In Transition

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday, September 7

The raised beds, large pots, Earthboxes and Incredible Raining Garden where we grow vegetables and a   few herbs have all taken to the challenge in about equal measure. Eggplants are still making and Tabasco peppers are just coming into their own. They start out yellow, then turn orange and finally red. The peppers form at every leaf axil on long stems, so their early effect gives the impression of a spray of waxy yellow birthday candles atop green frosting. Ok, so I’m near sighted, but like Monet, that’s what I see. There are so many habanero peppers I am beginning to see the squat orange bombs painted with tiny jack-o-lantern faces. The bad news here may be that I have a black sharpie pen and I know how to use it.

Both newly planted and rejuvenated tomatoes left from the spring are in bloom and showing no further signs of the July dance with blight. Two sprays of neem seem to have done the job. Cucumbers started from seed in early August and transplanted two weeks later have almost reached the climbing point. Soon they’ll replace the spring cukes and bear until frost. Their vines run up a metal trellis recycled from old couch springs. Beyond that, hairpin fence takes over, supporting until recently a lemon cucumber that up and died last Sunday. Further on, one luffa gourd has formed and the vines have jumped from the fence into the hackberry tree in the scruffy row of shrubs and trees along the property line. Finally, a good use for that hackberry. I’m not as horrified by them as some are, and indeed love the hackberry butterfly that seeks it out. But there are so many that any allowed to remain must have a mission, like the one nearly covered in magnificent trumpet vine. 

Collards just don’t look right. It’s not just the holes from an early insect feeding, but the color is a light green and the leaf texture is wrong for the Georgia variety, even at this young stage. Cauliflowers look less ready to grow but haven’t wilted, and broccoli is standing tall with a few new sprouts appearing since they were planted last week. Transplants showed no signs of shock and have started growing with watering once a day and misting once or twice depending on how windy the day proves to be.

We’ve just started more cole crops out in the inground food plot. Lots more broccoli, some cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage destined for that space. A young fig died last week, probably delayed damage from the winter like the Satsuma tree – a much larger loss to my taste buds. Now that we’re moving back out into that space on the acre, it’s time to deal with the huge compost heap made from last year’s leaves and lots of other plant debris that had to be removed in the wake of cold January. The pile is 6’ long, 4’ wide and 3’ tall, not ideal for decomposition, but it works eventually. Grass clippings and the end of a bark mulch pile have long since become unrecognizable and the pile is sprouting. Unfortunately, some of it is weeds, so I’ll have to pull those before turning the pile. More important are the refugee plants – those that have resurrected themselves from frozen rootballs in the warmth of the compost pile: variegated airplane plants and, lo and behold, 6 leaves of a night-blooming cereus. Now that’s a good day in the garden.


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When do I prune my Oleander bushes? They are getting out of control.
GMama Says

Best to prune those oleanders after their first flush of bloom in late spring. If you live south of New Orleans or in a similar environment, you'll see folks pruning oleander almost all the time and that's fine, too, if winters are predictably mild.

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