Some Ladybugs Aren’t Friendly & a Cucumber Celebration

Cucurbit Ladybirds are vegetarians. No aphids for them, just yummy cucumber and squash leaves.

I plucked some from the cucumber plants and held onto them until I could figure out what they were. Then Silas decided he wanted to keep them for a while.

But now he’s done and told me I can go ahead and kill them. Seems pretty harsh, but I did explain previously that we weren’t going to release them back into the wild.

The lovely plants do seem like they can withstand a bit of gnawing. Last year there were some Cucumber Beetles, but I’d not seen these Ladybirds before.

The pollinators are working hard.

Even some ants are getting in on the action.

Thank you, everybody (except you guys that I still need to crush — sorry.)

These are from the saved seeds of last year’s Parade Pickles and they taste like heavenly flowers. Even Scout likes them.

Water infused with them (& basil & peppermint) keeps me happily hydrated enough to keep working in the harsh sun. Also Silas likes it! He’s such a good little buddy.

Time to do away with the little jerks.

Oh sweet. They’re trying to make more vegetarian ladybugs.

Dead.

Advertisements

Some Strange Squash Shit

Earlier today while I was building the third row of Florida weave tomato trellises, I noticed that one of the squash plants looked droopy. I was pretty hot and droopy myself so I didn’t think much of it. This evening I noticed that same squash was gone. Just disappeared. No pieces or parts or prints or anything.

Just a clipped off stem at the soil line.

So, yes there was still a root ball.

But it just left.

The plants aren’t exactly tiny.

The only reasonable explanation I can think of is fairies. They were cutting it down when I saw it looking droopy and then they dragged off for their June 1st celebration. I hope they put it in some water.

Others’ Gardens

Yesterday I found a new way to go to work. Google paved the way when I opted out of the sooner-than-usual cluster fuck that bedazzles my morning commute. At the end of the unfamiliar detour there was a tiny park with a very nice garden. Today I detoured that way again, making time for a short visit.

The whole garden was lovely and segmented into people’s individual plots. Since it was also fenced and padlocked, I had to take photos through chain link while my shoes got wet in the dewy (weedy, thank you very much) grass.

What I think I found most inspiring was the faith and dedication that people have with this community garden, in that there were lots of plants that took real commitment. Not your average season of plants that you compost at frost, but plants that said their owners were invested. And invested in a spot of earth that wasn’t really theirs. A large well-established rosemary and a hopeful young grapevine made me realize that there’s something important in the spirit of gardening that I don’t understand yet. Maybe it is the communal part. That gardening with others makes you more generous or brave or competitive. I don’t know. Maybe it’s more of a shrug. Like of course we aren’t in control, have you seen what the slugs did to my strawberries? What’s the harm in caring for a five year old rosemary in a small rental plot in a public park?

I don’t know. But what I do know is that beehives make me excited and happy and I’d still like one someday.

It was a lovely start to the day. The damp green smell followed me as I drove away, clinging to my hair and clothes. Also whatever it is about gardens that seems to sweetly shove my soul back into place clung for a while too.

New Boots

I finally killed my old Sloggers and got some new ones. They’re great. They don’t have much support, but they take a ton of abuse and are nice and flexible and short. I got my first pair two and a half years ago.

My new ones came today. Aren’t they pretty and shiny?

I should show up like this at work:

………..

The rain is freaking me out right now. Maybe I’ll go check on the remaining few babies in pots (and break in my new boots). Or maybe I’ll just keep lying in bed.

I’m Dead

Five hours of tilling, weeding, spacing and planting did me in. I was already really sore in the neck when I woke this morning, but now I’m pretty much toast. Thankfully the sun mostly stayed away while I was out there. I wouldn’t have been able to get done what I needed to otherwise.

Tomatoes
Pumpkins
Tomato, Squash, & Pepper sections

Just ignore the fact that there are still weeds in every picture and focus on the accomplishment, ok?

Okra rows with a couple of watermelons in between
Strawberries

I transplanted:
Pumpkins – 6
Yellow squash -14
Bell peppers – 11
Lunchbox peppers – 3
Banana peppers – 8
Eggplant – 7
Cayenne – 6
Jalapenos – 8
Cinnamon basil – 4
Tomato – 1
That’s 68 freaking plants!

I ran out of space for peppers so I ended up putting the cayenne in the herb garden and the jalapenos in the flower garden.

Again, look at the flowers not the weeds. Ok well some of my flower garden plants are weeds.

There are still 7 small tomatoes and 2 habaneros that will be looking for homes in a week or two. If I rip out the mizuna and the broccoli and plant near the cucumbers and maybe next to the okra, I should be able to cram everyone in.

I estimate that I have 250 plants that I started from seed right now. No wonder I’m tired. That’s damn ambitious.

Camouflaged Culprits

Ugh — assholes! This is what happens when you don’t spend enough time in the garden. Jerks take over. Green jerks.

Collards in Crisis

Ah fuck it. I should just rip out these collards anyway. One is trying to bolt and I need the space. I really need to get out there this weekend and figure out how to make my tiller narrow in order to clean house. And plant, damnit. All the huge babies need to go in no matter what. Especially the pumpkins. They’re absolutely the most ridiculous seedlings I’ve ever had.

