building the family up

September 19, 2011

We had a terrible time last week because Scout, our Irish Wolfhound, died.

She had a long life for a wolfhound (9 years, 4 months), but it was just awful. Now the family is down to just us two.

We have had a hard time doing much besides crying and feeling lost in our now too-big house. But, as my mom said, you just have to build your family back up again. We’re looking for a puppy, and there’s not much we can do about the human side, but it’s never a bad time to build up the family outside.

We got two lovely little heather plants and put them in some pots that were waiting for something special. They’re hardy and semi-evergreen, so hopefully they’ll do well.

While I was next door at Crest getting the heather plants, Guru Vincent asked after the plant pockets and wondered if we might find a home in them for a couple of sad little succulents they couldn’t sell. Adoption immediate!

Unknown how they’ll do, but they sure look cute now.


Thanks, Vincent!

The hardy mums from last year are blooming again, bless ’em:

We hope, believe, and see that death is not the final answer.

cute little pockets

September 6, 2011

How much do I love my mom? Impossible to say cuz is so much! Last week I sent her the link (h/t Regina @ Crest) to this couple who were “plant bombing” their neighborhood (San Francisco, I think?). She knits, he deals with plants. Sunday, I get up to the country (Mom’s place in Duchess County) and up in my bedroom, what do I find?

 

Can you believe it? The plants here are in little pots, and since we’re not sure whether they are hardy, I’ve decided to keep them inside. I took them home and put them up in the bathroom, where my aloe and Christmas cactus have been thriving for years. Here they are in their new homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think that pipe is a steam pipe, though, so I’m probably going to have to move those guys. Mom whipped up a couple more pockets for me to fill with dirt and try outside, so tomorrow (if the rain stops) I’m going to appropriate some hearty succulents from my plantings.

In other news, there was another batch of figs, so I tried some fig cookies that were like fig newtons but with fresh figs. Yes, yes, yes.

fall planting

September 1, 2011

I’ve never planted a second harvest before, but this year I decided to give it a try because 1) Crest is currently flogging some fall vegetable seedlings that look really cute in the container they planted; 2) the purple beans pretty much gave up in the heatwave last month, so I decided to evict them and see if someone else could put out for me. Compared to my trauma over the potential loss of the grapes, this strikes me as a more robust attitude towards death in the garden.

Having consulted, of course, with Guru Vincent, Guru Regina, and Guru Clark, I decided to try some broccoli and brussels sprouts here, in the former purple-bean-bed:

The bigger brussels sprout plant towards the front is one I grew from seed this spring. I’ve never had luck with brussels sprouts from seed, and really this one isn’t all that much farther along than the new seedlings. Obviously, it was a mistake to try seeds in the spring when they’re really a fall plant. It remains to be seen if there’s enough heat left in the season to grow these guys.

I also got one of the felt containers from Crest and used it for some kale (center) and collards (ringing round).

This is also the time to get your out-of-bloom perennials on sale. I took a Culver’s Root plant for the perennial garden, to give the center a little height next summer.

And a Pagodatree bush, which I put in one of the cool pots I got on sale at Paley’s this summer.

Otherwise, the late planted potatoes seem to be on track for a late fall harvest:

The tomato beds are chaotic and wild:

Those basil seedlings are looking good:

But some of the creeping thyme (mostly the wooly thyme) has not thrived, boo:

It’s pretty close to where I tore out the beans, so maybe it will get the hint and shape up. If not, I have plenty of other creeping thyme wot I will transplant over there. Hear?!

they come in purple

July 10, 2011

This year I tried some bush beans that said they were purple. I stuck the seeds in the ground at the end of May, and up they came. The flowers are purple:

And, lo, the beans are purple!

They have a green heart (insert politically snappy simile) and they turn green when you cook them. The taste, for the record, is normal, not purple flavor.

death tolerance

July 3, 2011

One of the worst things about growing stuff is having to deal with the fact that some things die. It might be something you did, but just as often it’s the conditions or the location. If you’re going to enjoy the miracle of things making it through a winter like this:

Then you have to deal with things that you love failing to thrive. I do not like dealing with this. I think it is a swiz.

One of the most vigorous, prolific plants in my garden is the grape vine. M planted it as a little stick from Crest Hardware a few weeks before he died. Last summer it moved up onto a pergola some friends built for me.

Even in the burning heat of July 2010, it produced over 35 pounds of grapes–green, seedless, sweet, crush-against-the-roof-of-your-mouth.

This spring and summer, it has continued to go hog-wild, despite strong pruning.
Grapes appeared everywhere, to the point that I began to feel a little panicked about how I would harvest them all. Finally I decided I would have a grape-picking party and invite everyone I knew. People could bring containers, clippers, ladders, beers, whatever. Everyone would get grapes, and I wouldn’t have to do all the work. Now all I had to do was wait for the grapes to ripen. Problem solved!

Except two weeks ago I noticed that a few grapes had shriveled. I began to feel a deep secret dread that my grapes had some kind of rot. It took me almost a week to make myself go out there and actually examine them. Sure enough, they have a fungal problem.
Trying not to freak out, I consulted the internets, but most of what I read was targeted towards vineyards and thus was overkill for a one-vine home grower like me. Finally, I consulted the gurus at Crest.

Should I cut off all the infected grape bunches?! I asked. Guru Vincent didn’t think much of this idea. He suggested I just leave them alone and salvage what I could at harvest. It was the warm, damp weather, he said. Even if I cut off every bit of fungus I could find, there was nothing saying more wouldn’t grow if conditions favored it. But maybe, he said, the weather would improve, and then some grapes would make it. I’m a pretty lazy gardener, he confessed. I’d just leave it.

I consulted Guru Regina, and she concurred. You can’t fight the weather, she reasoned. I stood with Regina beside the gaffer tape and summarized: So, I said, you’re saying I should just let the grapes be, watching some die and hoping death won’t overcome all of them?

Pretty much, Regina said.

So, I clarified, this is a DEATH TOLERANCE exercise?

Pretty much, Regina said.

If I had know my garden was going to give me a Death Tolerance exercise this summer, I woulda… well I woulda told it where to go! I woulda kicked it with my boots and showed it who was boss! And then…! I guess it woulda done what it was going to do anyway.

garlic harvest

July 2, 2011

This was one of those ignorant experiments. Last fall I took a clove of garlic from the grocery store, broke it apart, and planted the cloves in the ground. This March, the garlic came up with the early bulbs and chives. I had forgotten what I’d planted there, but after a while it came to me.

I more or less ignored it. People said “you’ll know” when it’s time to harvest it. Eventually, I consulted the world library and watched a video on harvesting garlic and so decided it was time now.

The cloves are pretty small, which I think is because I didn’t water them. To be fair, it was a very wet spring here, but still there were lots of times they needed water and didn’t get it. I have no idea how they’ll taste compared to supermarket garlic or how long they’ll last, but they are hanging up to “cure” now.

Next spring, I will water.


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