Saturday, July 23, 2011

Suddenly, flowers.....

Five months coming to this point and  I know how this happens.  I don't know how this happens.

The broccoli's center heads have been harvested...side shoots beginning.  Potatoes ready-more than ready-to be dug.  Only one zucchini plant lost to the squash bug so far.  It's still amazing to me how much food just 400 square feet can produce. 

That's Romanesco cauliflower behind the zinnia.  I finally sent them to the compost pile this week.  They'd been regularly deer munched and after 75 days, still not the least sign of a head.  Cayenne peppers now own the space.  The Romanesco should have produced this.  A compost pile accepts the failures without judgement.

Most of the basil in the background is in the freezer now; pimento peppers will get taller with a second crop of basil at their feet.  (Tropea onions too.)  The dill is serendipity....first batch of refrigerator pickles tomorrow.  Salvia guarantica, browallia, Sky petunias-blue and blue and blue.

Red currents in the common area for anyone to pick.  I got enough to put a quart of current juice in the freezer.  This is one of the easiest fruits to grow...the shrub is pretty and the berries are easy to pick. Most of the birds are off robbing the cherry trees and leave the currents alone.

Very pretty, but white currents are......white.  Unusual color in fruit.  They taste...unidentifiably ....fruity.  I could do this with them, I suppose.  I may pick some to dry and see where that leads, but it just seems like a fruit should taste like a color or a color should taste like a fruit or or or something.  There's no real resemblance, but a white fruit  puts me squeamishly in mind of poison ivy berries.  (shudder)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hot and Blooming

The squash bugs are on their way...I think I've caught most of the eggs in my plot, so that only leaves another five acres for these creeps to breed in.    (Click here for photo of the young squash bug and here for the adult)  So far, the diatomaceous earth is keeping the squash borers and cucumber beetles from doing too much damage.  (I have planted more cucumbers because the beetles skeletonized the first blooms.)  Meanwhile, a second set of zucchini seeds is germinating because even if I keep the bugs beat down, the Mildew Brothers...remember them?  Downy and Powdery...will be coming soon.

Rewards!  Here are the last of the central buds from the Diplomat broccoli...this variety has a reputation for producing  lots of side buds over the rest of the season. And the first Zephyr zucchini...woohoo!  (Sure, boxes of zephyr have been at the farmer's market-4 bucks a pound-but I love the harvest here.)  Tip for organic broccoli: I give the heads and leaves a dip in salt water to scare out any wee beasties.

Here's a little nemophilia called Buffalo Eyes-a silly name for flower this delicate if you think about an eyeball the size of your fist belonging to a 1500 pound animal whose sense of humor has worn thin.

Summer forget-me-not and it really is this blue.

The agrostemma (Ocean Pearls variety) is finally  opening.  It likes a cool soil and has been happy growing amongst the red savoy cabbages.  The common name is corn cockle, an agricultural pest elsewhere; it doesn't survive the winters here. One of the best cut flowers ever.

Covent Garden annual babies breath-gypsophila-and I have been waiting for this to bloom.  The seed is becoming harder to find even though it's a self-sowing hardy annual.  I'll save its seed this year...just in case.  All commercial attention goes to plants with marketing programs like the Proven Winners and these easy, charming flowers drop off the list.

Soil temperature update:  on July 10 at about 1 pm....under 2-3 inches of straw mulch:  at 4" soil depth, 72 degrees.  At 2 inches soil depth, 73.5 degrees.    No mulch/bare soil : at 4 inches soil depth 82 degrees and at 2 inches, 93.5.   The reflective straw does smooth out the temperature changes while the bare soil registers at least a 10 degree temperature change over only 2 inches.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I spend more time getting to and from my  garden plot than I do actually working in it.  It's a community shared 20 x 20 foot gridwork of relationships, personal problems and mysterious behavior.  This wonderful chair, for example....must be garden art, I guess because you wouldn't want to sit there between the cabbages and the squash in the blazing sunshine.  

 If you have a lot of woody bits and pieces, you have to do something with them.  Actually growing a crop doesn't seem to be the priority here.   There are garden plants beyond the fence, but this plot is really a study in lumber and dirt...a geometry of barriers.

This ramshackle length of wire tied with a strip of cloth says "keep out" quite clearly.  I pass by here often and wonder about the  gardener.  It's a symbolic barrier; there's not much to keep out and less to protect within, but that simple piece of cloth has a strong voodoo.  The deterrent is not in the engineering, but in the intent of the engineer.  

 Here are domesticated plants left to fend for themselves.  I once lived next to a small dairy farm; occasionally the cows escaped their pasture and wandered into my garden where they would stand looking perplexed until someone came to collect them.  (1200 pounds of befuddled dairy cow can stomp a lot of garden into compost before she's redirected.)  These lettuce plants are like those cows; they need someone to own them, to put them back in context.

The story on this neato shelter....there was a grant to pay an actual Irish thatcher-fellow to install actual Irish thatch, but before the money came through, he went back to Ireland leaving the structure thatchless.  Master gardener volunteers eventually used cattail foliage for thatching and hey presto!  (You may need to know this trick someday).

 There is a wonderful shed for shared tools and rain barrels on both sides.

Nice homey feel to this plot where the gardener is recycling furniture wood for planting beds.

This garden art actually says a lot about this gardener.

The memorial orchard is maintained by volunteers.  You can read the sad backstory here

The fruit trees have been sprayed with Surround, a kaolin clay product-OMRI approved-that acts as a barrier to Bad Guys.  Surround has been around for ten years and enough evidence has been accrued to note that the silver white surface also increases yields in the trees by protecting the foliage against intense sun and heat. (Yup.  Trees don't really like those sweltering July days either; photosynthesis shuts down around 85 degrees.)

One Japanese beetle dying of lonesomeness.  Unfortunately, Surround doesn't bother the deer at all.  Several of these trees have been deer pruned.
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