Here, Chicky Chicky

Bastard Slugs

are eating the strawberries, each and every one. First the ripening ones were mysteriously becoming limp threads, then the white ones were getting chomped. Plucking the victimized fruit revealed the little slippery perpetrators in action.

So here’s to you, bastards! Have a nice warm Pabst Blue Ribbon in a pie plate. I know there are infinity of you, but maybe taking some of you out will leave a berry or two for me.

Out of Control!

Everything is big. Big babies, big weeds. The babies need to go into the ground and the weeds need to come out.

Big Baby Yellow Squash (& More Tomatoes)
Overgrown Bell Peppers
Peppers, Pumpkins, Eggplant & Basil
Tomatoes and Weeds
Swiss Chard and Weeds
Snow Peas (that need picking) and Weeds
Okra (that needs to be thinned) and Weeds

(Notice all the noodly worm things everywhere. Those are from the pecan tree that overhangs the garden.)

But it’s just too damn hot to do anything and I spent Mother’s Day napping and reading and eating and chatting with the family. The only gardening that happened was planting more seeds (blush).

But they were flower seeds my kids put in my new hand painted mother’s day pots, okay?! (And some black pepper seeds that my dad sent me, wanting a second person to try because he thinks it’s his karma preventing them from germinating for him because my brother is presently not speaking to my father and my brother is the one who introduced him to those peppers. But really the seeds smell musty and look dark.)

But anyway– we have tomato blossoms!

Growing Pickles

It was time to put these babies in the ground before they started climbing all over each other.

The seeds came from last year’s parade pickles, which ended up being very good producers. I used the same fermenting technique that you use with tomatoes. The germination rate was high, maybe 75%. Last year I didn’t start them until mid may, so these are a good bit earlier. The only concern I have with them being so early is that the pollinators may not be out in force when they’re ready for them.

I’m very pleased with this setup. The plants will be strung to the low part of the fence to train them upward. When building the trench I found the soil to be soft and holding moisture, (also quite toad occupied). The plants should do well here. This was okra’s home last year and those plants went crazy.

Scout harrassing an unearthed toad

We currently have 32 cucumber plants. Last year 30 was the plan, but at transplant time, we only had about 18. I was still able to do a good bit of pickling, but not as much as I would have liked. (On the other hand, I still have a few jars of pickled okra and a gallon bag of frozen pieces so I’d be ok with a few less of those.)

Pappy the Killjoy and my Tomato Issues

Here are my baby tomatoes

And here are the new seed varieties planted just yesterday

And here are the extra hybrids that I couldn’t bear to thin because they germinated so well and because they’re Park’s Celebrity for goodness sakes!

Not Okra

(The okra was yellow from the indoor lighting and I have a million more seeds so I yanked them to make room for these beauties.)

And here are my extra Russian Queens because I just found out that they’re pretty rare here in the states, so I couldn’t kill them either.

So yeah. I have a lot of frigging baby tomatoes and really don’t know what I’m going to do with them.

But what I do know is that I want to build a large heirloom collection, one that I can turn into seeds or plants for sale.

So I tell this to my dad (Pappy, as my kids call him). And he tells me, “You didn’t separate anything so you have a lot of crossbreeding going on and you won’t know what it is anyway.”

But tomatoes pollinate themselves. It’s like masturbation pollination. They don’t need bees like the squash and cukes do. They don’t accidentally cross, right? You have to work for a hybrid, yeah? I started googling, hoping that he was wrong —

Well fuck.

What am I going to do now? I have 5 varieties of tomatoes that I think are heirloom, but are probably really not. A couple that I first grew in 2016 and then again in 2017. Seeds that I was so proud of. Seeds that would be even better this year because they’re used to my soil and my growing habits. Strong healthy seeds grown from and for this place. My seeds.

My adventure down the somewhat depressing rabbit hole taught me that the varieties I’ve bought this year can be kept true through careful bagging of the blossoms. (What a pain in the ass!) But I’m not sure what to do about the others. Be surprised this year I guess. Bag those blossoms anyway? Yeah probably.

Well at least now I found the courage to thin out my other “heirlooms”.

R.I.P. “German Johnson” & “Black Krim”

My varieties (italics means they’re probably/possibly corrupted):

  • Black Krim 2016 & 2017
  • German Johnson 2017
  • Golden Sunburst 2016
  • Russian Queen 2017
  • Red Currant 2016 & 2017
  • Warren’s Yellow Cherry 2018
  • Chocolate Cherry 2018
  • Pineapple 2018
  • Big Rainbow 2018
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast 2018
  • Costoluto Genovese 2018

I have a random cherry tomato that volunteered itself in my compost last spring and I saved those seeds too. I call those Generosity Cherries because along with them being volunteers, they are large and prolific and germinated much sooner than all the others. I wonder if they may be a parent of the grocery store vine tomatoes.

I guess the worst case scenario is that I now have six funky mystery tomatoes I can play with and name.

Cool.