Friday, June 26, 2009

More Garden

Here's what's happening in the garden today. First of all, it's a beautiful day.

Mr. Gnome can't believe how tall the onions have grown.

He also mentioned that we have a tomato. I was like, "Yeah, right." And he's all "I'm not kidding. Go check it out." So I did:


I was sitting on the deck sewing up a shirt that Stanley ripped on a chair while he was trying to squeeze by me in the dining room, when the squirrel came by. I'm pretty sure it's always the same squirrel that I see on the deck. She's rather large and lacks the fear I see in most other squirrels. She hung out for a while, giving herself a little scratch/tongue-bath session on the railing. I video'd it with my new camera but I am having trouble uploading it, so you're going to have to settle for a still photo.

She's pissed that I'm sitting on her deck. She spitefully notified me that I had messed up and put the ugly side of the stitches on the outside of the shirt. I was like "No way." And she was like "Yah, biatch!" And I was all, "No I di'in't." And she's like "Holla!!"

We have 12 zucchini plants. So far. New ones sprout every few days. I googled how many zucchinis can be expected from each plant, and the only example I found was 24. So we might expect nearly 300 zucchini this season. This causes me to worry, and Stanley is worried as well, as indicated by the following quotes: "That's awesome!" "Yay, lots of recipes we can try." "It's okay, we can give the extras to people."

Yeah but 300.

I bought a pitchfork so I can aerate the compost now and then. The little piece of wood and my bare hands were (literally!) just not cutting it. A shovel never worked; I couldn't shove it into the compost effectively. So I turned it with a pitchfork for the first time and it worked pretty well. I learned a lot about compost during this exercise. Here is some of what I learned.

  1. Turning compost is subjectively disgusting (if you're squeamish, skip to #2). The main element that contributes to the grossness is a surprise factor, in that you don't know what you're going to discover with each turn of the pitchfork. I impaled a potato (a whole potato, yes I know I should have cut it up first, but it was from a big bag of old potatoes and I did NOT want to spend time chopping up old potatoes. Next time, I will, because they are not decomposing very quickly) and a string of off-white slime oozed out of it. Was not expecting slime.
  2. Compost can emit very strong wafts of various unrecognizable and vaguely recognizable odors. The compost doesn't smell in general, but turning it unleashes all the odors that have been covered.
  3. Seeds in the compost often sprout. On a whim I took a clove of garlic that had sprouted roots and about 6 inches of deformed stalks, and planted it in one of the red pots that had an onion in it that had not sprouted a flower as the other one did. I put the non-growing onion in the compost. Whole. Yes, I know. We ate a cantaloupe this week, and the seeds went in the compost, so we may have some cantaloupe growing someday. This happens to Stanley's mom all the time, and she just lets it grow and eats the melons, as long as they haven't crossbred with something different that would affect the taste. Apparently this year they crossbred with squash. According to Richard Nixon, this would be a good reason to abort the cantasquash. Squasheloupe.
  4. I've been adding all our food waste (except meat), plus extra brown matter (leaves, old mulch) each time I add food, and having been doing this for 6 weeks, and the pile has remained the same size throughout. It's like magic. A perfect waste disposal system.
  5. The food I added at the beginning has decomposed. The only recognizable food left is stuff we have put in there from the last week, and whole things. Whole potatoes, whole onions.
Have a great weekend!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Could You Check Out This Growth?

I just got a new camera and I'm playing hooky from lab today, so I decided to give you a photo update on our garden.

In these three pots are store-bought white onions that sprouted due to not having been eaten quickly enough. I planted them in early May when the middle one was about 6 inches high.

As you can hopefully see, the middle one took off and now has a couple of blooms on it. Apparently these will not produce onions, but they will produce seeds that can be planted next year, but why bother?

I like the sculptural quality of the long thick stock with the ridiculously small poof at the top. It might look kind of cool if there were a big group of them in one spot, so I'm considering planting more onions next year if we can get them really cheap. I'll start them indoors, simply by ignoring them.

A gratuitous, 9.5-megapixel shot of Baps.

The back garden, where most of the action is.

