Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In the Garden

The plants in my vegetable garden are at one extreme or the other, depending on where you look. Happy plants are taking over the beds and unhappy plants are refusing to even raise their heads from the soil. Back in September, I planted both gold and ruby beets. The gold ones germinated, grew about ½ inch tall, and died (or disappeared, more on that later). The ruby beets grew so fast and so thick that I had to thin them by two-thirds after a few weeks.

too many beets!

Thinning is always a brutal process and I feel terrible doing it, but at least with the beets we could eat the seedlings I pulled out.

beet leaves for salad

I’ve planted my first two waves of lettuce, but neither wave has responded with a single plant yet, even with all the wonderful rain. In fact, it’s been so long that I had to weed the beds where I planted the lettuce seeds, so they may never come up. Same problem with the spinach: dozens of seeds, absolutely no plants.

The carrots and parsley appeared on the same day, microscopic grass-like shoots that my camera can’t even pick up. The radishes popped up - they are always reliable - although there were not as many as I expected. And I have three pitiful little cilantro seedlings struggling along.

cilantro, looking sad

The beans are growing thick and healthy. These are bush beans, which I have not grown before, so I don’t know how big the plants will be before I see actual beans. That’s okay, it’s just nice to see something growing so well.

bush beans!

And look what is hiding in between the bean plants: a few volunteer tomatoes!

hidden tomatoes

This happens fairly regularly, since I compost all my vegetable waste and garden cuttings. Some of the vegetable seeds that go into the compost bin come out and make new plants. We will just keep our fingers crossed for these little babies – it’s not the best time for young tomato plants, but we may be able to keep them alive through the winter.

The peas are another matter. There has not been any sign of a pea seedling, even though I planted them a month ago. Granted we did have a few weeks of over 100 temps after that, but underground they should have been safe. If they haven’t appeared after the wonderful cool rains, I don’t think they ever will. And I think it might be because the seeds are no longer there. I suspect this little fellow, who has been found guilty of mysteriously disappearing seeds in the past:

the suspect!

Actually, probably not him, since this is a photo from my 1996 wildlife book. So it is one of his relatives, and the reason I suspect him or her is that I find little depressions in the bed occasionally, little holes that look like they could have been dug with little squirrel feet. Right where the peas used to be.

We have always had a squirrel or two living in the back yard, and I used to let the dogs run free in the vegetable garden to discourage squirrel activity there. Then I discovered that two dogs can eat more vegetables in less time than one little squirrel, so now the dogs have to stay out.

I sometimes imagine myself in full sustainability mode, with my own chickens and beehives. The life of an urban farmer! It sounds great, but once again I have to be realistic about my ability to deal with the summer sun. Maybe one day... And for now I have plenty with my tomatoes in spring and beans in the winter and herbs all year round.

Hope you can all take a moment to enjoy a garden today!



  1. Wow, have I been a bad blogger this week! A noisier than usual mister occupying my evening reading/writing space lately has caused me to have to try catching up at different times than I have been used to.

    We have many squirrels here, as well as chipmunks and birds. The dogs chase them, only to be taunted from high places as they make their escape, then return for more. It is rather amusing to watch!

    Your garden is beautiful! Please keep sharing; you are keeping me inspired for my spring planting.

    xo, Anita

  2. So glad to be an inspiration to you. We can alternate seasons: you can keep my gardening spirits up in the summer and I'll return the favor in the winter!

  3. That sounds great; it's a deal!