Sunday, July 12, 2015

Adventures in gardening: reflecting on efficiency and poor decisions

     My garden is borderline out of control.
     I’m not saying I’m not proud of the little raised bed box garden but I am slowly becoming intimidated by its’ size. In previous posts I’ve mentioned feeding, watering and composting as a way to keep the garden healthy and thriving.
     It’s thriving all right.
Things have gotten a bit out of hand.
     Coffee grounds, eggshells and Miracle Grow along with the garden hose have acted like an IV by providing nutrients galore to my bunching onions, chives, garlic, sage, basil and tomato plants. I’ve watched these little guys go from nursery school (see what I did there?) to out of control but delicious in a month’s time.
     As stated before, I’ve cut some of my basil to make basil infused olive oil, which will be done next week. A recent development is my chives and green onions are amazing. One of the coolest feelings is deciding you want to throw something extra into a dish and all you have to do is walk outside with a pair of scissors to cut some herbs from your garden. If there is one reason why a home garden is a good idea it is to have the satisfaction of changing a recipe on a whim because you suddenly want some chives in your mashed potatoes, much like I did the other night. Another fun thing was when I made coq au vin for the first time and instead of buying green onions while at the store I just wiggled some out of my garden.
Some of the roma tomatoes. Please note: I had to
lift some branches/leaves and bend down to find these.
     I feel so earth friendly and kitchen efficient.
     So let’s take a moment to talk about the poor decisions. As you can tell from my photos, my tomato plants are the definition of thriving. I have a rather large tomato, which is a bit bigger than a baseball, surrounded by a few more tomatoes on the celebrity plant and have quite a few romas coming in. Here’s the problem: I don’t know how many romas are hanging around because the branches and leaves of the five tomato plants all together have become so entwined I feel like a conquistador tromping through the Amazon. I know of at least six romas but there are so many blossoms in hidden places so I may have to wait for the tomatoes to turn red before I find them. The issue with waiting to spy them due to the color change is I don’t want them to start rotting on the vine because they’ve been left too long.
The huge celebrity tomato next to some of its' kin.
     The other poor decision is my onions. They were labeled as bunching onions and there were three to five of them in each quarter section of the pack. I bought two packs because I happen to love onions and after some research I found out bunching onions was another name for green onions. When I planted them, me being me, I didn’t think much about placing them from the quarter section right to the soil without breaking them up and planting them separately. What I’m admitting to is having three to five onions that should have bee spaced apart right on top of each other a total of eight times. It’s not affecting the growth so much as it’s incredibly difficult to pull the onions from the soil without pulling out a sibling that is still growing. Live and learn.
     Another issue has arisen: the beetles have landed.
     Just yesterday I flicked three off my tomato plants and glared as one flew by. Japanese beetles have been the one thing I haven’t figured out how to prevent other than using some kind of netting around my garden. I’m not sure if these little jerks are a problem everywhere but every summer our plants are swarmed with them at some point. Last year I even made a sport out of walking outside every half hour to shake the potted plants and watch at least 10-15 go flying. I admittedly also took pleasure in squashing them.
     I’m not ashamed.
     I’ve also been seeing more weeds pop up but they are still super small. Fun fact though: I stated before I thought the amount of weeds was because I have the garden in a raised bed and therefore nothing from the ground can come up. One of my mother’s tomato plants, which she keeps in a pot, had a huge weed coming right up from the middle of the pot. So I guess that blows my theory.
     To sum it all up the honeymoon period is over and in this marriage of college student and garden, we’ve moved into a fix-it-upper and it’s over-run by insects, covered in foliage and the only thing that works is the coffee brewer.
     Hopefully the next post will have a tomato or two off the vine.

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