My dearest…

IMG_0348Dear tiny seed,

I’m so glad you’re here! I pored over seed catalogs all winter searching for just “the one.” I did some online research with the local extension service, borrowed a couple of texts from the library, and googled you, just for good measure. I looked into companion plants and searched for the best sized container for you. I’m getting some special seed starting soil just to make sure you’re comfortable during your first days and have picked out a nice, sunny spot for you to stretch your legs. I’m looking forward to our time together.

-Eager gardener


plant-7407_1280Dear tiny seedling,

I can’t believe you and your brothers made it, you beautiful little sun worshippers! Yes, I know those clippers are getting a bit close, but you don’t all fit. You want your own room, don’t you? The sun’s a little too warm? Let me move you. The shade’s a bit too cool? How about over here? You don’t want to spend the night outside? Come sleep in the window. I can’t wait until you’re a little older!

-Hopeful gardener


IMG_20150809_082328_hdrDear growing plant,

Well, look at you! All grown up and looking fine. You’ve got great color, strong growth… just look at those lovely leaves! Don’t mind the compost tea bath. It’s to keep pests at bay. What pests, you ask? Hopefully, you will never know. These are things your mother gardener worries about. Just keep doing your thing.

-Happy gardener


Who knew okra was so pretty?
Who knew okra was so pretty?

Dear flowering plant,

You are looking lovely today. Those flowers are simply radiant! Whoops… you lost one, or two. I must retreat to the interwebs. Just stay calm, I will be back shortly.

-Panicked gardener


Mini bells!
Mini bells!

Dear fruiting plant,

I’m so proud of you! Look at those gorgeous tiny fruit. Well done, plant… well done! So, uh, how long do ya think before those ripen up? Just curious.

-Hungry gardener

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plant-259806_1280

Fueled

By Marcie Hans

Fueled by million man-made wings of fire
the rocket tore a tunnel through the sky
and everybody cheered.
Fueled
only by a thought from God –
the seedling
urged its way
through the thickness of black –
and as it pierced
the heavy ceiling of the soil –
and launched itself
up into outer space –
no
one
even
clapped.

Garden Treasures

X marks the spot when looking for buried treasure.

IMG_0481
Tiny cabbage treasures.

When in the garden, tiny seedlings mark the spot. That spot where I planted a little, dry seed, and watered the brown earth that covers it. That spot that represents an exercise in trust, in hope, and sometimes… futility. My neighbors watch as I water a container full of soil. “What’s that?” they’ll ask. I proudly announce, “This is cherry tomatoes, and over here, these are beans!” We stare at the pot full of soil with a little popsicle stick garden marker denoting the plant variety and sow date. My neighbor smiles… and leaves.

I, on the other hand, remain. There are tiny treasures just beneath the soil. Some will emerge, some will not. Some will surpass even my imagination of what they could be, or become.

Still lots of fall planting left to do!

Fall planting is underway! It’s not too late if you’re still looking to get some seeds in the ground. Okay, so it is late for some long-growing heat lovers like ‘maters and peppers, but don’t worry, there’s plenty other yummy things that we’re just in time for!

Baby Bush Limas 08/19/2015
Baby Bush Limas 08/19/2015
  • Lima Beans: these come in both stubby bush types and vining pole types. For fall, use the bush types. These are low-maintenance like cowpeas. I’ve planted them in some bare, unworked soil just off the sidewalk to test just how low-maintenance they can be. These are Henderson bush limas. So far, so good!
  • Snap Beans: also available in both bush types and pole types. Again, use the bush types for fall planting. I’ve tried a couple varieties. So far, Blue Lake is my favorite.
  • Broccoli and Cabbage: I’m trying myhand at these this year. I’m struggling to understand how these cool-weather veggies will be able to survive an autumn hotter than most folk’s summers, but I’m trusting the process and am prepared to be either humbled or amazed, or both! I  planted a variety named DeCicco, but there are other varieties that have been recommended by the local extension service.

    De Cicco Broccoli 08/15/2015 (Wooden skewers help to deter cats.)
    De Cicco Broccoli 08/15/2015
    (Wooden skewers help to deter cats.)
  • Cucumbers: my favorite! There are so many varieties to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. Check out the above link for some great suggestions. There are short-vining types, like Spacemaster, that are great for containers, but even longer-vining types can be trained up a trellis to save space. If you don’t have bees around to do the pollinating for you, choose a parthenocarpic type like Sweet Success that self-pollinates, or be prepared to “help the process.”
  • Summer squash: If you’re planting in containers look for a compact
    Dirani Lebanese Squash 08/19/2015
    Dirani Lebanese Squash 08/19/2015

    variety with a bush-type habit. Those will work in something as small as a five-gallon bucket, but don’t be fooled, it will eventually pour out of the bucket anyway and keep on going!

Progress in the garden

I’m not sure if I’m the only gardener who goes outside every couple of hours to see if anything’s changed in the garden. Who knows? I could have missed a tomato hiding under a leaf this morning or the beans I’ve been waiting to sprout may have made their way up out of the soil since breakfast. It’s a lot like waiting for water to boil, so sometimes even the changes that are happening subtly don’t get noticed. I have been trying to snap a few pics here and there and those have been fun to see. Here’s a few to share!

Bushsteak Tomato


Red Ripper Cowpeas


Red Burgundy Okra

Control group

So I kinda got caught up in the whole “cowpea” moment last week and decided I was gonna put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I mentioned that growing cowpeas was so easy it could be done on a commercial break without any hassle… so, in addition to my container planted Red Rippers and Chinese Red Noodles, I did a little guerrilla gardening. Yep, I live in an apartment community, and while my neighbors and management have been very cool about my container gardening spilling over and outside my patio, I’m not sure how they would feel about me planting vegetables in the ground amongst their landscaping. So we won’t tell them, will we?

I took just a few minutes and and hoed a shallow trough an inch or so deep. This clay soil is so dry and hard, it broke into either powder or clods. I dropped a few seeds about an inch deep and six inches apart, covered as best I could with the rock hard clumps of soil and watered in. The biggest effort I did make was to cover the newly planted seeds with a thin layer of mulch. I wanted to try to keep the soil moist, but I didn’t want to deny the future seedlings any sunlight they might need.

That was four days ago and… viola!  The little guys made it through! I’m totally stoked! I can’t wait to see how they produce compared with their pampered container counterparts. I’ll keep you posted.IMG_0340c

Did you get around to putting your cowpeas in? How are they doing?