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Monday, October 29, 2007

More of my new garden story

If anyone is arriving here from Weekend Snapshot, my WS post is below this one or you can click here. If anyone is interested in my new garden story, here it comes.
I am thinking of my current gardening venture as my new garden story as opposed to the old garden story which I summarized in my garden story post. The plant above is a volunteer cleome which has sprung up in one of my garden boxes. The problem is that cleome is a summer flower and it won't survive the winter, even in the protected box . Therefore, it's a weed by any other name, which means it's taking up room from a planned crop. My first cleome was a gift from a neighbor who had it volunteering in a spot where she didn't have room for it. Therefore, she let me dig it up and start some cleome in my garden. Each year it came back and spread out to new spots and I had a ton of cleome which I love. The cleome below was growing during the summer of 2000 and turned a path into a cleome riot.
This year, cleome was a casualty of the drought. The only watering I did all summer was a little hand watering with a watering can and that didn't include very many flowers. My roses were one of the few things that got watered occasionally. Basically what could adapt survived and what couldn't didn't. I assumed that was it for the cleome which I've had, beginning with my neighbor's plant, for over a decade. I could of course buy seeds another year but it's not the same. A new crop of cleome is springing up as a result of my hand watering my fall greens, followed by some blessed soaking rains. Sadly, this time of year, it needs to be treated as a weed and pulled up because it will take away nutrients from plants that can be coddled for months to come, even after a hard frost. Cool season plants only need protection from the boxes tops which I put on while the sun is still heating them up in the afternoon. I just saw that we are having hard frost warning this week so I'll have to start covering my boxes for the night soon.Another hard one for me is the volunteer tomato plant. Yep, you heard me right. That healthy plant above which is growing like a weed in the middle of my lettuce is a tomato plant. I didn't even grow tomatoes this year. This is my first year in 30 years that I didn't bother with tomato plants. Apparently some of the seeds from past crops and fruits which didn't get picked remained viable enough to spring up in the middle of my lettuce. Tomatoes aren't going to grow in the winter in a climate which gets hard frost and some snow. It ain't gonna happen no matter how much solar heat my boxes get. Which means that 3 foot tall healthy tomato plant is a weed, sucking nutrients away from viable plants. It's hard for me to pull it up. Before you start feeling too sorry for me, how about that lettuce?
I'm thinning the lettuce every day for delicious salads. The radishes are about ready to start picking too. The baby spinach and carrots are coming along too. I have 4 boxes filled with food. Even better is the rain. We had days of rain and I've collected close to 100 gallons of water. The run off from the gutters filled two 34 gallon trash cans with water the second day of rain. The rain and unseasonably warm autumn have made all sorts of odd things happen. Spring and summer flower beds have decided to have a go at the growing season they didn't get because of the drought. The iris bulbs and lilies that didn't bloom this summer have decided to grow like crazy this autumn. I've even spotted a few buds so maybe I'll have iris and lily blooms covered in frost. I photographed roses in the snow a few years ago which I loved.
Even the morning glories are having a last hooray. It's such a mixture of autumn and spring everywhere I look. The big thing though is I'm pretty relaxed. I'm willing to enjoy the surprises and not worry too much about what this bodes for the actual growing season. I have a feeling there will still be some seeds hanging around that will stay viable until May, when they will have a shot at producing plants that will get an actual chance to survive.
I'm looking forward to the autumn foliage which is still in the early stages of changing where I live. We're usually a couple of weeks behind the mountains. That's part of the fun I get from a mountain trip in the fall. It spreads out the enjoyment of the autumn blaze. In general, I'm enjoying watching the season's surprises play out. I need to pull up my cleome and tomato plants soon. They are weeds when they start at a time they can't grow, in the middle of plants that can. That is sensible but I think I'll hold off. It's simply too much fun to see the crazy mixed up seasons in my crazy patchwork quilt of a garden.

15 comments:

Smalltown RN said...

that is so cool...I learnt a lot on this visit....I am not a green thumb at all...I really want to be but there is so much to learn...and even my rose bush the deer ate this year...and what they don't eat the bunnies do...or my dog digs them up...so frustrating...but i keep on trying....

thanks for your comments on my post today....I hope you didn't feel I was American bashing as I wasn't...like you I was surprised that when then found out about the error they didnt'try to correct it...just seemed so odd...

hoping your are having a great day...cheers...

Carver said...

Thanks for visiting. I know a lot of people that have trouble with deer in their gardens. I have a lot of bunnies but they seem happy with the weeds. I'm serious. The get as far as the weedy area which is supposed to be a path and they eat the weeds and never make it to the lettuce and carrots or even bulbs. Squirrels dig up the bulbs sometimes but not too bad since I have so many acorns and pecans they can get. I didn't think you were American bashing at all.

Miss Melanoma said...

Carver,
I can't wait to see your pics of the autumn foliage, either! Thanks for your post on my blog, I was really touched by your thoughts on your dad. Love the pics, once again.

-L

Carver said...

Thanks Lori. I think of you often.

karoline said...

oh my..only 8 months until i can dream of gardening again...

*sigh*

Carver said...

Hi Karoline, I am lucky to be able to continue gardening although we'll see. If I don't stay on top of it, I won't be able to garden. I covered the boxes this afternoon when my desktop was flashing hard frost warnings at me. It's easy this time of year when we've had a warm fall to forget to stay on top of it and it would be easy to end up with zapped plants.

Theresa said...

I am so jealous of your lettuce. When we relandscaped our back yard two years ago, I made a spot for a garden, but as of yet I haven't started it yet.
My dad always had big gardens and I miss picking my fresh vegtables daily.
Enjoy your salads!

Carver said...

Hi Theresa, that's good that you have a spot for a garden that is ready when you are. I bet when the time is right you'll do it.

jmb said...

Everything is doing very well here Carver. The cleome photo is wonderful. Too bad they are not going to survive.
I love the pumpkins in the post below. Halloween is a fun time for us all.
regards
jmb

Ah Bong said...

u hav wonderful green fingers

Carver said...

Thanks JMB and ah Bong.

AscenderRisesAbove said...

what an amazing winter garden you have going on there. I have a very confused tulip that is coming up in my orange tree planter. I know I am supposed to pull those bulbs out; but that seems so much work - digging them out, putting them in a bag and hiding them in the dark. I don't know how you do it out there collecting rain water for your thirsty plants - what an inspiration!

Carver said...

Thanks Ascender. I know what you mean about how much work it is digging up bulbs from the planter. Most of my bulbs are in naturalized areas of my garden where I just have to mulch really deep and then rake off the mulch in the spring. However, with the ones that are starting to grow, I really should dig them up as they are probably too confused to make it if I don't.

AscenderRisesAbove said...

"naturalized" that is what I am going to call my tulips which I am too lazy to dig out! It is just too far a distance to go from standing to my knees to get to them. ;-) I bet you are a master gardener aren't you?

Carver said...

That made me laugh. Yep, naturalized is a term I use a lot to excuse laziness. I can see my neighbors rolling their eyes since most of them don't appreciate how natural I am. I'm not a master gardener although I like the idea of those programs, particularly since they involve volunteering in community gardens. I took a fair amount of horticulture classes as electives (not my major or even close) and I took a course in conservation of natural resources. The latter is great when you want to say, I have a habitat garden as opposed to, I have a mess. Cheers.