Category Archives: Can't Wait To Eat That Monkey

Kids — They Grow Up So Fast

So it seems like just yesterday we were wringing our hands in a state of constant parental worry about whether our tomato plants were going to survive. First we forgot to plant them altogether, so they got a late start that basically assured they’d never get into an Ivy League school. Then we planted them outside immediately before an unseasonably cold and rainy stretch, making it impossible for them to grow big enough to make a varsity sports team. Then it got unseasonably hot and dry, so our little plants got limp and lank and so unattractive that they would never be able to get a good job. It was horrible. We reached our nadir a few weeks ago, basically admitting to each other that we suspected this year’s garden was going to be one big, huge bust. Why couldn’t it be more like last year’s garden? Or the one before that? Those were great gardens, with big crops that could make a parent proud. What was wrong with this one? Was it a changeling?

But the great thing about gardening is that if you have sun and water, it’s really hard to screw up. Nature wants things to grow, yo. And just after we hit rock bottom we stepped outside, took a gander at the beds, and realized that our garden had turned a corner. Our babies were growing up. Our tomatoes, every last one, were sporting wee little green fruits. Here’s a family portrait of our children:

Family Portrait

We have a wide array of shapes and sizes growing out there — from left to right, top to bottom we’re looking at Red Pears, Tiny Tim, Cherokee Purple, Brown Betty, Rose de Berne, Blondkopfchen, Rosso Sicilian, Lemon Drop, German Green, Lemon Drop again, Fox Cherry, and Isis Candy Shop. The only one we’ve grown before is the Fox (an enormous and almost comically productive [and scrumptious] cherry tomato that was last year’s biggest hit), so we’re really excited about having a whole rainbow of tomato options. Now that they’re all fruiting up, it’s fair to say that while they might not be the most perfect plants ever (we have a bit of a bacterial speck issue, but then, we always do), we love them just the way they are.

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Filed under 7. July, Can't Wait To Eat That Monkey

Let The Yardfun Begin!

This past week was the first totally beautiful week of the year that wasn’t weirdly out-of-season, and we had high hopes for spending our evenings approaching the spring yardfun at a leisurely pace. Of course, I developed a cold on Monday, and since our yardfun was going to be a three-person job, we ended up spending our evenings taking long, restorative naps instead. Sadly, this meant that we had tons of yardfun to do this weekend, with no leisure to be found anywhere. The life of the gentlewoman farmer is hard, yo!

So, what was on the docket? First up, we had to take the straw off all the beds in the garden.

State of the Garden April 3 2010

You can see a big black garbage bin in among our herb pots between the beds in that picture; that’s where we’re growing potatoes this summer. We’ve got two bins, and they needed to be prepped for planting. That meant poking holes in them, putting in a layer of rocks (or, in our case, the bits of pots that broke this winter), putting in a layer of straw for drainage, then putting in a shallow layer of soil for planting. Then we opened up our shipment of potatoes that arrived this week from Seed Savers Exchange and our hearts fell. There were about eight medium-sized potatoes in the box, two of which were rotten. Stupid potatoes! (This was shocking to us — normally SSE is utterly reliable.) And the instructions suggested we needed to cut the potatoes into plantable pieces (about two inches square, with at least two eyes each) and let the cut sides get callused a bit, after sitting for a day or two. D’oh! We were doing yardfun today! Stupid potatoes. Well, we did the cutting, and will do the planting in a few days, assuming they don’t rot. Grumble, grumble, grumble…

Next up, it was time to do some transplanting.

Lettuce Before Transplanting

The Imbolc lettuce was rarin’ to go, and we figured it could live in the bed the peppers will be moving into later this summer.

Imbolc Lettuce Planted

It looks so happy now that it’s got room to spread out!

Onions Before Transplanting

The onions, which we never bothered thinning, were a tangled snarl of ready-to-not-be-in-the-crowded-little-tray seedlings.

Transplanted Onions

After a little wrestling them apart, a little manhandling them into a bed, a little cussing about how much we hate transplanting onion seedlings, and then a little remembering that the year we direct-sowed them, none of our onions grew, we were done. Transplanted onions are always the least impressive sight of the entire garden season. They look all hearty and oniony in the seedling trays, then pathetic and wimpy in the big beds. Good thing we’ve got the garlic to gaze upon happily, until the onions can get their act together and start looking like real plants.

Garlic As Of April 3rd 2010

The other big yardfun job we had to take care of was tidying up the orchard. All of our beloved fruit trees live in unsightly playpens of temporary deer netting held up by six-foot stakes. (Our motto about this ugly landscaping treatment is, “If the township would let us put up real deer fencing, our neighbors wouldn’t have to look at this crap.” Ball’s in your court, Township.) Once a year, we have to straighten the stakes, which spend the next 364 days leaning and drooping and falling over, and then reset the deer netting. We generally have to expand the playpen borders, too, since the trees have this wacky tendency to get bigger. This year we even did some pruning, because, amazingly, some of the trees are too big.

Leaves On Sticks

The apple trees are always the first ones in our yard to get green leaves, and some of them were already well on their way today. And meanwhile, the peach trees are practically bustin’ out with blossoms.

Promise Of Pink

We’ve still got two more new trees to plant (a Pineapple quince in a spot we’re expanding the orchard into, and a Whitney crabapple to put into the spot where the Spitzenburg apple died last year), but you know what? That’s going to have to wait until tomorrow. We’re pooped.

[Posted by Schnookie]

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Filed under 4. April, Can't Wait To Eat That Monkey, Garden, Orchard

Now We Just Sit Back And Wait For The Crops To Roll In

As of today, every seed we’re starting indoors for 2010 has been started! We’ve got ever-more-hearty onion seedlings hardening off in the cold frame in the garden, pepper seeds doing their slow germination thing in seedling trays in the plant window, and freshly-planted tomatoes and broccoli. All the hard work of gardening is over now, right?

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Filed under 3. March, Announcements, Can't Wait To Eat That Monkey, Garden