Wednesday, September 21, 2005

27 July 2005, Ground hog, Rain and raspberries, Seeds, Vegetables

This time of year in the garden is filled with surprises. There are the best laid plans that didn't work out. Pet projects get scrapped or sometimes work very well. Back burner items often come through, somehow making the garden headlines. Things are maturing, time moving on.
It is time to begin collecting seeds. This has become a pleasure in recent years. There is a lot we don't take into account about raising growing things. I read yesterday about UV light and the spectrums, red and blue. Red light causes the plant to grow small and sturdy, extreme red light causes it to grow very tall. Our sense of wonder at sunsets and love of color, we can talk about these things in terms of wave lengths, if we want.
Every seed has different DNA and if we could grow every one, we'd have the power of God to decide the future of the universe grow them all and choose. But my garden has only so much space, and I have limited time on earth. I did get some mixed red and yellow Snap dragons. Some of the yellow Pansies mixed with the small violet ones to make a lovely purple with a yellow center, but they don't make seeds.
The tomatoes, Pruden's Purple and Kellogg's Breakfast, four Super Sonic and some Italian Paste that volunteered from the compost are taking off. The Tomatillos and Sweet Potatoes like the warm weather and are cascading over the sides of the three feet high, plastic garbage cans they are planted in. I will grow more if these garbage can gardens on the east side of my house, where the drive way is next year. The driveway, after all was designed for the wide cars designed in the 60's. Our little cars scoot right by the large pots. The concrete and brick collect the sun's heat in the morning. Mediterranean climate plants thrive there. Plus it is a handy place to put weeds that I have pulled. I don't need to go all the way to the compost pile out back, as the solicinae and sweet potato plants don't mind growing in the nitrogen rich, moist green flotsam.
I have had visits by many Monarchs and several Browns. One lovely small lavender butterfly with spots captivated me while it visited. I have quite a few white Cabbage Moths. I am not raising monarchs in the house this year, as I'm afraid I'll be away when they hatch. There is plenty of Milkweed for them in the rain garden, and they are pleased to visit. Butterflies seem to spend most of their time in the air on wind currents and drafts.
I put beans and squashes in the middle of the Milkweed to put the GH off them. He ate most of the Sun Flowers back by the fence, even if I did plant them late in the season, hoping he wouldn't remember how good they are. He likes young succulent things. He ate my neighbor's beans. A took off his fence cages too soon, I guess.
Looking at the devastation over at A's house, I recall why I grow vegetables in the rather unconventional way I do, in circles and mixed beds. The ground hog loves long straight rows of succulent greens, he figures they are put out just for him. My old dog used to do in baby ground hogs, but even so, the families would do their foraging in my garden. My old dog corners the GH now. Then she will use her alarm bark, expecting her pack to come and help. I do not encourage this. I don't have a gun and am not interested in ground hog stew. I could try traps, but there seem to be too many of the varmints. I haven't seen the coyote in a couple of years. Either they are overwhelmed by all the varmints, or they have been hunted or otherwise moved on. The groundhog problem was less for a few years when the coyotes were vigilant. Now it is back.
I also use my round cages to good effect. I grew peas, beans, cukes, and zucchini this year, unmolested in my round cages. Recently, some winter squash that was looking sad in a pot near the house found a hospitable environment in a chicken wire ring, full of leaves from last fall. Squash roots need room to roam, just like the leaves do. I have opposing thumbs, and the GH doesn't so I sometimes win. It helps to send the dog out early for her perimeter patrol, as the GH is active at dawn and dusk.
It was a good raspberry season this year. We got thunder storms that kept the berries producing for a long time. I might even have to put in drip irrigation, we get so many more when they are kept moist. Usually they are all dried up by now, but there are plants with berries out there, even now.
I don't think the Lilies like so much rain. The Asiatic ones, seem to be wilting before they bloom. Geraniums, which evolved in Australia, are getting snails in their pots. They will rebel if things stay wet. Driving across the state, every place seems quite lush this year. The vistas are green and there is a haze in the air from all of the respiro-transpiration of the trees. Bills for air-conditioning are down this year. We did have two hot days in a row- 93 degrees. The rain has cooled everything off today. The grass is long and too damp to cut. Many people don't like the humidity, but I do.
Beans and cukes are coming along in perfusion, so we have them for dinner every night, as they have to be picked every day. The best snack in the world is cucumber fresh from the garden. I'm about to get out dilly bean recipes.
Dill is ripening. I pick the heads when the seeds start to turn brown. Then I put the heads, uncovered in a quart container and let them dry. Later in the fall, I'll take out the non seed parts and put the dill seed in a jar. I put some basil to dry on my cupboard door handle hangers. The mint I dried earlier in the season molded and I had to throw it out. I guess I didn't let it dry enough. Mint is flowering now. The pollinators love it so, I'll wait until fall to dry more, after it is finished flowering.


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