Thursday, March 16, 2006

Oh God, do I even want to go there this year... 

Against Lawn

The midnight streetlight illuminating
the white of clover assures me

I am right not to manicure
my patch of grass into a dull

carpet of uniform green, but
to allow whatever will to take over.

Somewhere in that lace lies luck,
though I may never swoop down

to find it. Three, too, is
an auspicious number. And this seeing

a reminder to avoid too much taming
of what, even here, wants to be wild.

Copyright (c) 2004 by Grace Bauer

  (5) That's not how you do it! Kelly, you're such a dolt!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

At it again, albeit slowly 

Over the past week, I've put the tomatoes in that I got from the farmers market, and the Red Cheese peppers, plus a couple of the tomatoes that Rob's mom gave me. I put them all in big pots or in the dirt-filled trunk that I call the "Asian Soup Garden." I'm paranoid about putting anything in the ground because of the

(whew... earthquake! 4.8 and epicenter about 4 miles from me...)

Anyhoo... paranoid about putting anything in the ground, because of the random bug problems that I'm having. I'm still not sure where to put the squash that Carol gave me, but it's got to go in the ground soon.

  (2) That's not how you do it! Kelly, you're such a dolt!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Well, she's good for SOMETHING 

Mothers-in-law. Feh. My MIL and I have always resided on completely different planes of existence. These two planes very rarely intersect. But... I've always admired her way with a garden.

Her back yard is a rambling, shambling mess of roses, hollyhocks, primroses, shade trees, vines and creepers, and assorted pretties that she finds at garden centers and brings home to let run to riot. I love her garden because its the antithesis of planning and forethought. If I were to try to duplicate it, I would fail miserably. It's just a comfortable, informal space that people actually like to hang out in. There are twinkle lights in the trees, and a couple of fountains, and two porch swings, and the entire yard is dripping with dangling, twirling geegaws that catch the breeze or dance in the sunlight. My son loves it. This last trip home, the family gathered out on the back porch and drank and talked late into the night. My husband and I wandered around and smooched among the Agapanthus(es?) after it got dark.

She always sends me home with cuttings or seeds or full-grown plants, which I have horrible to moderate success with. Yesterday, she sent me home with Sweet Dumpling squash seeds, three volunteer tomato plants from her pepper pots and a volunteer squash from her compost heap, and a shit-load more cuttings from her pink primroses, since I've been pretty lucky with those so far. She also sent me home with a mesh onion bag full of "naked ladies" (Amaryllis belladonna). We'll see how those weather out here in the desert...

We'll probably never see eye-to-eye on anything, and are probably destined to drive each other crazy for the rest of our days, but we've found a peaceable kingdom in her back yard, with my son--her grandson--flitting about from pot to dirt pile to fountain to pot, and she and I companionably digging up pieces of this and that, a handing-down of plants and green wisdom, all arguments and petty squabbling set aside for at least one afternoon.

  (0) That's not how you do it! Kelly, you're such a dolt!

Sunday, June 12, 2005


I guess its just easier at this point to name off the plants that are still viable than to list what has died:

Acorn Squash
Tigger Melon
Golden Sweet Melon
All six Lavenders
Sage, Oregano, Mint, Chives

Plus the hot peppers and loofah, but only because they were still residing on my kitchen counter the night of the (doot-doot-daaaah.....) FREEZING RAIN.

Monday night around 10 pm, I'm sitting here at work, and I notice some kind of movement outside my window. I peer out, and wouldn't ya know... it's snowing. Not a flurry, not a sprinkling, but all-out snow. My window overlooks the dumpster and the parking lot of the Mexican restaurant next door, none of which was visible because of the DRIVING SNOW.

So I finish up here, race home, and it had been raining down there. Bad news. I would've probably been better off if it had been snowing down in the valley. DH followed me around with a flashlight in the back garden while I put plastic bottles, kitchen bowls, cardboard boxes, basically everything I could get my hands on, over my plants. I brought in everything that I was still hardening off.

