Monday, May 24, 2010

Open Garden Report

What a lovely Saturday morning! Both the weather and the guests were delightful. The Open Garden was a success for me in the (usual) sense that it made me feel both happy and useful. There were, as usual, a variety of questions.

"How do you pinch the tomato plants?"
"I don't."
"But they say you should pinch them."
"It takes time, and I don't see any reason for it."
"I'm with you!"

"How do you turn your compost heap?"
"I don't. I tried at first, but it's a lot of work, and doesn't seem to be worth the trouble. I layer green and brown at about four inches, but it doesn't have to be at all exact. That seems to mix it enough for composting to happen in a couple months in the summer."

"What is that pile?"
"That's wood. It takes about a decade to compost, so I keep it
separate from the regular compost pile. Every decade or so, I take the top off, put it somewhere else, and take the good compost from the bottom. The regular compost heap takes less than a year, so I don't want the slow-composting sticks in it."

"Do you put weeds in the compost?"
"But then don't you have weed seeds in the compost?"
"No, it heats up to about 160 degrees, and that kills the weeds."

"That's nightshade," pointing to the wood pile. "I've been told
it is poisonous."
"Is it? It's not poisonous to the touch," I said, stroking it.
"I pull it out occasionally. I wouldn't eat it."

"Why do you have soap around?"
"Irish Spring Soap keeps away deer. I had one visit from deer
last year, and it was disastrous. I haven't had any more since I put the
soap around." It's wedged in various fencing and tomato cages.

"Shouldn't you take the flowers off the greens to make them last
"I've noticed that when flowers come, the plants are nearing the
end. I don't worry about them too much, except to remove them to get to
the leaves."

The group seemed tolerant of the fact that I have not planted out peppers and eggplant yet, for the first time in a May open garden. "It was below 50 degrees this week!" The group nodded. I've been cleaning out the mess (dominated by pretty white alyssum) where some of them will go, and discovered in the wilderness a remarkable number of tomato seedlings. Their location and appearance make me suspect they are children of last year's Burpees hybrid supersteak tomatoes. One never knows, of course, what children hybrids will have. However, I've potted up some and put them on the right side of my steps at 56 Gordonhurst Avenue.

I gave the last 3-pack of Saturday's Malabar spinach to a late leaver at the end, but since Saturday, seedlings have been proliferating in my garden. I potted up some today, which are on the left side of the aforementioned steps (alphabetic order). Help yourselves. I will try to keep up a supply in the next few days. Warning: Malabar needs to climb either a trellis or a fence. It tastes much like regular spinach, but is beautiful and last from mid-summer until frosty temperatures.

Today far too many arugula plants germinated. At least, I think they are arugula. The last packet turned out to be Chinese cabbage, but that's nice too. Management error, apparently - I save arugula seed. Are these worth potting up? I won't do it unless there are requests.

Happy gardening!


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