From the lower left corner to the upper right: 1.) Swiss chard, which we have been eating a lot of. It grows really fast and plentiful. Plus it's healthy, and looks nice in the garden. This variety has red, yellow, orange, white and green stalks which looks kind of cool. A 12" pile of chard leaves, stems removed, chopped up and sauteed in a little oil and garlic, miraculously cooks down to 4 servings, but you have to add a little at a time or there will be an unmanageable mess on the stove. We've also had it as the main leaf in salads, and it's great, not too bitter, similar to spinach. 2) A tiny rhubarb plant just above the chard, on the far left of the photo. We'll be able to harvest it next year. 3) White onions or garlic, I forget which. 4) Three tomato plants, now blossoming and almost tall enough to stabilize with the recycled stair rail that used to be at our back door before the deck was built, and now is practical yard art. 5) Asparagus, 4' tall at the back near the fence, which we'll be able to harvest next year. 6) White onions or garlic, I forget which.
Below is one of 4 or 5 zucchini plants that have come up so far. For sake of reference, my feet are size 10, and I believe the color is OBI A True Original. I just got a pedicure yesterday, on a whim.

Here's our herb bucket, with basil, rosemary and thyme. The basil is doing great, much better than last year, and we've been able to harvest a lot of it and it keeps coming back. It's probably because it's getting more sun this year.

Six weeks ago I planted sweet peas in 4 hanging baskets around the yard, and they are coming up now.
I can definitely see the appeal of spending 12,000% more money on full-sized plants and getting immediate gratification at the very start of the season, but that's okay. I do think I'm going to start some seeds indoors next year, so I don't have to go six weeks after the last frost until something starts to happen, and then wait even longer for the plants to get to full size and then bloom.

Six weeks ago I planted moonflower seeds along this fence, hoping that they would grow as legend tells, 12-15 feet, and cover up the ugly fence. On top of that, they are supposed to have gorgeous 4-5" flowers that open at dusk in the space of a minute and stay open until noon the following day.

I've been waiting and watching for moonflower sprouts, and thought for a few days that a couple of the vines toward the back might be moonflower, but as they are actually growing up out of the neighbors yard, this is unlikely.

Then, finally, yesterday I was rewarded for my impatience.

That's about 1.5" tall. Here is a slightly more mature sprout (for sake of reference, I have man hands):

I have looked at pictures of moonflower sprouts online and I can say with confidence that these are them, in part because of the way the leaves look like they have had the tips bitten off, and because they are growing precisely along the line that I planted them. I planted around 40 seeds and I've seen 5 sprouts so far. Unfortunately a lot of weeds have taken over much of the growing area. I guess the good gardener in me would clear out all the weeds and just let the moonflower and hostas grow. But I'm kind of fond of some of the weeds, like the catmint, the nightshade, the clover and the creeping charlie. I guess I'm not a good gardener.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Highlights from California

I went to California a couple of weeks ago to visit family. It was great; I got to hang out with my niece and nephew, and their children, one of whom I hadn't met yet. Both are fantastic kids. I also got to spend time with my oldest sister and her husband on their farm. I like this family photo a lot. It's taken in my niece and nephew's back yard.

I got to spend a little time with my red-haired sister as well, but she was a little tied up being the maid of honor and wedding coordinator for her friends, who were tying the knot after a 25-year courtship. The wedding was great and I saw a lot of people who haven't seen me since I was much, much younger.

The kids fed ducks and geese in a pond.

Meet my sister's cat, Epperson, who is the bravest cat I've ever met. He likes to help with major projects, no matter how dangerous.

The sheep dog. Crap, I forget her name. It starts with an S. She's really friendly, but never wants to leave the sheep, so she is essentially one of them. She scares off coyotes.

A turkey? My sister Janis* raises turkeys, geese, ducks and chickens. She has a bunch of eggs in the house in incubators and I got to turn them a couple of times.

This goat loves to be petted and is also quite large, and likes to get right in your face, with his hooves dangerously close to your inadequately shoed feet, so he generally just made me nervous. But he is sweet.

I remember, as a child, several times, the pain of the full weight of an adult goat concentrated on a small pedal surface. They don't step on you on purpose but humans have got such big feet that cover a wide area of ground that it's hard to avoid them. I should have brought hiking boots. I knew before I flew out I was going to be in that situation, and I had wanted to set up a photo studio with a white backdrop so I could get some artsy shots of the goats, but every time I got near the ground, the goat above would get in my space and make me lose my balance, plus there was the fear of getting stepped on, so the portrait session got dramatically curtailed. This little guy did do a little posing for me.

I have not been blogging lately for various reasons. It's not for a lack of topics. My life is terrifically interesting. I do stuff, I buy stuff, I eat stuff. I guess updating my Facebook status has taken the place of blogging; it takes less time, keeps people updated in a small way, and I get feedback, which is highly rewarding. Or maybe I just think I'm too good to write at length about my life and share it with you. But this brings me to a related topic. Why haven't you been blogging? Have you not seen anything worth writing about? I highly doubt that.

* Names changed.