Sunday, July 3, 2011

Yesterday's Open Garden

Yesterday's was my least attended summer open garden (at least for a long time), but was as delightful as all the others. The weather was warm but not oppressive and the people who come to these affairs always raise my hope for the human race.

"Does the electric fence work?"
"Well, maybe. The collards and pac choi have been left alone since it was there. Only one small part of the sugar snap peas were damaged from the inside. But the broccoli is taken, so something is getting inside. Yesterday Fred was coming around toward the back door from the driveway, and he met a woodchuck. It charged at him! He jumped aside. We aren't free of woodchucks, but except for broccoli, we are getting good harvests."

"I have holes in the ground in my garden."
"That's skunks. Bob McClean told me I should be grateful for them because they dig for slugs, which gardeners don't want. They are considerate in that they dig BETWEEN the plants, and rarely damage anything I care about. They do their digging at night, so it doesn't worry me directly." Occasionally, I smell signs of their wanderings, but we haven't had any skunk dramas in our yard.

"How do you fertilize the zucchini?"
This was in response to my reporting that I had fertilized my first female yesterday, which is VERY late for zucchini. Until last year I harvested my first zucchini on June 26; it was the most prompt crop in the garden. Last year it was very early, and this year it is very late -- more like a normal crop!
After hesitating with this question, I was taught the proper zucchini words. "I pick off a male flower, eat the petals, and put the pistol into the stamen of a female flower."

People told me they are having trouble with Malabar spinach this year. "You too?"
They always take a long time to germinate, but this year not as many germinated, either in my greenhouse window or volunteered in the garden. I will have a crop. I showed off my Malabar spinach plants, but people looked almost in distain at their small size. "That's all?" Others told me they had tried without success to germinate seeds, either those they took from me last year or those they had gleaned from their own plants.

Many years recently I've given away Malabar volunteer seedlings, but not this year. They are all salvaged for my own garden! There aren't many.

I've given away over 200 tomato plants (not quite the same!) and there are still some on the front steps if you want to come to 56 Gordonhurst to get them.

One family who had been here before in July agreed with me that raspberries are VERY different this year. There were some, but not many. "The other time we were here they were all over the bushes!"

All the volunteer misplaced raspberry plants were taken to welcoming homes.

Not all the oregano plants had such luck. If you are interested in oregano, let me know.

Life is humbling. If yours isn't enough so, just start a garden. For years I've said you can't pick raspberries before they are ripe, as I do strawberries, but in desperation, I picked some this year. Lo and behold! They are ripening on my counter! And they are quite good afterward. Apologies. If your catbirds or purple grackles are taking your red raspberries (as mine are this year), try picking them as soon as you can persuade them to leave their home. What's to lose? I apologize
for misleading you before.

One sad aspect of yesterday's event was the number of people who came JUST before the tour was ending. Poor Trina had the job of shooing the downcast eyes out of my back yard while I went in to rest. My body doesn't have the energy it did 35 years ago, with both the challenges of myasthenia gravis and old age. My doctor said if I don't slow down, I will die sooner than I need to. I really want to live (my life is so enjoyable now!), but I'm much more scared by my grandmother's example. She ignored her doctor's similar advice, despite the begging of my parents and others who cared about her, and she had a stroke that resulting her last 15 years being unable to walk or talk. Not walking is a big nuisance but not being able to talk is a great tragedy for someone with her personality or mine.

So my gardens will be open only two hours at a time EARLY in the tour period. Next time will be Saturday, Sept. 17, from 2-4 PM and there will be a butterfly tent in the front year. See you then!


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