Wednesday, September 16, 2009

garden recap

To summarize, there's the failed garden, the tomato garden and the water garden. [ a tale of three gardens]

The failed garden produced a lot of weeds, prolific carrot, beet and radish tops, a goodly amount of smallish tomatoes with no taste, and some pretty - but stunted - red chard.

Steve came over the other day to help me shut it down. Here, by the way, is a visual depiction of why the garden failed. Yes, the failed garden is in the dark place - who knew the sun would be just to the right of where we put the garden?!

But before we shut it down completely, we dug out the languishing gladioli and peony and tried to remember where we'd put the potatoes.

"Do you think there will actually BE any potatoes?" I asked, "The greens died back quite a while ago. . . ."

Steve replied, ever confident. "We just have to find them." Much digging ensued. Yes, Luther liked that part, and entered into the game with vim and much vigor. Ha! Lookee here!! A potato. Whaddya know?! All right, so there weren't that many of them, but what fun to find them! Here's the full haul. Really, you could stop laughing now. . . .

In other garden news, the tomato garden is now rather spindly, yellowing and browning, but there are still several Long Tom tomatoes on the vine, so I'll leave it standing until those ripen. Those were the favorite this year, by the way. Bright red all the way through, almost solid flesh, very few seeds and, according to the king, delicious.

The water garden has had its ups and downs - growth and water level-wise. We've had a LOT of rain! The Fairy Tale aubergine did not do well there - and I finally transplanted them into a container in the courtyard where I hope I can control the water and the bugs that reduce its leaves to a tracery. I secured some seeds from the few which did grow, and which I will plant early [in containers!] next year. We may get some more aubergines this year, however, if the new flowers on the recovering plants are any indication.

After a full growing season, I now count myself well able to distinguish between a newly germinated bean vine and the weed version that looks almost identical, but grows twice as fast, strangling everything in sight, before putting out little white flowers and no beans. I don't think I can describe the difference to you, it's really more a general feeling I now get of malevolence from the weed versions. Of course, over a day or two you can see the growth spurt, which is also a dead giveaway.

Speaking of growth spurts, note to self: One Thomas Jefferson vine (the so-called Hyacinth Bean, now rumored to be toxic?!) is MORE than enough to adorn just about any trellis, wall or other structure. Ten was overkill. . . . It lures you into complacency, however, by a very slow start. It germinates only once the soil is good and warm, and then puts out the initial leaves and then. . . . just sits there. For weeks - nothing. You plant more. By now, of course, the sun has warmed the soil and they germinate a bit more rapidly, put out the initial leaves, and. . . . sit.

OK, maybe one or two more. . . .

Same story.

Suddenly, they all erupt. They're pretty things - look at these flowers! The bean pods are just forming, and not quite visible. I have to resolve whether or not they're edible. I'm hearing conflicting reports. Typical, the one thing I should have PLENTY OF might be toxic. Figures.

Anyway, here, you can't see the wall they've engulfed. I'm also a little worried about the 'Hummingbird Vine' I planted along with them. That's the feathery fern-type foliage you can see in the foreground. And that's just from one seed. One teeney, tiny seed. Oh how I hope they don't produce more seeds. . . . But back to the water garden: the beans are finally doing well, now in the cooler weather. Further note to self: green beans are hard to spot next to green leaves and vines. (keep looking at the picture and see how many you can find! There's more than you think) Unfortunately, I planted only the Scarlet Runner beans in the water garden - next year, I'm sticking with the Purple Podded Pole bean. . . . They're beautiful, and a whole lot easier to see! Oh, and they turn green when you cook 'em, so not to worry that eating purple beans might put you off. . . . [I think I'd like them purple, but, like I said, they turn green when cooked. Sorry!]

I gave up on the failed garden tomatoes I'd planted from seed (Cour di Bue Italian heirlooms) and threw some seeds in the water garden. The first tomato is finally almost ripe! One good thing about lots of water is that you don't see skin splits on the fruit. Apparently that's a result of "uneven" watering. . . . The tomato garden suffered from "uneven watering" - as split skins testified!

Here, you see that the arugula is also flourishing in the cooler weather. We may actually get a salad out of that! The red chard looks ok. . . . not exactly like what you see in the grocery store. Ah - but here - basil! Oh, my, basil. . . . It's almost 4 feet tall and very, very healthy! Yep. Planted from seed. A 'Genovese' strain. Very flavorful! I'll collect seeds from that.

Next on the agenda, replacing the crap-for-soil Tom builder used instead of real dirt in the area I told him [over and over and over again] would be the garden. There's just no getting around it. Nothing will grow there otherwise! And there's not a whole lot of sun in the areas that still have pristine soil.

Ah well. I've got all fall and winter to work at it. Who needs a gym membership when you have a shovel, pickaxe, wheelbarrow and rock and hardened clay slime to excavate and haul away?! The worst part is that the soil here was just perfect. Rich and not a rock to be found. Certainly no clay. Lot of roots, though! It is a forest. . . .

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