Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Early fall surprises

Jose stopped by today with some wonderful, fresh grass clippings, always a way to make my heart leap. I used them first to finish mulching the Chinese cabbage, which looks promising for mid-winter. Then I noticed the nearby carrots had been neglected, and started mulching and thinning them.

Oh, dear! They have been nipped to the ground at least twice (I think three times) by woodchuck invaders, and although they appeared to be thriving, a close examination revealed sad non-developments. Apparently, I haven't thinned them recently enough, which is an opportunity for a mild guilt trip, but they haven't demanded attention compared to the rampant growth elsewhere in my yard. Carrots should be thinned to two inches in August, but I didn't get to it then. Alas, today it seemed like a July thinning. The best of the pulled carrots were "fingerlings," the size that we eat in July. Too many were the tiny things I usually see in June. None were the 4"-6" carrots that I am accustomed to in my August session. I hope that in the couple of months until the hard frost topples the carrot tops, the remaining roots will grow enough to provide the decent winter carrots to which I am accustomed. I had wonderful ones last year, so perhaps inferior ones this year are only fair.

Right in the middle of the carrot patch is a volunteer anti-woodchuck plant. At first I thought it had kindly popped itself down in a vacant spot in the patch. Then I wondered if it had killed the nearby carrots. Then I decided that if it did and it was the reason I now have growing carrots now, it was worth it. Then I decided to let it live. Then I reflected on the power that humans have over plants.

The good news is that as I approached the neighbor's fence, I noticed that the lettuce I planted in late summer is flourishing. Yum, yum for this evening's dinner!

Did any of you have success with the collard thinnings I gave out some weeks ago? My remaining ones have had a hard life, but I thought last week I had salvaged a decent number. However, then a few days later they had only stems! The leaves were gone. he healthy lettuce and carrot tops tell me it can't be woodchucks. At first I thought it was insects, but then I saw the largest wild rabbit I've ever seen in my yard. Has anyone let a pet rabbit loose near me? About the same time I noticed two clumps of volunteer collard plants among the tomato plants. Why would insects take the plants in the open but not fly through tomato cages? However, a rabbit.... I took some of that left-over chicken wire and put it around the collard stems. Today I saw new leaves on the plants. However, I noticed another collard plant whose leaves have turned to lace -- not likely the result of a hungry mammal.

A garden, like the rest of life, is full of surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant.


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