The temps continued to dive during the night, and when I checked on everything in the morning, the tomato plants were all standing tall and proud and bright green, but only because they were completely and perfectly frozen in place. As soon as the sun hit them, they collapsed in a black and soupy mess. As did the pattypan squashes. And the basil and lemongrass.

I went to the farmer's market on Wednesday and bought a few plants: SugarPie pumpkin, Rainbow scallop squash, Green Zebra tomato and Black Plum tomato. The plant booths were doing a booming business, because everyone's plants here in the area died Monday night. That was comforting at least, to know that it wasn't just me. The lady that I bought the squashes from had the audacity to tell me, "Terrible, just terrible... but GREAT for me!"

Last week, I dug up all my winter squashes and tossed them out on the compost pile, and started new with seed. The only one to sprout so far is the Black Futsu.

I also decided last week to pot up the lavenders instead of putting them in the ground. A lot less work, and more portable in case we move anytime soon. Six lavenders sold as the "Learning to Love Lavender" six-pack from Mountain Valley Growers: Alardii, Sweet, Dutch Mill, English, Fred Boutin and Provence. They're in 10-inch pots right now. A bit on the small side, but I'll either put them in the ground next spring or pot up into bigger containers. Assuming I don't kill them before then.

The entire family went to the farmers market, and we bought shaved ice and ate it in the park afterwards. I fell in love with the little garden area where we sat down and ate. The picnic tables are underneath a shady, trellised area, and right next to that is a beautiful little perennial garden with a gravel path and raised beds. The only things I could identify without a book or anything were mullein, japanese maple, russian sage, lavender and artemisia. I've been obsessing about it ever since. It would be so easy to put together something like that if we actually lived in a place that we owned.

Everyone's roses are obscenely prolific right now. It's so disheartening to drive around town and see people's ugly-ass, neglected, weed-filled yards, absolutely EXPLODING with gorgeous roses. They didn't do a god-damned thing in the way of gardening, but are rewarded with these beautiful displays of roses. I, on the other hand, have worked my ass off this spring, only to be rewarded with fresh fodder for the compost pile.

Boy, this is the worst garden of any garden anywhere, ever. Meanwhile, I still torture myself with episodes of Victory Garden, Curb Appeal and City Gardener on television, thinking to myself, yeah, try growing some o' that shit *here* in one of the most inhospitable environments on planet earth.

This is all too much to bear...

  (0) That's not how you do it! Kelly, you're such a dolt!

Monday, May 30, 2005

What's the opposite of success? 

Resounding failure! At least in the winter squash department. I covered my squashlings with soda bottles last night, cuz it was kinda breezy and felt like it would probably go into the low 40s by morning. I uncovered them this morning and took a good, hard, honest look at them. They suck ass, bigtime. I'm going to give them another few days to see if they perk up or not, but, when they don't, I have a couple choices:

* Tear them out and plant seed. It's a late start, I know. I'd be gambling against early September frosts like I did the first time I planted them two years ago (I lost, BTW). But they did so well, and were sooo healthy through the summer. But the heartbreak of the early frost cannot compare to the heartbreak I'm feeling now for my little guys. This is a definite "maybe."

* Tear them out and replace them with something from the garden center. I'd really like to try an eggplant, maybe some bell peppers.

These are the squash that are affected: Red Kuri (Hokkaido), Black Futsu, Winter Luxury Pie and Sweet Dumpling. The Black Futsu are the most viable of the bunch, maybe salvageable, maybe not. I tore out the Winter Luxes last night and threw them on the compost heap. Those are the ones that we're eaten by something. The Red Kuri and the Sweet Dumplings are just sad, sad, sad. Weirdly, these are all the plants that I put in on the east side of the garden.

On the other side of the garden, the Table Queens are perky and healthy, and so are the melons. The Yellow Scallops and the Costata Romanescos look kinda baked, but look like they're taking hold and will make some sort of comeback.

