own ties anymore).
  • I needed to get input from all parents before making plans for any senior activities
  • A mother is upset that all of the students will be dressed the same at graduation and her cat could do a better job of picking the date and time (refer to above).
And best of all

"God would bless [me] and [my] children" if I'd give her student 20 extra points and ignore the three essays and four homework assignments her daughter didn't turn in, in order for her to pass my class.

I had half a mind to tell the ticket, location and time, and cat lady that they were welcome to hold their own graduation ceremony in their back yard at the date and time of their convenience. "Pomp and Circumstance" is easily downloaded from their computer and the students could all dress as they pleased and they'd have a grand old time. Of course, they'd have to have a parent committee for all 446 of the prospective graduates in order to approve it.

I didn't, but that didn't stop me from wanting to. Never mind that it's finals week and I have to make sure I've prepared my students for their exam.

By the end of the day, I was ready to call that momma's cat and seriously felt I had the fortitude to drown myself in the water fountain. Either that or call up John for a BM...John, I'd take one electronically if you don't mind. :)

Then, I came home, walked out into the garden and saw:
My eggplant forming out of the blossom...it's a little white instead of purple. Do you think it will make it or is it poor pollination?
The tomatoes in their full glory.
My black radishes topped out 1 lb and 10 oz
My banana peppers starting to form.
The beans are starting to climb their hanger and will be at the deck soon.The purple beans are almost ready to blossom.
And put together a plate with a few carrots, the red radishes and black radishes that I pulled.
It didn't hurt that I could visualize these mommas as I ripped the radishes from the ground. I'm now peaceful, serene and content. I must say the martini helped me achieve this frame of mind. Now the 2 yr old girl is holding the boy's hand and kissing and hugging him singing the Barney theme song.
All is right with the world.
Although, I seriously am going to have to institute a Barney Free Zone in this house.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Growth and Meet Wolverine.

First and foremost, happy Mother's day to all the mothers out there and as well to the men who have survived it for I am sure you are just as "happy" that it's over and the pressure is off.

Mothers love hand made gifts from their children, especially those that remind them they are 6 foot tall and 38 pounds (see two posts ago for the full story). However, this Mother's day has not only found a place in my heart, but also in my mind because it made me remember something I tend to forget.

As all parents of small children know, it's rare that you can go out to a meal and not have someone comment on your children. Today when we went out for breakfast, an inordinate number of people old and young, men and women, came to our table, patted me on the shoulder, commented on the children and wished me a happy Mother's Day. I reciprocated in turn when appropriate and left breakfast with a smile and a glow around my heart. As we ran our errands and walked up and down the aisles of the stores, more and more people issued the phrase with a smile. I began to initiate the Mother's Day wishes as the morning wore on, saw the effect of it on others and mulled it over.

I didn't know these people from Adam. They didn't know me. Today wasn't like the Thanksgiving or Christmas season where everyone greets everyone until the phrases have little to no meaning to them. Today, I was greeted with endearing eye contact and a salutation full of sentiment for they, themselves, were all mothers or those who were remembering their own mothers fondly.

We are all in this together. I tend to forget this at times as busy as life gets. Consequently, it is with a warm heart and a thoughtful glance that I am wishing you all a happy Mother's day.

Then, there's Wolverine. I haven't known him long, but he's most likely only going to look out for himself. When we were in the hardware store today, I lost sight of the boy and found him with a plant in hand talking to one of the clerks. He had found a Venus Flytrap and the clerk was showing him how it closed up when it was tickled. He was fascinated and so was his father. They bought the plant but no amount of pleading on his father's or my part could convince that boy to name the plant "Audrey"; we all settled on his idea of "Wolverine" because of the spine like feelers on its edges.

The bean the girl planted at the "master gardener's" fair and the lima beans the boy brought home for Mother's Day from school are both sprouting. I'll need to find something to do with these soon.
I pulled the rest of the bolting onions to make way for the watermelon and found this oddity. The roots on the watermelon I was transplanting were very shallow...is this how watermelons should be? I'm worried they won't root well.
I also planted a yellow pear tom (my favorite) in the side box.
The beans in hanging baskets are starting to wind their way up the planter and onto the hook. Sooner than later they will be sprawling on the deck like I had envisioned.
The purple beans in the side box are about to flower, the eggplant has its second flower and the peppers are holding the spent flowers and you can see small peppers emerging. I hope they stay healthy and don't drop off like the others have. The SSpeas are getting larger daily and the okra in the pot seems to have the beginnings of flower buds on it as well. I think I'll be able to pick my first three or four Tuesday or so. I pulled all but two of the lettuces since they looked like they were trying very hard to bolt. Over all, it was a good gardening day.
The morning comes early. Particularly on a Monday. Sweet gardening dreams.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mr. Pea, I presume...

