Patience

Every time I’m in the garden I get a taste of the past:

I planted this two weeks ago, why isn’t it doing anything?

Present:

This is beautiful and, I really need to pull those weeds and tie these tomato vines before things get out of hand.

And future:

This variety isn’t doing so well, I’ll have to try something different next year. Or, Way too much basil. Way, way too much basil!

There are also nice surprises, like the last few carrots I picked a few days ago to add to the beef stew I was getting ready to make.

Carrots

Carrots

These are “Little Finger” carrots, an heirloom variety developed in France for canning and pickling, advertised to grow 3 to 4 inches long in just a few months. Mine were 8 to 10 inches long, but I planted them seven and a half months ago. The added time in the ground increased the size, but did nothing to diminish the flavor.

"Little Fingers" my Foot!

“Little Fingers” my Foot!

Once I rinsed the dirt off of them it was all I could do to put them in the stew pot, because they were crisp and oh so sweet, a reminder of how sometimes the simplest things can bring unexpected joy.

We’re still getting Swiss chard and kale, and the wild onions I transplanted early last spring have rebounded, but that is about it for the spring crop.

Now comes one of the many joys of the home garden; planning the next one. The San Marzano tomatoes will be making another appearance, and I’ll try the Carmellos once more. Other as yet to be determined varieties will also get a shot at the title. This year’s crop of seed catalogs are already bursting forth from the mailbox, and I have so little space and not much time before planting needs to begin. Patience, I tell myself. Patience.

Posted in Gardening, Heirloom, Organic, Raised Bed, Tomatoes, Vegetables | Leave a comment

Garden Bounty

Thomas Jefferson once wrote (in a letter to John Adams) “But though an old man, I am but a young gardener.”

Red Flower

I’m beginning to gain a new appreciation for that quote. Accustomed to gardening in the Texas Gulf Coast, the Hill Country is proving to be a bit more challenging. The acidic gumbo soil I battled for so many years in the southeast has done little to prepare me for the alkalinity of the Hill Country dirt.

There have been some pleasant surprises. Apparently this is the promised land for banana peppers, and the Kale and Swiss Chard are giving us more than we can use.

Banana Peppers, Radishes, Cayenne Pepper

Banana Peppers, Radishes, Cayenne Pepper, Okra

Of the five varieties of tomato I planted this year, only the San Marzanos are healthy and producing like champs. Especially disappointing are the Carmello tomatoes and the Abraham Lincolns, both heirloom slicers. There are a handful of Carmellos on spindly vines, and not a single Abe Lincoln. Next year I’ll have to try different varieties. That’s part of gardening though, isn’t it? You try new things until you discover the perfect combination of vigor, production and taste. Someday I’ll have a complete list of go-to varieties for all the fruits and vegetables I grow, but until then I’m enjoying the journey.

Posted in Fruit, Gardening, Heirloom, Organic, Peppers, Raised Bed, Tomatoes, Vegetables | 1 Comment

Squash Vine Borers

Just when I was wondering what we were going to do with all of the zucchinni we were harvesting, I walked out to the garden and saw this:

Wilted Zucchini

Wilted Zucchini

 

The plants are wilting because the larvae of the squash vine borer are feasting on the stems.

Believe it or not, this is my first run-in with the squash vine borer. It’s also my first real garden in this part of Texas, so maybe the regions that I gardened in before were fortunate enough to not be plagued by this particular pest, or maybe I just haven’t grown that much zucchini or squash in gardens past. In any case, the best offense is a good defense when it comes to this bug. Apparently panty hose or tin foil wrapped around the stems when the zucchini is just coming out of the ground will do the trick. I’ll re-plant and give the tin foil a shot then let you know if it worked.

If you have this problem and want to save your zucchini (or pumpkin, or squash) you can slice open the infected part of the root, remove the larvae, and cover the damaged part of root with soil. If the plant isn’t too far gone it can recover.

Posted in Gardening, Heirloom, Organic, Pests, Raised Bed, Vegetables, Zucchini | Leave a comment