Garden 2012 – Week Twelve
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Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been three months since we started this year’s garden.  It’s really flown by!

 Every week as I sit down to write, I tell myself that this update will absolutely, positively be no longer than three pages long.  Iiiii’m pretty sure I’ve never even come close to sticking to that limit.  With so many things blooming and producing fruit and just basically being amazing, though, can you blame me?  How could I not want to share it all with you guys? 

 All that to say, brace yourselves.  Maybe get a cup of coffee, grab a snack, and hold on.  I’m feeling a little verbose. ;)

 I’m all about that one giant squash plant this week.  Bro named it Samuel L. Jackson.  Something about “him” insisting we “get these mother bleepin’ aphids off  my mother bleepin’ leaves!”  I seem to remember it being hysterical in context, so feel free to laugh. 

Sam Jackson is a badass, though, I have to say.  He grows so much every week that it’s getting increasingly difficult to squeeze past him.  It doesn’t help that his leaves and stems are entirely covered in prickly, little hairs that grab at and catch our clothes every time we make the attempt.

On the plus side, Sam Jackson is also covered in dozens of blossoms, which, when open, are absolutely gorgeous. 

Would you look at that?  Isn’t that incredible?  That’s the first one I’ve been around to witness (they usually open in the morning, but have closed up again well before I get home from work.)  Idn’t it goooorgeous?   Before they open, the blossoms taper off to a neat point.  After they have bloomed and closed back up again, they sort of corkscrew themselves shut.  You can see examples of both in this picture.

 

“Corkscrew” seems to be a theme with the crookneck squash.  It’s a viner, and as it climbs a structure, it sends out straight tendrils which grab hold of the wall or trellis or, in this case, the tomato shade.  The tendrils then curl up, presumably in order to pull the main plant closer to the structure it’s climbing. 

Isn’t that cool?  Gorgeous, too.  Sorry, Sam Jackson, but it’s true.  You’re pretty.  It’s okay; you’re still a badass.

 Moving on from the squash, the Hungarian sweets have begun to turn yellow.  We picked one just to try it.  It was extremely under ripe, but no matter.  I sliced it into rings and simply threw it in a solution of vinegar, water, salt, minced garlic, and chives, and I pickled it.  It tastes awesome, I have to say.

We also picked (but didn’t pickle) our first cucumber.  It, too, was far from ripe, but picking it was still a good thing to do, in keeping with the idea of removing the first fruit early to promote greater growth down the road. 

 

Let me tell you, getting to the above fruit was more difficult than you’d think.  Between Sam Jackson reaching out his spiky tendrils to grab as me as I passed, trays of lettuce on the ground, and other plants having grown to the point where you can’t tell where one starts and the other ends, there’s not a lot of room to maneuver.  I mean, look at how narrow the path is! 

Thanks to the magic of the camera and its ten pounds-adding ways, that space may not look small, but in reality it’s under two feet wide.  In order to get to the cucumber, I had to shift pots around, step over others, approach with my side, bend and contort myself in funny ways (Yoga?  Who needs yoga?), and employ a pair of tongs. 

 

I had to do something similar in order to get inside the shade and snap a picture of these lovely green ‘maters.  Minus the tongs.

 

 

It’s so tight in there that Bro has been rethinking the way he set everything up.  It’s not *wrong*, but it’s not the best use of our space.  That’s okay, we knew from the start that this season would be an experimental one.  We were looking to figure out what grows best where, and the set up of the patio ties right into that.  Better yet, it’s warm enough in Southern California that we actually have two different growing seasons.  So we don’t even have to wait a year before we can change things up and try to refine our system. 

 Remember last week’s visitor, the leaf-munching katydid?  Well this week we had a different guest, and this one was infinitely more welcome. 

 

 

Yes, folks, it appears that a praying mantis has taken up residence in our main tomatillo pot.  If you recall, praying mantises are great to have in your garden because they prey on aphids and other small, plant-destroying pests.  We’ve seen him a few times now, but always on those tomatillos, so there must be enough bugs on just those plants to keep him well fed.  Yikes!  We’re hoping he gets nice and big and begins to branch out and tend to more of the plants.  Or heck, maybe he’d like to invite some of his friends to stay a while.  We’d be cool with that.  Providing, of course, they keep their music down and only party on weekends. 

 Next door to the tomatillos, Helga the Swiss chard plant is thriving.  In fact, all of the more mature chard plants I was forced to repot are growing nicely.  Perhaps I should be dropping more plants on their heads.  

Speaking of thriving, would you take a look at this bad boy?  Our first jalapeño is shy no more!  What’s more, all over the plants you can see tiny peppers just beginning to push through their dead blossoms.  I think we’re about to have more jalapeños than we’ll know what to do with! 

 No full shot of Legz this week for some reason, but look at these!  He’s just covered in tomatoes.

We’ve also got more beans a-blooming.  Here are a couple of gorgeous black bean blossoms, and they’re not fuzzy this time!

 

That’s about all I’ve got for Week Twelve.  Can’t wait to see what kind of luck Week Thirteen brings!  =waves=

 


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