Heirloom tomato seeds. It’s early in the season yet to be planning for next spring, but my Djeena golden plant is dead. I got exactly 3 tomatoes, all of which were first chewed by a big fat horn worm, before her stem rotted for some reason.
Here is one of them all ripe and pretty (and slightly wilted) on the right:
Maybe it’s because of the scarcity, but the Golden Girl tasted so tart and delicious. And it wasn’t just me. Gordon and Eddie thought she was yummy too.
So I saved her. I think. Unless I let her seeds germinate by fermenting too long. But I think they’re ok. Nice and fuzzy like the random seeds I bought in the rainbow packet originally.
Got some beautiful watermelon plants – Charleston Gray – growing in reusable grocery bags. I’m going to go ahead and embarrass myself by publishing some assumptions without first doing research.
Container gardening poses challenges with moisture sometimes more so than gardening in the ground
Cloth bags don’t hold moisture all that well (hence people posting things like “it’s impossible to over water”)
Water- fucking- melon should probably receive plenty of water, Yeah?
I’ve been a bit of a stingy waterer thus far
And now for the drum roll………
Presenting Blossom End Rot!
So far it only seems like 2 of the 9 babies are affected. And now I solemnly swear to water them every day until they are nearly ripe (if we are so blessed to make it that far) and I will at that point withhold water for the sole purpose of sweetening.
Out of curiosity Silas and I cut into one. He said, “I bet it’s red inside!” I said, “I bet it’s white.” Well, guess who was right?
They smell fantastic and are surprisingly sweet for being so little.
(Now, let’s just cross our fingers that it’s not a real calcium deficiency.)
$1 apiece. Marshall’s bags. Huge and less porous than the cloth kind of shopping bag, so holds moisture better. I would call it a successful experiment. I have indeterminate heirlooms overtaking six foot bamboo stakes and producing lovely fruit, all contained within these colorful bags.
These came from Burpee’s heirloom assortment, which I did my best to examine for differences hoping to reap the greatest probable variety.
It worked pretty well, because so far I have tasted a cuostralee:
A pink brandywine:
Lots of golden sunbursts:
A black krim and a couple of djena lee’s golden girls (r.i.p. djena’s girl….best tangy flavor but the stem rotted somehow):
And a hundred and fifty million red currants (separate seed pack) but still not too many to keep up with eating them fresh. And they’re the best!
Next summer I would like to put the tomatoes into the ground, mostly because of my own ideals about what a real garden should look like. But honestly, this is working out really well. The cheapy bags hold plenty of soil, they are sturdy enough to move around a bit, and the bamboo stakes do pretty well supporting everything. I do think my supports move a bit too much and maybe that’s why my djena’s girl died. Not sure. But overall, I claim success! Would recommend.
But one mystery remains. What the hell is sticking out of my tomato stakes?
A little seedling volunteered itself in my compost pile. So I stuck it in one of the bags and it grew into a lovely vine that I trellised to the fence.
I got really excited with all the flowers! So many spaghetti squash were coming! (Counting the proverbial chickens) I wondered what is the best way to store them? Decided that I would let them fully ripen and cure them outside until my fingernail wouldn’t pierce the skin and then store them on shelves in the basement on cardboard. Yea! Got it all figured out – – – Thanks, Google!
Then the happy hopeful flowers started dropping off with nothing to show for. What happened? But hey wait, there were a few flowers with fat little fruit behind them. These must be my squash. Ok so maybe I won’t have 17 squash that need storage, but there are five squash right here certainly.
Five plump little squash. So pretty. Huh, the flowers dropped off them too. And wait, two days later they seem a bit spongy and yellow? What is happening?! Disease! Disease, I tell you! What have I done? Was it the compost tea? Some mysterious pathogen?!
Help me, Google! What have I done wrong, my fellow gardeners?
Ah shit. Seriously? They just aren’t fertilized? Fat flowers are girls, skinny flowers are boys…..ohhhhh. Also the flowers are only open for one morning and if a bee doesn’t hop her happy ass from one to the other before noon, the opportunity is closed.
Ok. Time for some intervention.
And for a comparison, female flower three days after manual pollination vs. unfertilized and a few days older:
And six days after pollination:
Pretty awesome, I think!
However it seems like the vine is working as hard as it can to grow this single lovely squash because the budding sister flowers all wilted before maturing. The males are still blooming, but even the brand new female buds that have emerged post pollination have died.
I’m curious to see how far along mistress squash will have to be before the female flowers begin to flourish again.
She is kinda too heavy to be dangling off the top of the fence. The vine looked worrisome so I interfered further with some support hose fit for a queen.
Some days the garden makes my heart glisten with joy, some days it makes me say fuck a lot.
Today was a fuck day.
Some gray wiltedness and brown spottiness caught my eye as I was squishing a few small slugs on the peppers this morning. One tomato plant for sure. Maybe a fungus? I don’t know.
