Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Little Garden Update

I'm apparently incapable of taking a decent photo of our garden. What I lack in aesthetics, I'll make up for in labels.

Starting this garden has certainly been a learning experience, which is a positive way of saying I've had a lot of failures. Mostly, I blame my own lack of understanding of the California growing season. I know how and when to plant on the East Coast, but I'm an imbecile when it comes to California vegetable gardening, despite all the books I've bought.

While I'm slinging blame around, I'd also like to blame the slugs. Those slimy bastards have destroyed all but one one my cornichon cucumbers, almost all of the sunflowers, and most of the basil. They demolished all the lettuce and arugula that I planted. They've been brutal to the columbine and the baby blue eyes. I keep assuring myself that Slug-Go is an approved chemical for organic gardening, but it sort of sickens me how much I apply. Beer, coffee and eggshells are met with snorts of laughter on the part of the local slugs.

Two weeks ago, I spent about an hour tying up the tomato plants. And as a result of my contact with the tomato plants (it would seem) I had a horribly itchy rash all over my arms for fourteen days. This was misery.

I'm pretty sure that I have a serious (as in "Trip-To-The-Emergency-Room" Serious) allergy to hot peppers. When I eat hot peppers, I get instantly asthmatic, and my eyelids swell up alarmingly. Unfortunately, there's no standard test for hot pepper allergies.

So, it's likely that the two week long rash that I endured was due to my contact with another member of the nightshade family. Not being able to enjoy spicy food is bad enough. If I became allergic to tomatoes, life might not be worth living.

I think that as soon as things slow down at work (we're shooting a film, which is a big challenge for us), I'll be trekking back to my allergist to get some more conclusive answers.

In the mean time, I've been handling tomato plants with my elbow-length beekeepers' gloves on, and washing my hands like Lady Macbeth.

It certainly hasn't been all itchiness and failure in the garden.

Quite the contrary.

The fruit trees are doing quite well, despite years of previous neglect. I gave the persimmon and lemon a bit of a haircut today. My Japanese long handled pruners were too short to reach what I wanted, so Robb MacGyvered a solution for me. He built an extension for the pruners with a huge bamboo pole, a bungee cord, baling wire, and painters tape. He's my hero!

So, thus far in the garden...

The peas were pretty good, although they finally succumbed to powdery mildew, and we probably harvested them a bit too late. The herbs are doing well. And the kale is incredibly prolific and delicious. And some of our hops are taller than our garage, and are starting to produce flowers.

Not bad for the first summer!


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Robb points out that since his pruning pole extender

1. Was made with bamboo
2. Didn't involve explosives

it would be more of a Gilligan's Island fix, rather than a MacGyver.

Christine said...

Awesome!! Slugs can be devastating, but looks like you're pulling through really well (extra credit for labels!)
I still have Cornichon seeds if you'd like to try again. I just sampled my first one- green bean flavor followed by a mild cucumber. Slightly fuzzy texture on the outside, but not too off-putting.
That persimmon tree is just darling!

Kristen said...

Damn slugs indeed! They completely annihilated my eggplants!

And damn greenfly too! They gave my zucchini a disease!

You've already got tomatoes! I've got fuzzy flower-buds all over my plants just ready to burst, but I shouldn't expect fruit for at least a month. And my potatoes have put out buds too! Yaaaay first year gardens!

Mel said...

The wackiest slug deterrent I've heard of is to wrap your plant stems loosely with aluminum foil collars - apparently slugs can't climb foil. Lovely picture, despite your modesty - I like the labels!

Threadspider said...

Sounds like you came out with as many successes as failures and I love your labelled garden!
No instant cure for slugs I'm afraid-it's mostly snails that do the job in my garden-except, if you can bear it, go out after dark with a torch and pick 'em up and er...dispose of them. Drowning works for the squeamish!

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

It's nice to see such a clear photo, and labels are helpful.

Sad about the allergies. I'm speculating that maybe green tomatoes might be a problem, but ripe ones are the safe part of the plant, so would continue benign?

Kim said...

Holy COW! I am impressed with your garden! Wonderful wonderful work!

lkw said...

Oh, dear, how difficult to have allergic reactions to tomato stems,etc.

But your garden looks lovely. And there are always successes and failures. It's different year to year. That's the nature of gardening.

I do hope you have some good persimmons -- they're delicious when fully ripe!


Nancy Lewis said...

"I'm apparently incapable of taking a decent photo of our garden." ...that will never be true....


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