Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (8)

This week at KinderGARDENs is the Kids and Cameras assignment. Alas, little Bean still hasn't totally grasped the camera concept, though he does like to look at the pics on the little screen at the back, and he recognizes himself now, which is pretty adorable. Anyway, I thought I'd just put in a bunch of pics of him around the yard lol. This little corner by the lilac is his favourite spot back there, I think because we leave him to dig and mess around and don't say 'No' the way we do everywhere else :) Note his little weed patch there haha. We actually didn't even know this bush was a lilac, it didn't bloom the last two summers we've lived here. Everything seems to be going bloom crazy this year, on our flowering shrubs and in the neighbourhood, it's quite beautiful. There's a grapevine on a fence we walk by often, and it is covered with teeny tiny grape clusters, it's so exciting! Not sure what confluence of factors (weather, etc.) conspired to make it that way, but I like it!

Bean does like to dig around everywhere else that we do say 'No' Here he is by our tomatoes and peppers trying to thin the cabbages. Note the handy dandy whirly-dos that label the rows, they were like 6 for a dollar or something at the garden store. We have tomato, pepper, carrot, peas, and onion ones, it's fun. In the week or so since this pic was taken, the tomatoes have like mutated into Huge Plant Beasts. They have outgrown their cages, I don't know what to do about it. I hope the flowering they're doing means they'll soon be putting more energy into fruit production than branch production. I've seen more bees this year than last, which is so encouraging. They must be happy about the extra flowering I've noticed, too.

At the other end of the home garden bed, we have our onions and lettuces coming up. I want to thin the lettuces, they're a hearting variety, so I need to give them room to actually heart. In the rest of the bed, I've added a little eggplant uh plant in the midst of our soybeans. Only four came up, but I'm thankful for those four! Edamame, here I come! One package of lettuce seeds seems to have died over the winter, so our third row of lettuces needs to be replanted with the seeds that lived. It's kind of convenient how this turned us into succession planters lol. We've always wanted to be the kind of people who use things like Forethought and Planning to do succession planting, so we don't have like forty lettuces maturing at the same time, much faster than we can eat them ourselves.

I thought Bean would be more enamored by the peonies actually, being such large blooms and so accessible to his little hands, but he seemed satisfied to (mostly) just look. A heavy rain has hastened their wilt-age. I wish peony blooms lasted all summer, they smell so beautiful. The irises are already done for the year :( I'd like to start pilfering some of the other colours of irises I see around the neighbouhood. How do y'all ask people for plants? I know most gardeners are probably pretty generous about it - well, I can't say that. I know my mom and Papa Bean's aunts have been very generous about donating plants and seeds, but I don't know about perfect strangers. But if someone walking by asked me for some of my irises, and I had some that'd be easily divided, I wouldn't hesitate to share. There are some very very dark purple ones a few houses down that I'd love, and there are several houses with all yellow ones that I've never seen before, very unique!

I planted seeds for a number of cucurbits at the big garden: white marrow, yellow zucchini, green zucchini, acorn squash, cantaloupe, and butternut squash. I planted them in circles (like the packets always suggest) instead of rows (as we've done in the past, only to have the vines run out of room) and with some of the seeds being from last year, I worried it wouldn't all come up. But I have six little circles of sprouts just like the picture coming up, so I guess the seeds remained viable. It interesting to see them all so close together, I always felt their sprouts all look the same, but they actually have (subtle) differences, and it's a nice learning experience. I realize there are waaaaaay too many sprouts in the circle pictured: I'll thin it down to about three plants. I may even transplant some of the extras, because I fear there will be bald areas in our big garden. None of the beans appear to have germinated (!!) and I have four rows of them... I don't know why I thought we needed four rows of beans, other than to fill space, but I also don't need nine plants of zucchini LOL. And I think it's easier to give away beans... everyone gets sick of donated zucchini in a few months. Have you heard people joke about Ding-and-Dashing their neighbours, leaving zucchinis on the steps? We may have to resort to that.

