Saturday, July 25, 2009

progress update: bad news, good news

All right. The morning rounds in the garden provided me some good news, and some bad news. Let's get to the bad news first.


I don't know who you are, but they were just finally blooming and maybe going to give me some pickling cukes. Oh, the blossoms are still left. BUT NO LEAVES. There were leaves yesterday. There were lots of leaves yesterday. There are NONE this morning. Mystery animal that eats cucumber plant leaves, you are on notice. If I find you, you will be sorry. I have the feeling you are not sorry now.

Also, my tomatoes seem to be taking this cold, wet weather particularly hard, and don't even get me started on the single pepper plant that has managed to make it out of seedlinghood. It seems to have stalled just past that stage.

Good news, though!

I am going to have more tomatillos than I know what to do with. And the beans are growing! I may even have a few to take with me for lunch today. And the pumpkins! I'm going to have pumpkins, even with this bizarre weather. The pumpkin plants are going nuts, and there are two healthy looking pumpkins so far, and tonnes of blossoms. The buttercup squash seems less enthusiastic, but it's still trucking along. I noticed two honeybees doing their thing in the flowers this morning, and it was fun to watch.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

squash blossom

I was doing the morning rounds in the garden -- I tend to do this while my tea is steeping, before I come up here to the computer to check email -- and discovered that the squash has started to bloom. It's a perfect blossom, bright yellow, and unexpected. I thought I might expect blossoms this weekend, not as early as today.

If I had to pick a favourite plant for the vegetable garden, it might be squash. I love tomatoes, and always feel good about my herbs and the garlic. But it's squash that has a special place in my heart. It's the treasure hunt. I love the great, curly, crazy vines, and the hidden little squash plants at the base of the flowers; I love watching them grow over the course of the summer from flower to itty bitty squash to full-blown-keep-me-in-the-cold-cellar-for-the-winter big squashes. This is the first time since I was a kid that I've grown squash in my own garden, and I am absolutely thrilled with it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

mulchy dilemma

In preparation for a wedding shower to be hosted here this Saturday, we've been working on the garden. It has just occurred to me that I should have taken before-and-after shots; maybe I'll do that for the front yard, despite the embarrassment of the before shots. Guys, our garden is big. It's really big. And when you get lackadaisical about mulching, like we have been for the past two years, the weeding is... challenging. Daunting, even.

We've done the first pass on everything in the back yard, and a couple of the beds (the one around the oak tree, the middle bed, the small bed at the entrance to the yard) are shower-ready. The rest needs another go-over. This is most of it, by the way. Luckily, I have cousins coming to help tomorrow morning, for which they will be both paid in cash and paid in strawberry shortcake. Because it will be a huge help.

My problem with mulching is that I have to get the mulch. I have to either purchase it, which can get very expensive for the number of beds we have, or I have to get it from the landfill, which gives mulch away for free, but you have to shovel it. Also, there's not much left at this time of year. And I would need containers for it -- and two years ago we had containers. I had five large Rubbermaid containers full, and that still wasn't enough to cover the gardens, and that is two trips in the car to the landfill, besides. Thus you can also see the problem with producing enough compost ourselves to mulch, although fishy's gone a long way to helping that with the creation of a 4'x4'x4' yardwaste cage in the back yard, which is currently full to the top of weeds (and likely weed seed, sigh.)

And I know that mulching is better for the garden. I know the plants could use the nutrients provided by a good compost mulch. We did purchase mushroom compost for the garlic bed, which I'll be putting out tomorrow with the small helpers. But what's a girl to do? Every garden magazine and book talks about the benefits of mulch to the plants, for weed suppression, for wildlife; but I just can't get enough. I guess we'll either have to suck it up and purchase, or make several trips to the landfill, or be more serious about composting, or something. Or maybe just fill in parts of the beds with big stones, which is a hell of a mulch. Or someone could tell me how to make proper leaf mold, which I haven't yet been able to do.