Pretty Good Progress

– Posted in: Weather, What's up/blooming

Relatively speaking, that is. The other day I was feeling so smug for getting my peas in early. Everyone else is complaining about their peas rotting from all this rain, but I got mine in before the rain. Now, they’re just about finished blooming and there’s a lot of little pods on them. Then, I went inside and read about how Rumblefish (comment on “What’s Blooming Right Now”) has tomatoes blooming!! What do you do to get that?! Did you buy them started as plants, or did you start your own from seed? Granted, I technically (weather-wise) could have had mine actually in the ground almost two weeks ago, but blooming? When did you start yours? How many times did you have to re-pot them? Man, I’ve got to buy varieties by how quickly I can get fruit, and even then a lot of them fall to the frost. Maybe you don’t get such a late frost and you can plant out earlier. . .

Anyway, my lettuce is looking happy. And my peas are. And my weeds are. My potatoes are actually coming up, so that means they haven’t rotted or been eaten. My spinach, however, doesn’t look so hot. Actually, it kind of does look like it’s been hot. You know how spinach starts getting kind of yellow when it starts getting too hot? Well, it’s looking like that, except that it’s not been getting hot. Plus, I picked a heat and bolt resistant variety. I think that my SPINACH is rotting, root-first. I pulled up one pretty sickly looking plant, and it came up–whoop!–like it never really wanted to be there in the first place. The tap root only had a few half-hearted side roots coming off of it, and when you stick your finger in the hole it feels like the kind of mud pigs like to wallow in. So now I’m stuck in a terrible dilemma–pick the spinach now, before it’s full sized, so it doesn’t die completely? Or leave it in the ground, because surely pretty soon it will dry out? I think I’ll go about it scientifically–eenie, meenie, minie, moe. . . Nah, probably as soon as I think we have enough to reasonably use, I’ll pick it, regardless.

Flower-wise, I’m also doing okay. I have a couple snapdragons budding up, and all of my Bachelor’s Buttons. What few stocks grew are beginning to bloom! A Cracker Jacks Marigold is trying to bloom in it’s little cell, which makes me feel guilty. There’s still an awful lot of stuff left to plant out!! (By the way, this past Saturday I made an arrangement of Lemon Lilies and Siberian Iris, which I really liked. It smells great, and the colors are striking. The only problem is that it’s very short lived. Enjoy life while it lasts, right? I also discovered using Hosta leaves in arrangements, but, of the three kinds I tested, only one holds up well. Anything that had white in its leaves flopped over by the next morning. The pure green leaves are still growing strong.)

This year, I had planned on doing an experiment. Well, let me back up. Last year, I planted Crimson King Nicotiana. Some of it came out crimson, and some of it came out what my aunt calls “Lip-stick Pink.” Now, I liked the crimson, but I thought the Lip-stick pink kind was pretty gross. So this year I was going to sow Crimson King again, and clean out the seed–in other words, not let anything that bloomed that gross color go to seed. Then, next year, I would sow the seed that I had collected, and clean that out, ’till I finally had some seed that actually bloomed crimson like it was supposed to.

Unfortunately, things have gotten all mixed up. The Crimson King is all cramped up, dying to be planted (I hope not too literally), and instead I’m embarking on a different experiment, one I never wanted to do. It’s called “How Cold Can Basil Take It?” After my post “Minor Gardening Disasters” my basil seemed to be doing fine, thriving even. When the nights began to be consistently above 60, I foolishly stopped checking and instead contented myself to feeling guilty for not getting it in the ground. Then, last night, I woke up, courtesy of 13 month old Darling Deirdre. While wishing fervently she would stop crying and go to sleep, I realized my nose was cold. Wait a minute. My nose was cold?! My basil was outside. I was inside (though the window was opened). If my nose was cold, my basil must be even colder!

“Well,” said the part of me that wanted to stay in bed, “The damage has probably already been done. No point bringing it in.”

“No,” said the part of me that thinks too clearly, even when I’m half asleep, “It always gets the coldest around 6:30, which it’s not, or Mom would have gotten Deidre up.” (I know this thanks to Mom’s weather station.)

“Well, so what?” My good side had no retort to this, so it just sat there and silently worried, ’till my couldn’t-care-less side got sick of all the nagging. I got up, went downstairs, checked the weather station. 47 degress. Eeew. Brought my basil in, and thoroughly woke myself up. Then I laid awake for who knows how long, and every so often Deirdre would give off a short but loud cry, just to make sure no one was falling back to sleep. My only consolation being that at least my basil wasn’t outside any more.

So now we get to wait and see again. Last time it survived 55, now let’s see if it can take 8 degrees colder. It eventually did get down to 41, so it was good that I brought it in, but now I’m back to wondering. Will I get pesto or not? The pessimistic side of me, the one who wanted to stay in bed, wonders if maybe this is a blessing in disguise. I certainly can’t tell what I’ll be up to come August, but the odds that I’ll have time enough to turn about 80 plants into pesto is pretty slim, huh? My cheerful side (the one that was willing to get up), says that if I did turn 80 plants into pesto, I wouldn’t have to ration out the pesto, I could use it generously and thickly all winter long.

Further bulletins as events warrant. . .

About the Author

Talitha spent the last few years doing an absurd combination of work and school, and found it wasn’t very pleasant. Now she’s doing work, school and a garden, and life is a little better! She also enjoys photography and hand feeding her ducks. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 AHS Heat Zone: 3 Location: rural; Southern Tier of NY Geographic type: foothills of Appalachian Mountains Soil Type: acid clay Experience level: advanced beginner Particular interests: herbs, vegetables, cutting garden, cottage gardening

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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