You forget what it was like. In April and even in May I was fretting that the garden wasn’t looking good, that things weren’t coming back, that I’d ruined things.

Grape arbor, May 17. OMG DID I PRUNE IT TOO MUCH? WHERE IS MY SHADE??

 

Grape arbor, June 11, just before I had to cut it back again.

May 17, will there be ANY grapes this year?!

June 19, grapes coming in.

May 17, north bed still a mess from winter.

June 19, north bed planted with peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and mulched.

Center garden in bloom May 17, lavender on right of plot, patchy thyme, beans just planted along fence.

June 11, lavender explosion!, thyme filled in, beans starting to climb along the fence.

 

So, don’t forget to take pictures, kids!

 

and we’re back!

April 12, 2012

Spring, yay! Endless, hard garden chores… no so yay. Nevertheless, it is the resurrection time of year, and we do well to remember it.

Some winter renovations: we severely pruned back the grape vine in February when it was dormant:

Last summer, as you will recall, we began to feel the grapevine was getting out of hand. It not only grew all over the place in my yard, but it began to colonize the next door yard, and it grew all over Mateo’s garden and into Crest Garden Center (they did not manage to sell it, however). After consulting with some of the Italian sages in the neighborhood who have beautiful grape arbors, I learned that you want to prune your grapes way back in the winter, leaving only a few longitudinal branches. I’m not yet confident of my efforts, but hopefully the vine will come back better. This is how much stuff we pruned:

This is the stuff after we broke it down and bundled it up (hard task. took two mornings’ chore time!), and yes, that is the blackberry vine leafing along the fence:

The perennial garden is coming back – some of the thyme made it, but some didn’t. That lovely blue plant on the far left is phlox. And look at how big the lavender is getting on the right:

The tomato beds are finally cleared of grapevine debris and weeds and should get planted pretty soon:

Here is what happened to the broccoli that I never got around to picking, oops:

 

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?!

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.