Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Intermittent Gardener

I can either garden responsibly or travel. I can't seem to do both during growing season. After being away for only a few days, I returned to find that my little garden had nearly gotten away from me.

It seemed my radishes had exploded.

And my container tomatoes, which had looked great when I left, are showing signs of nitrogen deficiency.

Still, things are coming along. The little peppers are Cubanelle. I need to do something about the uneven, over-crowded, unruly carrots.

I gave the container tomatoes a shot of liquid fish. They ought to look better in few days, and they are making fruit.
These are Bush Early Girls.

These are Better Bush, another indeterminate variety that does very well in containers.

My Anaheim peppers are doing well in a container. They aren't the nitrogen hogs that tomatoes are. My daughter Sarah and her boyfriend were eyeing them today. They both love hot, spicy things. I warned them. I expect missing peppers any day now.

Some thinning in the raised bed yielded this little bunch of radishes - cherry bell and white icicle.

Then, there's the embarrassing Left Bed. Note the paltry pole beans and ridiculous, lonesome pepper plant. Evidently, when I switched from engineering to full-time writing I lost the ability to count. That extra pepper plant had to go somewhere.

The poor beans - Kentucky Wonders, which grow well nearly everywhere - got off to a very late start, thanks to your intermittent and distracted gardener who happened to be struggling with an article deadline. Then, evidently believing that the Intermittent Gardener had sown the beans at an insufficient depth, a certain elderly beagle belonging to a certain inattentive daughter tromped them in a good bit deeper.
Worse yet, I broke an ancient taboo and sowed onions close to the beans. I thought I could get away with it. After all, I left a generous buffer area, and besides, I had never heard or read a scientific explanation of why one oughtn't plant onions close to beans. My parents' explanation, "Beans and onions aren't good neighbors," wasn't sufficient. Who really knew? Dad and Mom, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and others who planted and tended our family garden had never tried planting the two close together because everyone knew that you just didn't do that. Was it a matter of taste or did the plants not grow well together? Nobody seemed to know.
(Why oh why didn't I pay more attention to these dear folks, watch them more closely instead of mindlessly doing what I was told? They knew how to garden. I never ate store-bought vegetables until I went away to college. Now they've all passed on, and I don't remember how Dad built his tomato ladders.)
Anyway, I broke the taboo. Of course my onions did poorly and my beans developed some kind of nasty rust and stopped growing. Sure, the unusually wet spring could have been the culprit, but I felt the wrath of my ancestors. I ripped out the stunted onions and the worst of the beans. A dose of compost tea, followed by a helping of liquid fish and seaweed a couple of weeks later seems to have revived the remaining beans. I worked in an inch of compost where the onions had been. After another week's rest, I'll sow some more beans. We have plenty of growing season left. We'll see.
Thank goodness Jane rarely checks this blog. If she knew I had been out back photographing our little kitchen garden, I'd never hear the end of it.


Matt Mullenix said...

What is this "liquid fish" of which you speak?

Pay no mind to the wifely naysayers: mine rolls her eyes at my gardening but then brags in public that "we" grow our own salads.

She is secretly on board with the project.

Henry Chappell said...

Matt, "liquid fish," is exactly that. I have no idea how they make it, but it's a great way to give your plants a very quick shot of nitrogen. I get mine at my hardware store. Nowadays, given the interest in organic gardening, I suspect that Lowes carries it.

I get the same eye rolling but Jane is happy to eat the vegetables.

Gregg Barrow said...

The garden looks great.

“I gave the container tomatoes a shot of liquid fish”

Soo purchased hers over the internet, but it’s nice to know that she can get it local.

She was admiring her efforts when I picked up an aroma coming from the west side of the property. Unaware of the fact that she had just fertilized some of the plants I mentioned that our property smelled like Clearwater Beach during the red tide.

I’m learning to keep my comments to myself.

Henry Chappell said...

Gregg, I have to watch Cate and Maggs after I've applied a dose of liquid fish. They want roll in it.