Sunday, June 15, 2008

State of the Garden - 15 June 2008

It's been a few weeks since I posted but for once I have good reason! I was gone for a week on business, which turns out to be a hot topic for my garden, and then we had Jordan's graduation. Anyway, don't for a moment think that I forgot my garden during all this to-doing.

Everything was growing like crazy the last week of May. Dozens of tomatoes growing, carrots coming ripe as well as beets and the peas were getting harvested. Bush beans making their tiny little selves known for the future and peppers a blooming.

Well, no more of that.

Not to say I'm blaming anyone, because I'm not at all. One of my sisters took care of my garden while I was gone and I really thought I explained well, but apparently not. She drowned all my plants with severe overwatering. I came home to find exploded tomato stems, rotten roots, drowned foliage all yellow and diseased looking. It was horrible. I did keep a good face on it and not scream and shout about the months of labor down the tubes.

In a way, it is my fault. I took her out to show her what a deep watering looked like and told her to do a deep watering on Wednesday. I also said, and here is where I went wrong, to give them a shot of water if they looked droopy before Wednesday. Urgh. Somehow that translated to pouring gallon after gallon onto each one every day.

She finally told me on Thursday and I said don't water anymore so I did have time to compose myself for the sight.

Anyway, it is my bad. Here is what some of the carnage looks like even now, a week later. Via massive surgery on some I was able to save many of the indeterminate ones, but all the determinates like Roma, for canning of sauces so crucial this year, are done for.

Also, Boscoe came home with a bad limp. It started to get a bit better after a few days and I asked her about it since she didn't say anything about an injury when I came home. She did relate that he fell hard on a curb. It has started to get worse again and he appears to be having a issue keeping his leg under him. It wants to splay to the side so I'm thinking he may have seriously damaged or even broken a hip. We are going to vet for x-rays.

Gigi also came home looking so bloated it was shocking. I thought she was just getting overfed since the feeding instructions weren't followed well, but rather doubled. But that night I got a disgusting shock. I came in to wake them in the morning and found the room covered with dark red puke and a bit of bright blood. And in that puke what did I find? Two complete, if a bit digested, plastic grocery bags. Ack! She looked bloated no longer. It was about 6 square feet of it all told. I watched her and she was back to her perky self so I'm pretty sure she is fine.

You might say to yourself, I can't complain since she did me a favor. And you'd be right. It was about 100 bucks less than the boarding and the housesitter would have been since I only gave her 20 bucks a day. I didn't really think the housesitter would know about the garden and I was worried Boscoe would be unhappy being boarded. (Of ocurse, the X-rays alone are going to be over $300, so....)

Nonetheless, I have learned a valid lesson. Write all instructions down. Follow up daily with detailed phone calls.

You might also ask yourself if she might not see this. And to this I say, not bloody likely. We live in the same town so why would she read about it? She's not very interested in my gardening anyway.

No, I'm not bitter. ::laughs:: Oh, I'll get over it, I always do eventually. And then I'm shocked anew when it happens again!

Needless to say, that is why I didn't post a "State of the Garden" when I came back. It was too depressing. But now, a week of hard work and delicate surgery and it is starting to come back as much as can be expected. And there is even good news. One of the tomatoes on the least affected plant has, as of just this evening, got a distinct blush upon it. I fully expect to have nice ripe tomato shortly.

I have no intention of sharing it.

Here is a close up of some of the plants in the pot area. One eggplant in particular is quite large, much more so than the others, and has a plentitude of blooms going. You can see in the back row the twisted remains of the supersteaks, which are not going to make it, and a couple of limping romas.

And below you can see the early results of the greatly disorganized Brandywine experiment. The blooms weren't taking for those, even though I had great large tomatoes on others. Though I did find out from a helpful person on the Homesteading board that they tend to take when it gets a bit hotter, I also heard some responses that made me wonder about positioning. So I staked and suckered some as normal, caged and didn't sucker a couple and then let a couple sprawl. It turns out the one sprawling is starting to get more blooms and they are taking much better.

Here is bed one. You can see it has recovered pretty well. Given that it gets the most sun it seems to have weathered the waterfest better. You may be able to see the tops of the big tomato plants are twisted and upturned from the overwatering, but a bit of pruning and it appears to be bouncing back. I had to rip up the peas and I've planted more bush beans. The existing bush beans dropped most of their blooms but the ones already growing kept doing so and I did get a few off of them. I will be finishing that harvest and ripping them up soon. Beets have been mostly harvested and most of the carrots there too. That bed is about to go through some changes soon!

Here are a few of the nice big carrots I harvested this evening. Burpee Sweet Treat Hybrid and they are a nice tasting carrot! But what are those bumps on the bottoms? I just scrub them off as of now and I've noticed nothing wrong, but they are a big and freaky looking. Are those just places that would produce roots?

And here is a close up of the surviving tomatoes. It was that bottom one that showed a blush this evening, just a few hours after this photo was taken.

Here is bed 2, which didn't fare as well. The tomatoes and pole beans in the back row are goners but I'm still hesitating on pulling them up after all the work. Ah well, such is life, I'll do it this week. I'm starting to see a small head inside the largest cauliflower plant too. I've brushed the onion tops to the side a bit since they are starting to flop, but I'm harvesting them too and they are quite mellow and delicous. The red onion sets I'm growing are doing well and as soon as I read up a bit more I'll process them for planting next year.

My little side bed here is definitely showing some progress! Zucchini and yellow squash as well as the butternut are starting to zoom up. Good thing too! The stevia is working wonderfully and I've discovered the key to keeping it healthy is actually cutting it severely. Amazing stuff. Herbs doing well there also.

And here is a problem. The one item that is doing puzzling things are the peppers. All of them are dropping their blossoms after you can see the bud of the pepper in there. I have no idea why. They are getting the right light, not too hot and they clearly fertilizing since it is a bud of the fruit that is dropping off. Any ideas? Is it just a reaction to the week of overwatering that will pass?

And finally, bed 3. The soybeans were a loss as well about half the bush bean plants. The other half are limping along and some have a few paltry beans but I'm going to give those a shot before pulling them up. The tomatoes were hard hit but surgery has possibly saved them. One of them has a decent load of tomatoes so I worked hard on that one.

Here is a close up of the back showing some of the tomatoes on that plant and the pea twining through it. I've extended spring in this bed by planting it where I did. It gets some residual cooling from the vent under the house and the sun hits it just right and misses the scorching noon hours. So, peas are still rampantly blooming and setting.

In other non-food news, my mutant hostas are large and definitely in charge, while the flowers are blooming for the early summer and the late summer ones are green and growing a good base foliage.

My gardenia smells heavenly and opening the front door means a wall of the sweetest scent hits you.

These are just some random shots of the really pretty flowers blooming in my front bed.

To bring us back to the world of the practical, here is one of my water barrels, about half full, after just 3 days of drip from the AC unit. It isn't very elegant, but it works. I'm getting a funnel to put in there so that I'll lose less to the wind. I've already used a great many gallons of it and it is still half full. While the AC is costing me a fortune, at least I get some nice clean garden water for it!

And here I am, getting ready to see Jordan graduate! It was good to know she did it and that I had a lot to do with the girl she has become.

And here is my Boscoe, who is on enforced rest, taking it easy in the garden while I work. What a handsome devil he is, even when he is in discomfort.

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