So here’s the strategy:
-Isolate this plant
-Give other tomatoes more room for air circulation
– Apply organic sulfur stuff on Thursday when Amazon delivers it
– Add Epsom salts to soil in case it’s a magnesium deficiency and because it can’t hurt
– Add more compost to soil
– Cross fingers
So luckily it was pizza night at the homestead so I could rush out and use the last two hours of daylight after work. Eddie came out to help (under duress) and thinned out his corn while I worked on this craziness.
The ability to move my tomatoes around made me happy that they are in bags. However my whole stake system sucks pretty bad, which became quite evident this evening. I used long skinny tree branches stuffed into the bags and propped against each other. Sure they are cute and natural and tall and free, but they are also wide based and heavy and basically want to topple the plants over when the bags are no longer too close together. So, I need to find good old light skinny stakes, but tall ones.
Next year I’m tilling the place up and planting in the ground. And spacing generously.
Here the poor baby is, cropped and quarantined. Got rid of that shit.
And here’s my new spacing. Looks so chaotic right now:
And here’s some probable blossom end rot because I was going to let my plants toughen up by not watering much. Yep. That worked.
So months have passed. Some things have happened. Some other things have not.
We didn’t buy the rental. Weeks after we moved in, it became apparent that the rental wouldn’t be at all suitable for city folks’ weekend getaways (stench, noise). And then crunching the numbers with a clearer head showed a very thin return on investment for a huge outlay of cash, along with an undertaking of care for which we were just not ready. Luckily Mr. & Mrs. C were slow to shoddily hold up their end of things, giving us the chance to escape making a second huge mistake. Throughout the winter we were nearly completely convinced that buying the property we live in was the first one.
Once upon a time there was a tree bursting full of astringent persimmons. (Meaning they are horribly puckery and basically inedible until very ripe at which point they become gooey sweet, orange flavored and fig textured). So yesterday with Gordon’s help, I picked what I could, cleaned up the mess on the ground, then lay down a tarp to catch some freshly fallen fruit. …Of course about seven landed on the tarp and about seventy elsewhere.
There was also a cute little caterpillar that Silas and I named Simmy who was out collecting fallen fruit.
More often than periodically, we are blessed with the rank scent of shit around our abode. At first we were puzzled by its origin, thinking that some nearby field had been freshly enriched by manure. (Wishful thinking.) Then on my way home from work one day I discovered a sign with a cute little cartoon turkey on it right down the road. And a long barn on the property with cute little turkey head silhouettes showing through a screen. Crap. That’s the source of the stench. Not temporary.
Now that the persimmons are ripening and the renters moved out, I’ve been spending more time at the other edge of the property. And then I realized that my perception was a bit off. The stinking turkeys aren’t down the road at all, but right across the street. Great. Gobble gobble. Maybe this thanksgiving will offer something to be truly thankful for.
Anyway, I got some ripe little fruit, pulverized it, and am storing it for later. Moved the tarp and will visit the turkeys again tomorrow.
Oh yeah, and here’s the rental that will probably be ours one day soon. For Rent: Cute Little House in the Woods (hope that you’re nose blind). Actually the stink isn’t bad in the woods…but there may be ghosts and fairies and angry deer and shit.
I barely fell asleep before I heard a faint sound of distress. Silas crying at the other end of the house in his bed. I ran to him as fast as I could. He was upset because he had to pee.
Forget going back to sleep right now. Or rather, I tried for about 30 minutes, but now I’m here entertaining you, virtual diary with my bullshit tales of woe.
Why did we do this? How could we have ripped Eddie out of his school, his life, away from his friends? We said, “As soon as we move in, we’ll have a party for all your friends to show them where you live. They’ll want to come often.” Well that was crap. One because we haven’t and probably won’t. Two because that is just rubbing salt in the wound, “Thanks for coming, good buddies, now go back to my old life and I will go back to my lonely new one.”
It’s day 4 of 7th grade at a new school. He seems ok. Said the kids are all nice and as a matter of fact, nobody has made one disparaging remark to anyone as far as he can recall. Well that’s just bizarre. Nothing makes you feel like an outsider more than being off-kilter in a sea of nice. Who the hell is that happy and fine where they don’t have to talk some trash? Or is it a case of “bless his heart” (whisper whisper whisper)? Of course I share none of these poison thoughts with him. And honestly I didn’t have these poison thoughts at all until I was lying around fretting, digging the anxiety wound bigger and bigger.
I’m terrified of the possibility of climbing out of my warm fly covered dung heap to take a new job. Especially right now. But shouldn’t I join the club and do just that? Especially because of what I’ve forced my fragile-aged son to do?
Or perhaps the better question is why am I down this godless rabbit hole at all? Because Eddie mentioned his friend Sammi and we shared a pang of absence and planned on sending out emails to friends once the kids were assigned their chrome books, (since the whole county is linked)? Is it because nobody’s reassurances mean a thing, except my mother’s, and I can’t ever have one of those again? Or is it because we really did the very wrong thing in coming here? Should we have stayed in hot, plastic suburbia watching House of Cards and just dreaming of trees?
What did I tell him and myself before? What are the nuggets of truth that I’ve forgotten? It doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we are together. Everything will be fine no matter what. You know nobody there today, but will know them all tomorrow. It will be worth it. We will be able to breathe there.