Arrr, y'all

2012 Fall Garden Update! Because You Care!

The freezer is filled with blanched beet greens, kale and rainbow chard, beets and roma tomatoes for this winter’s chili. I have some little onions in the pantry, and Spring’s garlic cloves are now planted in the garden. We ate a bunch of snow and snap peas, and I tried to save some out to plant for a Fall crop, but they never came up. In the Spring we enjoyed lots of mulberries, some nice handfuls of raspberries and a few little strawberries. Next season the raspberries should really take off, and will be joined by blackberries and black raspberries. I’ll know better next year how to keep the strawberries happy, so should get more.
I grew sunflowers this year for the first time! They were not the mammoth ones I was expecting (after all, the packet said “Mammoth”) but they were lovely and cheerful. I let the cilantro go to seed; did you know that it turns into coriander? My spice cabinet is filled with rosemary, basil, oregano, coriander and mint. I dried some raspberry leaves too, for tea. We’ve eaten plenty of pesto and the Sunny garden is filled with basil still to be harvested and dried. The parsley all goes to my mom-in-law Betty for tabouli, on the condition that she shares some with me. I just never have a use for dried parsley. If you want some, let me know. Just don’t tell Betty.

The vine borers were hard at work again this year. I grew one super-size zucchini (currently cut up in the freezer) but that was it- the vines all died. The borers also got my pumpkins again. I have one huge, long vine, maybe twenty feet long, that got big before the borers got into it, so it’s still alive. We’ll see how long it lives. I tried a spray this year that the guy said would be fine in an organic garden. It didn’t work, obviously. I’m about ready to give up on pumpkins and squash, which makes me sad, but I just don’t have time to sit out in the garden every day with a shish kebab skewer and tin foil. Don’t ask.

The squirrels were also hard at work this year. I’ve had problems with the back acre’s wild bunnies, Juicyflower and Nibbles, in the past, but somebody’s cat is one hell of a rabbit hunter – possibly Donut, belonging to Bob upstairs. Or it could be Balls the orange tomcat, terror of the neighborhood. In the good old days Bob (cat, not neighbor) would bring me bits and pieces of rabbits, squirrels, moles, you name it, but ever since he got ancient all he does is sleep in the driveway and make the cars go around him through the lawn.

Anyway. Squirrels. The cats get the rabbits, but don’t seem interested in squirrels. Two in particular I’ve named Roma and Better Boy, after the tomato varieties they prefer to steal. Mo had better boys growing in a side garden, which helped me a lot, because that kept the squirrels’ attention away from MY tomatoes. I don’t think Mo harvested even one red tomato off those plants. The day came, however, when I saw Roma scuttling up the honeysuckle tree carrying – damn her! – one of MY green romas! I scooped up a handful of driveway gravel and flung it (not hard, I just wanted to scare her), and of course only ended up hitting my car with gravel. She scurried out of my reach while I shook my fists at her and yelled, not realizing that Bob (the neighbor) was upstairs on his porch, probably wondering why the hell I was yelling at him. I stopped yelling at squirrels in public after that.

In fact, I’ve got so many roma plants out there in the tomato jungle that I realized I’ve got enough to share. They can have some too. I’ve made peace with Roma and Better Boy.

Today I planted a few beds of rainbow chard, romaine and garlic. That’s all, because that’s all the seeds/bulbs I have left. Anybody in Lebanucky have kale seeds I can borrow?

The cosmos, zinnias and dahlias are growing like crazy, though we’ll see how they do after tonight, if that light frost they’re predicting comes through. I’ve never seen flowers grow like cosmos. They spread like crabgrass, and really thought they were the boss of the garden this summer. They decided to spread fragrant orange cheer all over the lettuce beds. A bunch got pulled and the rest got moved into a well-established annuals bed today, and hopefully the zinnias will keep them in line til we get a hard frost.

My favorite part of the Fall garden is the vining plants section. I’ve got a long row of sweet potatoes, which I can now see have grown so large as to peek up through the soil. I’m very excited to dig them, later in the season; it’s like Christmas to see how many and what shapes and sizes have grown over the summer.

The gods did not, however, favor the rest of the vining plants. In the row next to the sweets I planted watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchinis and cukes. The cukes died quick, probably because the seeds were like 100 years old. I got one tiny cantaloupe that rolled off the vine and rotted and got eaten by bugs, then the vine died. All the little watermelons but one got the rot and their vines died. I have one watermelon left, small but growing, not rotting, and I’m all but praying for it to live, dammit, live! And we know what happened to the zucchinis. It’s a learning process. If I could spend all my days researching how to grow things, and then put that knowledge into practice, I’d have a stellar garden. Instead I’m learning by killing shit. I kill it, then I find out what I did to kill it, then I try not to do that thing next time around. That’s just how I roll.

And that concludes this garden report. Urban homesteaders rule!

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