We also have a pumpkin plant and a giant pumpkin plant. There'll be many viney-vines out there this year! Hope we can coach them to stay in our plot and not encroach on our neighbours' plots. One part of community gardening we've really enjoyed is watching how other people do things. There are some garden superstars who have the cleanest (weed-free-est) plots with plants that look weeks and weeks ahead of anyone else's growth. There's another woman who mulches aggressively with grass clippings. All the superstars call her Crazy Grass Lady, which is sad. As you can see, we mulch with grass in our home plot, and it is wonderfully effective at keeping weeds down. But we bow to peer pressure and don't really use it at the big plot, we don't want to be called crazy, too... I do admire Crazy Grass Lady for sticking to her gardening guns and standing up for her techniques. On the other hand, she really over waters, and I don't like seeing her waste that resource.

I've conveniently labeled the last pic to show where the actual potato plants are, because it's understandably confusing when there's so many other green things around. Blasted weeds. This is a pictorial representation of how overwhelming the weeds get at the big garden. This is why grass mulching (or any kind of mulching really) would be such a good idea out there (yet still we are chickens...) I spent about an hour pulling up just the biggest thistles to get this area cleaner. I'm getting so tough, I don't even wear gloves for the thistles anymore - RAwR! See me be TOUGH Mama Bean! I'm really digging (heehee punny) the take-off of summer - spring can be such a looooong exercise in patience; waiting for them to mark out the plots, waiting for it to dry up enough to till, waiting for the guy you're paying to till to actually till it, waiting for magical days when one spouse can watch the kids while the other goes out to frantically plant things, waiting for the things you've planted to germinate, waiting to get to the store to buy more seed because you woefully underestimated how much you'd need for your giant garden, waiting waiting waiting. This is what gardening is about, right? But now that the heat is taking off and there are actual green things coming out of the ground, now is lovely and exciting and fun! There's just one month of this until the crazy superfluousity of August arrives, when the plants and weeds are huge and the heat is intense and everything sort of starts to mature way too quickly, and it's the opposite of waiting, it's everything piling up at once. I like August and everything, it's just a little stressful, in the opposite way that the waiting of May and June is stressful. So this little pause in July, when everything's just starting and revving up and is beautiful, this is nice. This might be my favourite time of summer :)

This is a long post for KinderGARDENs, sorry! Check out Kim's blog for everyone's Kids and Cameras assignments - I'm excited to go read them myself!
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  1. ding and dash...I'll have to remember that:) My tomatoes are crazy monsters too...I just put another cage on top of the first and wrapped the 3 wires around the first to extend it.

  2. ah - the gardeners who didn't use Forethought and Planning and have 40 lettuces ready at the same time - I think you're talking about us! :)

    i think comparing notes (mentally or out loud) with the other gardeners would be the funnest part - and maybe the most frustrating part, too - of community gardening. i'm amused when we are out working in the garden and we get advice from our neighbor on how to do things. we often listen, though - she's been around the block a few more times than we have. :)

    we are very vine-y here, too - hoping things don't get out of control with the zucchini, squash, cucumber, cantaloupe, watermelon, gourds, pumpkins...

    i think july is my favorite, too - the rush to get everything in the ground is over, and the rush to get stuff picked and frozen/dried/canned/eaten hasn't started yet - i can just go out there and watch things grow. :)

  3. May I suggest the book 'gardening without work' by Ruth Stout. She mulches the living daylights out of everything and frankly her book is hysterical! She even gardens her 70's!!!

    Anyway, LOVE you update and yes I'm guessin' that nine zucchini plants may be a bit much, lol! Kim

  4. I would suggest striking up a conversation about the iris. Then ask if they seed. Then ask if you could get some seeds. If the person has a clue they'll suggest just giving you some starts and it will be "their idea". If not, then you'll have seeds and you can try the next house down. I intend on digging up some purple iris down at the soccer fields. Our ditches are full of them and I want the leafy plant around the pool...I don't even care about the flowers.

    I've always wondered about mulching with grass. I was always afraid it would grow...grass. Guess not. I may have to try that because I only got through one and half beds today with my weeding. They are going wild.

    As for the zucchini...shred it and measure it into loaf amounts. Freeze it and then you can pop a bag out, thaw and make a loaf of bread any time you want. Also, make zucchini "pasta". Damn best spaghetti I've ever had in my life. One can never have too much zucchini. :)

    And being that you are an adjuster I could sure use you right now!! I've been an avid patient since I was 17, but haven't been in over a year. My hips pop out, and one is out, and it is traveling up my side and into my ribs. The muscle spasm literally prevented me from driving home last night and I had to have my unlicensed 15-year old drive. I've always had back pain, but this was different!! Maybe someday your healing hands can work its magic on me!! :)