Friday, June 23, 2017

Poised for Growth

I've been doing the mental equivalent of tossing and turning all day today, because I knew I need to write a blog post, and I actually have a nice literary idea for one, but I've been doing so much academic writing lately, that when I finish it, I can't quite bring myself to write yet another literary thing.

My literary writing brains are worn out at the end of the day. And my fear is, if I write a blog post in the morning, I'll never get to the academic writing I need to do.

Such is the quandary. The struggle is real. (Note: I didn't say "worthwhile" or "valid" or even "interesting," just "real.")

But then it dawned on me: I've been spending so much time on the garden for the past two or three weeks, I might as well blog about where I am with that and save the other post for another day. (It will get done this weekend, I swear.)

The garden seems to me to be off to a slow start this year for a few reasons. First, the weather has been very ... volatile. It rained a lot, which wasn't bad, and it was chillier than normal for much of the month of May, and that wasn't bad either, really.

But it did mean that things didn't really grow after I planted them. Which brings me to the second reason why the garden seems a bit behind this year: I didn't have a chance to start anything indoors.

So everything went straight into the ground, as seeds, and it was sink or swim. There was no time for screwing around.

And I have to say, I think it turned out okay, even if it is a little behind where it usually is (and I'm not all that sure it is, that's just my sense). Because in years past, I start seeds indoors, get them to the point of transplantation and then BAM! dampening off!  BAM! sunburn! BAM! rabbits! BAM! bugs!!

So this year, because things just grew when they grew, it seems like they're a bit hardier. At least, that's the hope.

So okay, what do I have this year? I have all kinds of things growing. I planted melons, like so (please excuse the odd angle in some of these pictures, I was taking them quickly, before the battery died):


And I planted sweet potatoes, like so:

There are beans in with the melons and sweet potatoes, because my sense is that beans make the other plants rather happy.

I have a ton of itty bitty tomato plants in grow bags, but I didn't take pictures of those, because they're so small they're not terribly impressive.  But I also installed a new planter and put some tomatoes and basil in that, and here those are:


These are cherry tomato plants, so that's why they look a bit more impressive. My neighbor and I were chatting about gardening, and he characterized cherry tomatoes as the "weed" of the tomato plant family. (He means "weed" in the sense of "invasive, fast-growing plant" not "weed" in the sense of marijuana.)

At this point, I'll take it. (And by "it," I mean fast-growing cherry tomatoes, not weed.)

The overview of the garden beds right now is underwhelming, I'll admit, but I'll also admit that I'm optimistic.  Here that is:


The leeks (front right) and potatoes (back right) are doing pretty well. There are also carrots in the back, but you can't really see them.

And if you take a closer look, like so, you'll see it's not entirely terrible (again, apologies for the oddly angled shot):


That's lettuce in the front on the right side--it's doing quite well, because the temps haven't been terribly warm, and it's been cool and rainy. In the back are two types of squash--spaghetti, on the left, and acorn, on the right.

And if you know anything about squash, you know that in a few weeks, I'll no doubt be complaining bitterly about how they're taking over my entire garden.

I also have a couple of broccoli plants--you can see one staked on the right edge of the photo up above. I really tried not to plant quite so much this year--I have a billion tomato plants, but life has taught me that you really need a lot of those, because they have a tendency to, well, die, sometimes rather unexpectedly.

I'm also experimenting with composting and mulching this year, to see if that helps. If nothing else, it's sparing me a whole lot of time spent watering (well, that and the rain, obviously), and I'm curious to see if it helps the garden to grow a bit better. I just put some old grass down yesterday, and it may be my imagination, but I thought everything looked quite pleased with that this morning.

And on that note, I'll leave you with a picture of hope. Several years ago, I planted sweet william and for at least 2-3 years, I could never get any decent plants because the bugs ate them. (And I mean ate them.)

I had sort of given up all hope, when lo and behold, last year, I had an amazing little bed of sweet william.

And this year, it's even better! The other day, we had a heavy rain, so I clipped some of the ones that had been beaten down by the storm. They're a reminder that, sometimes, when it comes to gardening, you just never know.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."