Saturday, June 28, 2008


Things have changed quickly to go from bloody freezing to hot as hell. In response I have been trying to water at least every second day and do that as late in the evening as possible to stop wasteful evaporation.

Last week I had lots of little helpers in the form of a horde of kids from the adjoining playground. As I opened the lock, three crowded round me begging to be allowed to water. Typical inner-city kids, they didn't know their plants (Btw, why is it that everything vaguely tall is always a "sunflower"? Today toxicfingers confused garlic with one.) Foolishly I didn't lock the gate after us, only to find the crowd suddenly swell to nine. They were a bit boisterous and overexcited - as I would have been at that age on a hot day with a waterhose - but thankfully they didn't trash the place too much and kept their fingers mostly away from the tempting strawberries in the neighbouring plots.

All this has kept me thinking about the community involvement in this garden - the plot "owners" are mainly white middle-class and middle-aged right smack-bam in the middle of a predominantly young Black and Latino area. It's also very interesting that there is a different garden not too far run by Seeds of Harmony which appears to be much more mixed in terms of ages, ethnicities, etc. And their garden looks much better. I wonder where Parks and Recreation is going wrong... maybe they should just give a plot to the horde of kids - I swear it would be the best-watered plot in the whole garden. And maybe some of them may even learn the difference between a sunflower and a tomato.

The obligatory pictures of plot progress follow. As it was already getting dark after watering they may look a bit strange. Everything is doing fine so far but lots of plants are bolting and going to seed, as expected in this hot weather.

I planted another cucumber and pepper plant. Beans are doing fine although something is eating them. If you squint you can see some carrots sprouting between the broccoli and the peppers.

Someof the collard is still recovering from being covered up.

Zucchini and patty pan squash going through a growth spurt. Just slightly concerned about the mottled-looking leaves of the zucchini - feature of the plant or first signs of mosaic virus?

The sweetcorn. I bet it feels lonely. Sigh. Maybe I should get it some companions.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

more planting

Today I got a worthy replacement for the loss of my English cucumber - "Orient Express". I'm going to nurture this little puppy to make it through. Let's see if coffee grounds can keep that nasty something away that killed the last plant. Again, I am trying to trellis it. There is more space so I may actually get more cucumber plants since it seems to be a challenge now.

Looking around the garden centre my eye also fell on some Swiss Chard "Rainbow" and some fava beans. It may actually be a little bit too warm already for the fava beans but it's worth an experiment. The spending spree ended with some seeds of mustard greens "Wild Garden Mild Mix". Everything was bedded down and tucked in.

As the plot takes shape I am now noticing some empty spaces that could be filled. I am contemplating more peppers. We eat a vast amount of them but they are expensive grocery items. Maybe also lettuce; I was too hasty in turning down some free starts earlier in the year. I feel a trip to the garden centre coming up again...

Friday, June 20, 2008

after a week away...

Apparently in my absence the weather was warm but overcast most of the days. Just as well considering I couldn't water. Yesterday and today were getting hotter. A quick check tonight revealed that everything was more or less ok, except the broccoli and some of the rocket had gone to seed. Still, I resowed some before I left and those seem to sprout (and there may be even be some carrots - yay!). Something seems to have eaten the English cucumber that I planted. Still, that means that I need - need! - to go to the garden centre for a replacement. A bit of cardboard had blown into the garden and covered up some of my collards. Still, they seem to have hung on to life. The squash and zucchini has germinated. The beans are coming up. Am I a bit to positive? ;)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

More planting

Today was nicer weather after a week of rain, rain, rain. The temperature had also dropped to nearly 50 degrees on Friday. It didn't seem to do the plants much harm, in fact, the sprouting broccoli seems to like it a bit wetter and cooler. Been harvesting it (delicious with garlic and olive oil with pasta or in a stir fry!). Also, the four strawberries I got so far were the sweetest I have ever had. The arugula is also very popular. I had almost forgotten how good home-grown food tastes.

I picked up an English cucumber plant at Garden Fever but since today was such a sunny day and I didn't have to lug around a lot of stuff I decided to cycle to the plot. It's a actually a fairly straightforward ride that can be done quite easily in 30 minutes.

Nobody at the garden which was a bit surprising - I would have assumed that the place would be hopping. I planted the cucumber underneath the bean poles to try if I can trellis it. Re-sowed some more collards and sprouting broccoli. As the soil is warming up I thought I'd try sowing the corn and also the summer squashes. If it doesn't work out I have more seeds. Let's hope it stays warm but moist for the next week, as I won't be able to water it for nearly a week.

I'm pleased with the growth so far (except the dang carrots...). I am also trying a few more ways of animal husbandry through selective planting. The marigolds I planted mid-week are very cheerful (got a whole crate cheaply) and they should keep aphids away. I also planted borage near the summer squash to attract more pollinating insects. And the coffee grounds definitely seem to work - none of the strawberries has been nibbled by slugs yet.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Second harvest and more prep

What a difference a couple of weeks can make.

There are now about 10 tomato plants in my plot plus 4 more in my backyard. What was left over from what I couldn't fit into my backyard went in yesterday (I see a tomato glut in my future...).

Toxicfingers gave me a contraption for my birthday that seems to be very popular here in the Northwest: the "wall-o-water". It's a ring of ribs that are filled with water and form a teepee around the plant. The water is supposed to heat up during the day and then radiate warmth back during the night. I used it to protect my most feeblest tomato plant, the Gold Nugget Cherry. (Note that the other tomato plants are looking fine and are indeed already flowering)

Everything is doing grand. Second harvest of the year has been some sprouting broccoli and arugula. Both are already starting to flower and I hope they are not too bitter for eating. I need to remember to reseed some more to keep them going over the summer.

The strawberries should also be ready soon (the handful that I will get out of it). So far no sign of slug nibbles; coffee grounds may actually work to keep them away.

The collards and potatoes are sprouting, too. Very exciting!

Started my first set of pole bean sowing, a mixture of Kentuck Wonder and some "Tuscan" beans I got on Earth Day at a community garden stall. I think soon the garden will really start to fill out.