List of things to do early Wednesday morning, before the Jakester wakes up (I'll have to work super-fast):

* Get the tomatoes in the ground
* Pot up the lavenders (I decided to plant these in containers, after looking about on the web yesterday, and reading that it is possible to pot these guys. Next year, I'll probably have to put them in the ground, but pots are good for this year)
* Get the sunflowers in the ground
* Get the loofas in the ground
* Pot up the rest of the herbs in the Asian Soup Garden (I found Thai basil plants at Lowe's yesterday! Their cilantro was horrible-looking, so I picked up some oregano and sage, instead. Not very Asian, I know, but will fill in the gaps and will taste great with tomatoes later on.)

I feel so bad about my pumpkins. They were the whole reason I wanted to start this garden this year. I probably will try to start some seeds. I wonder what I did wrong.... Scratch that, in hindsight, I know what I did wrong. I started the squash seeds waaaaaay too early. So in essence, I was transplanting full-grown plants. A definite no-no. Well, live and learn. Next year will be different.

  (0) That's not how you do it! Kelly, you're such a dolt!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Oh, the carnage. The CARNAGE! 

Yeah, not going so well thus far. I hardened my seedlings off for about a week. Okay, maybe not quite a week, but they were doing well, so in the ground they went late Thursday afternoon. All the cucurbits and the four melons. So far, so good. Friday morning I got up to check on everything and water before I went to work. One of the Winter Luxury Pie pumpkins was eaten down to bare stalk. All the leaves were eaten, leaving just the veins. Whatever had eaten it was gone by morning, and (I don't know what I was thinking!) I just left the other Winter Lux, hoping whatever had eaten its mate was satiated and would leave it alone the following night. It did! But last night... it came back and ate the other one. So, goodbye, Winter Lux for this year. No punkin pies. We'll try again next year.

Other than that, still no good news. It was really windy yesterday. REALLY windy. The wind really boffed my plantlets about, and they're looking kinda the worse for wear. AND... the 4x4 foot square where I was supposed to put the loofas, HUGE anthill. Don't tell anybody, but I let Rob "Ortho Ant B Gon" them again yesterday. So I'll probably rip out the Winter Luxes tonight and put the loofas there. Yes, I'll cover them up at night with plastic bottles. In fact, I'll cover *everything* up tonight.

The Thai basil and cilantro that I tried to start from seed is not doing well at all, either. They're under lights in the garage. They keep drying out faster than I can water them. I'm not crazy about trying to start herbs from seed, but its hard to find the herbs that you really really want at the garden center. The mint and chives went into their planters in the Asian Soup Garden yesterday, and (knock knock) they seem to be doing well so far.

I still need to put the tomatoes in the ground, but I'm scared shitless at this point. I have absolutely NO confidence anymore. They look so strong and healthy right now, I'm afraid I'll ruin them. Same with the lavender and the lemon grass that I got in the mail last week.

I read up on how to plant the lavenders, and its going to be a huge project for this coming Wednesday and Thursday: mixing up compost, gravel, sand, native soil and lime, and making six separate mounds. Not to mention weeding and loosening the soil underneath each mound. Yawn.

So, here's my current list of stuff to do:

* Plant tomatoes, loofa and sunflowers in the ground
* Plant lemongrass and peppers in containers
* Prepare soil for and then plant the lavenders

This is definitely more fun when there's less carnage.

  (0) That's not how you do it! Kelly, you're such a dolt!

Friday, May 20, 2005

American Life in Poetry poem forwarded to me today… 

This poem makes me want to plant moonflowers...

Milly Sorensen, January 16, 1922 - February 19, 2004

It was the moonflowers that surprised us.
Early summer we noticed the soft gray foliage.
She asked for seedpods every year but I never saw them in her garden.
Never knew what she did with them.
Exotic and tropical, not like her other flowers.
I expected her to throw them in the pasture maybe,
a gift to the coyotes. Huge, platterlike white flowers
shining in the night to soften their plaintive howling.
A sound I love; a reminder, even on the darkest night,
that manicured lawns don't surround me.

Midsummer they shot up, filled the small place by the back door,
sprawled over sidewalks, refused to be ignored.
Gaudy and awkward by day,
by night they were huge, soft, luminous.
Only this year, this year of her death
did they break free of their huge, prickly husks
and brighten the darkness she left.

Poem copyright by Karma Larsen.

  (0) That's not how you do it! Kelly, you're such a dolt!

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