Time. Time is a luxury which came in scarce supply for me in May. May was heavy on heartache and light on rain. May was heavy on work related stress and light on peace-of-mind. May was heavy on new puppy and light on restful night sleeps. And my garden? Well, it is still out there. Somehow, I found enough time to keep nearly everything alive that I wanted to be alive and kept the rest at bay.
First, a brief recap of some non-gardening events in my life. Work as been a clusterfuck as of late. We have been installing the machines from our sister plant which began to close down at the beginning of the year. The machines are not in the best shape. While the bulk of the labor has been performed by outside contractors, it has still been quite an ordeal. Now due to increased backlogs and suffering quality, we are going to return to twelve hour shifts, seven days a week. Unlike the last time, however, I shall be retaining my eight hour a day, six day a week schedule because I am an “integral member of the support staff,” or some such thing. I am so integral that they are buying me a Blackberry which I will have to wear at all times. So, the plant will never close and I will now be on-call every waking and non-waking moment of my life.
One of my dogs, Malcolm, passed away suddenly from Canine Degenerative Myelopathy this month. I really don’t have too much else to say about it. I still miss him. Our other dog, Teague, seems to have aged considerably in the past weeks. She seems depressed and lethargic and lays around more which aggravates her arthritis that she has in her knees and right hip. So to cheer the household up we got a new puppy. We named him Lemmy after the singer of Motorhead. Lemmy is a little devil of a boxerlette. He is eight weeks old and is starting, finally, to sleep through the night without having to go potty. He seems to grow every day. I am sure now that he shat out the mass of roundworms that were killed by his first dose of heartworm prevention medicine, that he will grow even faster. He is even helping in the garden. This is, of course, not very helpful because he wants to destroy everything.
So, while Lemmy attempts to climb up the chicken wire, I keep one eye on him and one eye at all of the nutgrass that is infesting the garden. A writeup is forthcoming on this weed, but briefly, it is a sedge which is very hard to eradicate. The plant is easily removed by hand weeding or with a hoe, but is attached to a nutlet via an umbilical root. Thus, the above ground plant is dispatched but a new one quickly re-grows from the nutlet. It propagates by seed and by runner. I killed the above ground plants last year by covering much of it with a tarp. However the nutlets survived and I spread them throughout the garden when I rototilled this spring. Nutgrass is heavily infesting at least 35% of my garden now. I fear that I may have to cancel much of my fall garden plans to kill it with a nutgrass-specific herbicide.
It has been a dry and warm May. Sunshine has been plentiful. The Broccoli Raab was able to grow very large before it produced flower heads. For about a week it was my “go-to” green which I put in pasta, soups and stir-frys until my wife was sick of eating it. It was so plentiful that I have practically ignored the spinach. Speaking of which, the Emu variety of spinach that I planted really does have exceptional bolt resistance. We have had many 80 degree and 90 degree days this spring and the spinach is still nice and mellow. I highly recommended this cultivar for hotter climates. I have used it a couple of times after the raab bolted in pasta. I have also made a few salads with it, the Allstar Lettuce Mix and baby golden beet tops.
Speaking of beets, I have been paying extra special attention to weeding and thinning my Touchstone golden beets. I am so thrilled! I have over thirty plants which are making big beetroots. Many are racquetball sized to tennis ball sized. The carrots and the cabbages are doing very nicely as well. It won’t be long now before I have the makings of June Peasant's Stew again!
I sowed my summer crops about a month ago. I successfully germinated three rows each of two different varieties of “supersweet” corn. This type of corn has a sugary enhancer enzyme gene which will result in very sweet, snappy tasting corn. It will have a longer refrigerator life than conventional sweet corn. It can be difficult to start, however, and I am proud to have done well this year so far. I wish I could say the same of my cucumbers. I had very poor germination of both varieties that I planted. Out of 60 seeds I have only nine plants. They seem very slow to grow as well. I wonder if the cucumber beetles have something to do with it.
We had a wet spell earlier in the month and afterwards, I applied my beneficial nematodes to the soil. Right about this time of year, cucumber beetles should have emerged from hibernation and will be looking for host plants to lay their eggs near. Their grubs will hatch with the intent on eating the young roots of my cucumbers, squash and melons, but millions of Heterorhabditis bacteriophor shall be lying in wait to invade their grubby little bodies. The nematodes’ offspring will devour the grubs from the inside, spawning millions of more nematodes. This gruesome cycle wshall continue indefinitely all year. The grubs won’t stand a chance. It will be genocide! At least that is the plan. We’ll see.
Anyway, the cukes are a disappointment, but the "Tasty-Bite" melons have germinated nicely and I have three groups which are growing well. The yellow squash are doing nicely as well but the zucchini plants are a bit on the small side. Not that I have any reason to worry about the zukes.
My beans benefited from the warm weather as well. The big lima beans germinated uniformly enough and were immediately attacked by slugs. The little bastards got about half of them in one night! Out came the diatomaceous earth to slay them in their slimy trails! The green beans did not suffer as much. Both types of beans are doing very well now. Rounding out the gardening news: the little fennel sprouts are growing well, potato plants are about a foot tall, the onion plants are nice and tall, the okra is on the small side and the eggplants just don’t seem to want to grow very much at all.
For the time being, the bounty of the week is broccoli. I have already made a couple big pots of broccoli soup and have had roasted broccoli as side dishes. I have some peas as well, but not enough plants grew this year to really do anything more with them than eat them fresh right out of the garden. That is a delight in of itself! After the broccoli, the cauliflower shall be ready in a week or so. Strawberries are becoming ripe and thereafter, more blackberries and raspberries than I will know what to do with!
If I am coming across all Martha Stewart like, I must admit that I really have been so busy lately that I have been leaving a lot more in the garden than I am harvesting and cooking. I believe that one of the allures of gardening is that it connects me to a simpler life. Just the act of taking a half hour to carry water or to hoe the rows or to make a simple pot of soup brings me invaluable peace and contentment on some deep level. Really, I should have been out weeding by floodlight like a REAL gardener. Momomom does. After all, it won’t be long now before mosquito season is upon me. Well, that is all for now. See you next when it is summer!