Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shouldn't we be eating some of this by now?

We seem to be in sort of a food hiatus as far as my plants are concerned.  I've got a couple more strawberries before the wildlife did (shocking, really!), the raspberry canes are settling in nicely (and spreading) and producing an occasional berry - I've yet to get any of those before the animal kingdom.  Asparagus seems happy and the stalks keep getting thicker; I should probably start adding dirt back to the not-really-a-trench situation in which they're growing.  We have had 4 cucumbers and there is a visible eggplant fruit, and the zucchini keeps producing small fruits that aren't turning into giants overnight - they haven't reached pickable size yet, strange as that seems.  Everything else is sort of a work-in-progress; things look promising, but we aren't able to eat just yet.

We're setting up for an interesting battle next year in one of the asparagus squares.  The raspberries are starting to send up shoots there - which was okay until a couple of days ago, as that was the square where I had one asparagus shoot that got about 1" tall, then dried up and died.  For weeks, nothing.  Now that the raspberries want to move in, two reasonably thick shoots suddenly appear.  I'll let them work it out; that's how it works in nature, right?  And if my perennial box becomes an unregulated wilderness of mixed berries and asparagus, no rhyme or reason to it, I can live with that as long as harvesting doesn't become a jungle adventure or require elbow-length leather gauntlets.  But I have to say, I never read anything about asparagus being quite this weird.  They should put a warning on the package: "Unpredictable behavior - don't give up too soon!"  Maybe that's why they make you wait a couple of years before expecting to eat anything.

Once we pulled the shell peas out, I got some mature-er vegetable seedlings from the local garden center (free, too, if you can believe it; they were doomed to be thrown out two days after we got them!) - mostly tomatoes, with romas and one yellow tomato; and an ancho pepper plant for my daughter who wants it for salsa-making.  They're all lined up between the pea vine support wires - probably not the perfect tomato cage substitute, but I'm hopeful that it'll work.  They also have red mulch to encourage them.  I'm seeing new tomato flowers, so there's hope.

For reasons that they understand and are not telling me, the canteloupes are actually climbing the cages I put them in this year.  I think that's a good sign; they're vigorous, at least.  And some of the wilting flowers are at the end of marble-sized spheres; we could get melons from them.

The original tomatoes are now nearly taller than I am - that is, three of the original four are.  The fourth, poor thing, the one that was stifled under the wall-o-water, is still only about three inches tall.  The barrel that originally had the more closed-up wall-o-water is home to taller plants with a lot more fruit; I sure hope I remember that next spring!

And we have grapes - reachable grapes growing down from the top of the trellis for the first time.  I think we'll have the advantage over the squirrels this year, even on the white Himrod grapes which they have consistently demolished.  I see jelly in my future, conveniently ignoring the fact that I have two gallon-sized ziploc bags of grape juice in my freezer from previous harvests - and a bunch of unopened jars of jelly.  Maybe I should try winemaking this year.

Recently, we've been working on non-food yard projects.  We have a patio going in in the front yard, requiring plants to move into a new bed (nothing like transplanting in the heat of July to give you a firm conviction that your thumb is brown - if ANYTHING survives that process, it will be a miracle!).  I cleaned out the roses, which were being overtaken by Canadian thistles and crabgrass, and gave them a top-dressing of mushroom compost.  We have pulled out a butterfly garden that was getting overgrown, and returned it to lawn.  It's been pretty busy, really.  And with all of the extra watering to get the sod going, the lawn looks as good this year as it ever has.  I think I will try to water the daylights out of my transplants, if I can find a way to get to them without relying on human memory (we're very fond of timers at my house).

Here's hoping that we start seeing some produce in volume (and variety!) soon!

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