All the photos in this blog were taken by me. The information is taken from friends, books, magazines, conversations at nurseries, the internet and a few of my own amateur-gardener thoughts. Please feel free to share your own knowledge and experiences in the comment section that follows each posting.

Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Anyone's Guess

It's perplexing how a snail would know how to time his venture. Have you ever spent the time to actually watch how slow a snail moves? It should have been the Snail and the Tortoise, but the tortoise beat out the snail when the artists thought about book sales.  A snail has to time it's venture from some awesome hiding place all the way up the side of my vegetable boxes, into the dirt, then up the stem of a plant, out onto the leaf, EAT and then do the whole trip in reverse BEFORE the sun comes up again. That is a long distance to travel at such a slow pace. Maybe the little mollusks rev-up their motors in the evening. Several times I have gone out in the dark with a flashlight to examine the progress they are making. I rarely get to see them en-route, but I often do find them enjoying the rewards of their journey. I imagine that when they see me coming with the flashlight, they are saying, "Are you kidding me? I just got all the way up this box and now you're here?" No, I am not the smasher-type. I don't step on them and twist my ankle to grind them in the dirt like some people I know. I usually just pick them up and heftily toss them over the fence to my neighbor's open field and smirk thinking how long its going to take them to get back over the fence and  into the box. And, seriously, they must have one helluva headache after that landing, not to mention the beyond repair crack in their mollusky shell.

And then this is what I learned... I read that if you toss them over the fence, they will most likely find their way back AND if their shells are broken, the crack is able to heal over and they survive. You are SUPPOSED to crush them into the soil as they add back nutrients. Who woulda thought? Furthermore, the best method of reducing your snail population is by hand-picking them late at night or very early in the morning while things may still be covered with dew. That's right people, hand-picking! How many can we catch in a night? I have resorted to hand-picking and a sprinkling of Sluggo every now and then, when I am distraught because my entire bean seedling is gone and their silvery trail leaves its evidence singing naaa-naaa na naaa-naaa.  Pam Peirce believes that Sluggo will eventually be considered an organic method as its ingredients are not harmful to the environment. For further information from Golden Gate Gardener on snails, Sluggo and snail hunting, read here.

It's time to venture through the Trellis. If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you will notice the beautiful pink and purple flowers towering over the left side of the trellis. Make note of them, and read on...

As I've mentioned in earlier blogs, I am a tidy gardener when it comes to my vegetable beds. At least at the start of the season. Eventually, I will learn to year-round garden which would mean I'd have to tolerate a large, often yellowing, drying-out plant ending its career next to a beautiful newly planted seedling yearning for the sun. Someday I will be able to do that, but today I am going to show you all four tidy beds and their darling little ingredients. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Bed Number One:
In this bed you will find Golden Wax Bush Beans, Red Chard, Arugula, Basil Fino Verde, Early Sunshine Yellow Pepper, Ancho Poblano Pepper, Spanish Spice Pepper, Pimiento de Padron Pepper. The peppers  are now staked like the one that you can see in the picture. It's possible that the peppers will shade the Chard eventually, but we will see. The far left corner has one Black Beauty Eggplant.

Bed Number Two is the Tomato Bed. In this bed you'll find Red Siberian from Carla, San Maranzo from Carla, Yellow Pear, Early Girl and one of Liane's Tomatoes (see "The Tomato, the Mother of the Summer Garden posting for the story). 

Bed Number Three is primarily lettuces right now. I've got Green Leaf lettuce, Bib lettuce and Collard Greens. The Fanfare Cucumbers are at the far end of the bed too shaded for you to actually see them in this picture. They will grow up on lattices that are currently holding up the tail-end of the Sweet Peas. Oh, wait till I tell you my pea story. There is a  Yellow Baby Watermelon (new to my repertoire) in the front right corner that will eventually consume all the salad green's space - about when it gets too hot for lettuces anyway. 

Bed Number Four has Bull's Blood Beets (nice name, eh?), Arugula, two more tomatoes, one, Green Zebra from Love Apple Farm and another of Liane's Special tomatoes. There is a Summer Squash in the forefront, which will overtake half the bed as it matures. And three Sweet Basil plants. I will add more Basil in a couple of weeks to stagger the   production. And check out the Green Seedless Grapes on the fence! I just planted them last year and they've really taken off. 

The view of all four together. Notice the piece of wood propping something up on the left box. Now read on...

AGGRAVATION TO ADMIRATION: I planted my Sweet Peas with all the other winter vegetables. For some reason, I can't find the little plastic label that comes in the seedling pack. The one that gives you planting information. The one that some people leave right next to the plant just to drive me absolutely crazy. Why would you adorn this beautiful, organic, colorful plant with a piece of white plastic? Anyway, as I was saying, I planted the Pea, it was slow to grow, THEN it started to flower profusely with out-of-this-world pinks and purples. I even took a picture of myself in front of the thing - something I rarely do.  THEN, it started to smell wonderful. So wonderful. I kept thinking I should pick those flowers and bring that smell inside. All the while, I was wondering where in the hell is the pea? THEN it came! Flat and hairy! Flat and hairy, people. What in the world? So aggravated! I think I  somehow planted an ornamental pea and not having the little plastic thing, I couldn't confirm my hunch. Well, more than a hunch because who is going eat hairy, flat peas? THEN, I decide its time to take the Sweet Pea down. Its a gardening embarrassment. It is taking up valuable real estate and its using my lattices needed for the cucumbers pretty soon. I start to hack up the plant, vigorously peeling it off the lattice, it starts to fall over and... STOP! There is a spectacular nest in there with two adorable little, light blue and black spotted eggs. OMG! I have babies. Just like that, I am responsible for the life of two birds. I stop in my tracks, admire these eggs and wonder, "now what?".  I decide that I can't possibly tear down Mother Bird's work (And no, these are not the crow's eggs. I honestly may have felt differently). I can tell she has put in numerous hours making this nest. She even found a piece of my paper towel and brought it back to her nest. Ahhh, and to think that my used paper towel will comfort my new babies. So Jeff and I carefully reconstructed the now bramble of a pea and drove support stakes into the soil so won't fall over and break the eggs.
We were worried that our human scent may deter Mother Bird, but Jeff saw her fly out of the nest! She is back. She is being a good Mother Bird to my two new babies. Am I going to actually see these little darlings all hatched? Or is a raccoon going to find them for breakfast? Or, are they too exposed to the elements now and they are going to fry? Oh geez, I didn't just say that. Fried eggs. No, I didn't mean that. I will keep you in the loop of the many goings-on out there. Its anyone's guess. 

Gardening Tip: Always keep those annoying plastic labels. OR, make sure to write down the exact names of everything you plant. This year, I am keeping the labels in a plastic bag. I just shove them all in there and include a piece of paper that reads, "Summer 2010". It doesn't seem like you really need to do it, until you can't remember what in the heck you planted! And believe me, that WILL happen. 

Garden Gossip:  Word has it that 1000 Redworms are being delivered to my house tomorrow. Next week's posting will feature the Worm Box and the Worm Delivery. I bet you can't wait. 

1 comment:

  1. "Sweet Peas" are some of my favorite flowers. I have had light pinks and whites that are so beautiful. Right now I am just finishing off some volunteer DARK purple ones that have been growing in my yard the past 5 years or so. The more you cut them and bring them in to perfume your home, the more prolifically they bloom.
    Let them seed in an ideal place and they'll go crazy.
    BTW, I think my snail population has doubled it's former high this spring because of our nice moist weather. Not a fan.


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