I'm not watering for another three months, at least.

I'm amazed at how well the SFG kept up with the constant barrage of water. You never saw puddling or much of a disturbance of the soil. The ants, however, are another story. The little tiny red ants have found the soil. I'm half convinced that if I dug up a section of the beds I'd realize the whole thing was one big ant mound. They're crawling on the boxes, around and in the soil and worst of all, climbing on the fledgling plants. So far I can't tell if they're doing any damage.

I would not have thought after how many fierce storms we've had and a week without sun that the garden would have done much of anything this week. How very wrong I was. Just take a look at this and compare it with the pictures below taken last week.

Okra in a pot WAY too small.
Bush tom

Inside that bush tom
I didn't know eggplant flowers were so beautiful!
Pepper plants in pots
Side bed of bush beans, radishes and cucumbers

And here is what it's really all about:
Mr. Pea, I presume?
I don't know if I'm more happy that I didn't rip out the plants a month ago or if I'm frustrated that they took since January to bloom. Needless to say, I'm very, very anxious to get a few pods out of them. The plants have got to go in a few weeks to make room for something else. They've bought themselves a little time since I can't decide what to plant in the pot. I might stick some more okra in it. I still have several seedlings that need repotting, but I may be looking for something more exciting for that pot....Any ideas?
The morning comes early...even on a weekend. Sweet gardening dreams.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gardening? What's that?

Not much gardening has been going on around here the last two days, I'm afraid. I pulled another few ounces of salad greens and two more black radishes the other day. The squash and zucchini are doing very well and the replacement beans are looking to root. The peas are blooming (and to think I almost ripped them out), and I'm attacking each pepper flower with a q-tip since none has been appropriately pollinated yet, and all this between rain bursts.

**addendum, I just sneaked out after writing this initially and saw that more pepper blossoms that I had hand pollinated had fallen off at the stem. Any ideas why? My soybeans are emerging, my eggplant flower is opening and my empty square of bush cucumbers that had so long refused to sprout, did so today. At least there isn't a blank...EG, you feeling me?


It's been raining on and off here, as in seemingly most of the country, since last Friday. Seems as though every storm has dropped tons of rain, mass amounts of hail and kicked off a few tornadoes. The toads are floating...seriously. We have another storm going outside right now and the news reports some places may get up to 5 inches. Gibson, our Great Dane, is doing his best Chicken Little impression pacing around as if the world is coming to an end. Occasionally he'll stick his nose in the children's faces and plead for them to heed his warning only to continue his rounds when they don't give him his required response.

The boy brought home one of those preschool fill in the blank Mother's Day cards for which he dictated the answers for the blanks to his teacher to complete. It's about time someone realized that I truly am 6 feet tall and 38 pounds. It's good to know that his misconceptions about my height and weight are just as solidly grounded in improbability as my own.

On that note, I think I'll polish off that piece of cheesecake in the fridge before I go to bed. I hear I don't need to feel guilty about it.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thoughts and Transformations

Yesterday, the town next to us was holding what they billed as a "master gardeners' fair". I was very excited and brought a sample of my compost hoping someone could identify the creepy crawlies in it. I was so disappointed. The fair consisted of four booths, one guy selling raised beds seemingly made from rough pallet wood who yelped in pain each time he touched his work without gloves, another with spindly tomatoes, one selling marginally living flowers and shrubs and a lady with a big hat...none of which were master gardeners. I asked around which wasn't hard to do since I was the only patron of the "fair" and heard the lady with the hat was my best bet at the compost answer. She didn't want to look at my sample, but I politely pushed the issue. She eventually took a side glance at the container and said they were worm eggs; I replied with sarcasm that I had no idea that worm eggs had multiple legs and could run that fast. She waved her hand around and said something to the effect that compost was a living organism and that if I didn't have bugs, then I had problems.

*sigh*

What I did learn is that the town is setting up a community garden where you can purchase a 4x8 raised bed plot for $35 a year. The first year is going to be volunteer work and construction. Next year, hypothetically, will be the first year you can plant. She kept flip flopping if it was going to be a community garden where you'd have your own space, or a teaching garden where you'd plant your own stuff for schools and churches to come in and learn from, meaning they'd be in and around your veggies doing who knows what to your beds which doesn't thrill me. I can't decide if it's something I want to take part in or not. I'd love it because it is full sun and would allow me to plant more of the things I can't put in my sun challenged back yard. However, walking into a community garden run by a group that is shaky on their own dedication to the project has me nervous. I may, more likely, keep it in mind and check on their progress next year, which is a shame since I'd love to be involved in starting something like this, but I don't want to get all involved physically and emotionally and have them drop the ball which seems likely at this point. Maybe I can volunteer over the summer and see where the project is when I go back to school. That way I can form an educated and not simply judgemental opinion.

