Tuesday, June 8, 2010

garden update.

Well, I think we're officially done with rain for the season. It's been good and hot for the past week or so...into the 90's...but thankfully, cooling down at night. Thank goodness. As I've mentioned a time or seventeen, I am NOT a hot weather person. At all. Not even a little bit. 76 degrees is pushing it in my book. But somehow I've manged to stay in the city I grew up in all these years where it is H.O.T. I think it was 116 degrees during last summer's All-Star games. 116!! That's insane.

OK...so anyway...before I get upset...I'm going to move on to the one positive thing about hot weather: the garden. It's the one thing that makes me somewhat OK with hot weather. Sort of. At least there's a payoff for suffering through the heat...fresh, organic, vegetables that I grew myself.

This year, however, has been kind of crazy and unpredictable on the weather front. Rain. And lots of it. So here it is June 8 and I feel like I'm running a little behind in the garden department. Luckily for me, California has a long growing season. (Another perk to the hot weather, I suppose.)

Tomatoes: Luckily I planted tomatoes in April. And they're doing well. I bought another Mr. Stripey...and he failed me, yet again. He's the one heirloom that our local big store sells so I thought I'd give him another chance. (He failed me last year, too.) Never again. Mr. Stripey is an unreliable wimp in my book. Early Girl, however, is growing wonderfully and producing beautiful, plentiful tomatoes. Can't wait for some of them to ripen up! I also have a Grape tomato that is HUGE and taking over the tomato area. Tons of foliage...tons of blossoms...tons of tomatoes. So far I'm liking it...even though it's not heirloom. Then the non-heirloom Sweet 100. Last year's grew like crazy and produced tiny little candy-like tomatoes that were SO GOOD. So I thought I'd grow one again. It's being shaded by the Grape tomato a bit...but is holding it's own. I've eaten one delicious cherry tomato so far...and it was good.

Peppers: Oh the peppers. Poor, poor little peppers. We bought five, lovely, healthy pepper plants back in April when we bought the tomatoes. (I think? Or was it March? I can't remember....) I planted them at the same time...with Ian's help. We planted them...caged them...watered them...and they were happy. Then one day The Girls managed to bat their lashes at my husband who decided that the poor little things needed some time out of lock-down...and yes, he let them out of the coop. And he watched them for a while, as per our agreement. Then, he came in the house "real quick", caught sight of a game or something on TV, and promptly forgot that he'd let them out. People say that chickens are dumb. I beg to differ. They knew exactly what they were doing. And my pepper plants are PROOF. For whatever reason, I went out on the deck, just in time to see ALL FOUR CHICKENS eating the HECK out of my pepper plants!! Oh my gosh...it was awful. Sharp beaks flying...crazed look in their eyes...innocent little plants being yanked and torn and ripped to shreds. Carnage. Horror. I'll never forget it... (And neither will the chickens...I won't tell you what I did to them. Think Foghorn Leghorn and feathers flying.) So we planted five peppers...and only three made it. The shock of the attack was just too much for the poor little things to bear. Would you believe that they are just now making a comeback? I'm still upset over it...can you tell?

Squash: Just planted three starts yesterday. Yellow crookneck, and two zucchini, the typical dark green Ambassador and Lolita, a lighter, variegated green. And they are hap-py. But not heirloom. Are you noticing a trend here?

Cucumbers: I planted them last weekend...an Armenian, a pickling cucumber that I bought on accident, a regular ol' cucumber and a lemon cucumber that my neighbor gave to me. Apparently our local hardware store gave it to her because it was about to croak. And she only plants tomatoes. So she gave it to me, I stuck it in the ground...and so far, so good. I planted them in light shade...so we'll see how they do.

Herbs in pots: I've got Sage and Rosemary from last year's planting. The Rosemary just lives all the time and the Sage, while it died back last season, came back nice and strong in Spring. I just planted Lemon Balm, Chives, Lemon Thyme and English Thyme. All the herbs are in pots except for the flat leaf parsley I planted directly in the ground in April. It's doing great, too. In the past I've kept the herbs on the deck lining the steps. I think it looks nice. But...so do the chickens...nice and tasty, that is! So I put all the herbs in the garden area this year...just in case.

Flowers: I've got Nasturtiums coming up and growing nice and strong and some marigolds in the plastic containers that I still have to plant.

Yet to do: Plant beans and sunflowers from seed. And maybe some lettuce in the shade. I do love fresh lettuce.

So...the heirloom issue. I have big ideas as far as heirloom seeds...seed saving...surviving off the land and whatever we can grow...preserving for the year...yada yada. But I have to say...it's easier said than done. If one wants to plant only heirloom then one has to start seeds on their own. And to start seeds on one's own, one needs someplace to start said seeds. And...as of right now...I don't have that place. And I haven't made that place. So, I buy plants already started from big box stores and they're almost all hybrid. So be it. Growing your own food from seed....and saving seeds and preserving food and living off the land is a full-time job I'm realizing. And I already have about 17 part-time jobs I have to do. Realistically, living off the land isn't going to happen any time soon. For now I am gardening to learn more about it...to grow a bit of food in my own backyard...and to practice simple living principles as they fit into my crazy life. Baby steps. Right? I figure some gardening is better than no gardening...so I take what I can get at this point.

On that note...time to water and then get ready for one of those part-time gigs!!


ThyHandHathProvided said...

So sorry to hear about your heirloom issues. As much as I, too, LOVE the idea of heirloom seeds, our budget doesn't allow it across the board, so we've bought heirloom seeds only of a couple varieties we know are easy to save seeds from and plant ourselves.

I think you're doing an amazing job. It's all about balance and knowing that it's all about balance. And you know it. Good for you:-).

Talitha said...

Goodness, you are so far ahead of many of us! I would love to start a garden, but we'll see... many things are yet undecided. The heirloom thing? Why are heirloom plants such a big deal? My dad is also focused on heirloom plants. Is it a nutritional issue? Taste? Aren't they much harder to grow? If it isn't heirloom is it always hybrid? Apparently, I have some research to do! lol

Anonymous said...

I think all gardens are going to be a bit "off" this year. I have yet to even put tomatoes in yet because we have had so much rain. take care.

Camilla~ Bloom said...

Good luck with your graden sounds like you have such a nice variety. I finally got mine in last weekend, I was planting seeds in gailforce winds and sleet. Still snow on the mountains. The potatoes and onions are sprouting...good sign.
Did something to your camera...why no photos?

Mari said...

You amaze me! The only thing I am trying to grow are some herbs in a box. The sad thing is I hardly use them, atleast currently. No time for cooking.

Thanks so much dear one, for your sweet comment and encouragement. I feel your love.

Sorry about the peppers. You and Jayme and those chickens! You are better women than I!

Love you so much!

文君 said...

Many a little makes a mickle.............................................................

Baby Mama said...

sounds like your garden is amazing! mine is growing right along too but im having a couple issues as well. no shame in the hybrids honey! do what you can, when you can. the rest will come. :) i want to start growing some edible flowers and more herbs too. i think ill buy some baby plants at the farmers market this weekend!