Yesterday it was pouring rain as I drove Sophia to the Portland airport... Though Oregon has a rainy reputation it rarely comes down in July, but yesterday it was like the whole state was sad to see her go.
An hour after her departure my Dad arrived from San Francisco. I have been waiting for him to get here; the garden has been in serious need of his expertise. So this morning we got to work. After the rain it was easy to pull up all the new weeds that have been invading my beds. I started with that, as my dad mulched all of the tomato plants with hay to keep the moisture in the soil.
For the past week or so we have noticed a problem with the tomatoes. They keep disappearing. There are baby green tomatoes growing on most of the tomato plants, but day by day they vanish. Now there are only a few left. Today there were deer tracks in one of the tomato beds. This is a big big problem. So we're searching for friendly forms of deer control... We have plenty of weeds that the deer could be chomping on, why do they have to like what I like?
When we started out growing the garden this summer my mom told me that I had to keep a journal; “that’s what gardeners do,” she said—“so you can remember what you’ve planted where and how it grows from year to year.” I privately wondered if this would really be a year to year thing, but looking over some of her old garden journals I decided it would be helpful in any case. I share below some notes from the first few weeks.
Yesterday and the day before I weeded.
Tuesday June 9, 2009
I started planting things today. Four broccoli plants from our neighbor- 2 rows of lacinato kale, with one row of purple basil in between.
In the back garden I planted tomatoes and more basil (purple and classic). The basil will emerge in 5-10 days; the kale will germinate (same thing as “emerge”? different seed packets say different things) as soon as this Friday.
Also I discovered a tragedy that occurred on either Friday or Sunday. If it occurred Friday it was an act of nature, if it happened Sunday it was an act of me. When I went out to plant the tomatoes, I headed for the patch I had furiously cleared the day before. On the bare patch I saw four artichoke markers but no artichoke plants. Then I saw four planting containers. Instantly I remembered my mom telling me that she planted artichokes so I would have something to eat when I arrived, “artichokes just keep giving.” I might have weeded the artichoke plants. I don’t know how far along they were, and they certainly would have been ravaged by the tornado of the week before (a literal 80-100 mph wind tornado tore through our back yard days before I arrived). I still feel confident that I wouldn’t have weeded anything that looked like a functional plant- plus I know I’m an inexperienced gardener, but I know what artichokes look like. All this doesn’t really matter because the plants are definitely gone. If their tops had been blown off in the storm- would they still have born fruit? This answer decides the degree of my guilt.
Monday June 15, 2009
On Saturday I saw my little lacinato kale sprouts coming from the ground. That was exciting. My mom is convinced I killed her artichokes and has been on a mission to find more but the plants are all gone from the stores. Yesterday we got a lot of plants that now need planting: shiso, chamomile, lavender, cayenne, jalapeno peppers, butternut squash red Russian kale, epazote and baby bok choi. Our friend Nancy gave us a ton of heirloom tomatoes: coustralee, omar’s Lebanese, Caspian pink, pineapple, sun sugar and early girl. She also gave us eggplant and a huge variety of peppers. There is a lot to be done because we still can’t see the beds through the weeds.
Tuesday June 23, 2009
Yesterday the moon was in Cancer, which is supposed to be the best sign for planting, so Sophia and I planted a lot. More basil, to go with the tomato plants, greek oregano (for yummy Jordanian-inspired black tea with zaatar), French tarragon, cilantro, multi-colored carrots (my favorite are the light yellow-almost white- ones). The purple basil is peeking out between the rows of kale…
Now we're turning two and want you to celebrate with us! What should be our birthday cake be this year? Join the Kitchen Caravan Birthday Cake Challenge, send your recipe submissions to email@example.com by June 17th.
We'll film us making the top three finalists- and determine the winner by taste test- the following week. Then we'll post the winning recipe in our recipe bank.
You know what the judges like: fresh seasonal ingredients, interesting spices and food that comes with a story!
"Growing in Harmony" an article in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday talks about "garden guilds," plants that offer support to one another when grown in the same area. An example they give is the Orchard Guild: Apple tree for fruit, also gives shade to the spinach and acts as a trellis for runner beans; Runner beans give nitrogen to the soil, and is the protein to eat; Strawberries are ground cover (providing moisture to soil and fruit); and finally Spinach, which also retains moisture in the soil and gives healthy greens to eat.
It is a simple idea, but I love that economy of space and effort that this sort of thinking encourages. I recommend reading the whole article for more fun examples.
I do have gardens on the brain these days, as I'm heading up to Oregon to Play Farm for the summer... Apparently seeds and garden plots are anxiously awaiting us.