Otherwise, the transformation from a spring garden to a summer garden is taking place this month. The red radishes, lettuce and broccoli did phenomenally this spring. I think I may limit the spring crops to this next year and leave more blanks to plant summer crops after Easter. Here are the way things are shaping up now. I'll start from the front left and move across and then back.
On the end of the first large bed there is a zucchini peaking it's head out. Next to that are black radishes in front and carrots behind. Radishes are about the size of a golf ball and I pulled another today that rivaled a tennis ball, but they need to get much bigger. I don't know if I'll leave them in to maturity, but thin them to one or two left to mature. The carrots are irritatingly languid. I'm planning on putting sweet potatoes there in the next month so they may not make it. To the right of the bed I have three cantaloupe plants which are more than likely too close together. The small box with the bolting onions (why can't I grow onions? I've tried multiple times) will hold SB watermelon. I figured they can run in with the cantaloupe. I've heard that peppers and melons shouldn't be near each other, so what do I do? Plant peppers on the right of the second box as close to the melons as I can get them. Oh well. live and learn. On the left of the second bed is another zucchini plant just put in today.

The first 3x3 box still has carrots in front and lettuce in back. I put a squash in the middle to mature while the others finish out. The back 3x3 has four bush tomatoes in the corners. They won't bush out so much with the limited sun, so things should be fine having them in that tight space. I left a bucket out there, I now notice. Sorry about that.


You can see how sporadically my larger bed has filled in. On the back row you have four of cucumber, one tomato and three squares of pole beans. Working in the front by the cucumbers, you can see how spotty the bush beans filled in. Something is eating them as they emerge from the ground (I'm thinking the little creepy crawlies, but whatever) I just replanted, so we'll see if I'm luckier the second go around. There are six squares of bush cukes, and the hanging pot with the pole beans I'm hopeful will climb up to the deck railing is blocking a view of the six okra that may or may not make it with the limited sun. I put an okra in the blank spot at the end of the pepper bed and some in a pot so hopefully I can get something out of them one way or another. I also put some soybean seeds in pots in front and in back. If I opt out of the watermelon, the soybeans will also go in the small onion bed.

The peas in the front pot are blooming! Amazing...it's only taken since early January. They're pale and slowly dying from the bottom up, but they're flowering like mad. I'm glad I left them...we'll see if anything comes of them. I'll be pleasantly surprised if they do.

Granny and EG have calmed my fears about the limited sun in the back yard. Things may not grow as large or produce as much, but if anything I'm hopeful it will do the plants some good in the fierce GA heat of July.

The fierce thunderstorms are here and the morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Reflections and Realizations

I could do my best Sally Field impersonation right about now, but I'd alienate any past readers and certainly discourage any new ones from continuing. Granny, from Annie's Kitchen Garden (http://annieskitchengarden.blogspot.com) has gifted me with the nicest blogging award which I put on the side here. It's rather significant to me because it was from reading Granny's blog that I found out what blogging was all about; yes, I'm late to the embracing technology game. My students are still shocked that all my cell phone does is dial numbers which apparently puts me in the category of those still unable to program a VCR. I came upon Granny's blog and was inspired. She encouraged me along through my fall garden and I try to emulate her in my blog.
Thank you, Granny.

Today is the first day I've been home during the day to actually see the length of daylight I have left after the nefarious oak tree has filled out. It is worse than I thought. I've been cut from 6.5 hours to just around 5. This is going to seriously inhibit my attempts to grow most of anything back there and it's my largest bed with the trellis. I could have sworn that the sun was there longer, but obviously I was mistaken. Lesson learned build any new beds during the summer. I'm disappointed because this is where I've put my beans, all my cucumbers and my okra. I think the beans may do okay, but the cucumbers and okra will suffer.

The rain that fell yesterday and should continue through the weekend is much needed, but it also inhibits any pictures in this post. The pots all in the front are amazing. The black radishes in the back are really looking good as well. I pulled the broccoli out of the SFG this afternoon. It wasn't as bad as I thought. I brought the shovel, intending to sever the roots along the square, but started off just ripping the ones out only bordered by the other broccoli. When I realized how small the root ball was that came with it, I pulled out the ones near the peppers with no problems. Tomorrow I'll try to get a break in the rain and transplant my squash that I have in small containers. I'm trying to think if I want to try some SBwatermelon as well. I have a small box they could fit in and then merge in with the cantaloupe. I'm going to also try to start some soybeans in the new hole left by the broccoli over by the peppers.

OOOhh!!! My SSPeas in the front, besides being totally brown and a pale green have sent out flowers. I may just get two or three pods out of it after all.

I'm obviously going to have to rethink my garden plan now that I know for sure how much sun is lost in the SFG. Any idea what I could plant that would get the strong sun for only 5 or so hours a day? I'm afraid I'm going to be terribly limited.