Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day and Days

Sat June 6 2:00 pm

We start with a picture of Ruth's peonies, which are gorgeous, as usual.

And an announcement! The lost are found. Those yellow crookneck squash seeds were (uh-oh) in the greenhouse, which has been closed up and probably 150 degrees several afternoons in a row. These seeds weren't too vigorous to begin with and now they may be completely dead. I planted six seeds in my squash container two weeks ago and so far, only two have emerged. Not promising.

But, ever an optimist where my garden is concerned, I took about a dozen seeds from the packet, put a teaspoonful of the "Red Earth" minerals in about 1/4 cup of warm water and put the seeds in that. If they are going to germinate they should swell up and look alive within about 72 hours. Let's see if they do. For curiosities sake I will put an equal number of seeds in plain water, and see if the "Red Earth has any effect on the germination.

I had planted my scarlet runner beans before I got the "Red Earth" but I top dressed the container and watered it in and I now have the biggest bean seedlings I have ever seen. I planted from this same packet, in the same place, last year, and these leaves are more than double the size of last year's. And, something I have never seen before, some of them are coming up with side branches already developed!

Anyway, I am hoping the Red Earth will kick these heat challenged crookneck squash seeds into life.

Sunday 7 June;

This afternoon I cut the bok choi and Chinese kale I'd planted early in the season, and pulled the spring onions I'd interplanted with them. The veggies had bolted, and though I loved the flowers I wanted to plant the squash in those pots. I was going to be all experimental and add Red Earth to the one pot, and not add it to the other pot. In the end I couldn't do it. I added it to both pots. (I want squash.)

Tuesday 9 June;

The watermelon vines are growing like mad. The tomatoes are growing like mad. But the strawberries have pretty much turned up their little toes and died. No idea why, except I planted them in the row along the western side of the 4 x 4 and the sun may heat the soil there beyond the capacity of the strawberry plants to handle.

Next door, Ruth the Mighty Gardener has a large, almost ripe, berry hanging as prettily as a jewel. Unfortunately her upside-down tomato, which was doing so well, was broken by the strong wind we a couple of nights ago. The poor stem was broken by the plant swinging back and forth in the wind. Lesson learned: Next year upside down tomatoes get stakes and some plastic mesh to stop the plant from moving in the wind.

One more crookneck squash seedling has emerged in the squash container out in the community garden. And one more okra seedling came up in the 4 x 4. Honestly, you know you are insane when you start counting emerging seeds.

Wednesday 10 June;

I can't resist sharing another picture of Ruth's spectacular 4 x 4. What is the difference between hers and mine - aside from the fact that mine is practically empty? A huge bag of sheep manure.

Guess what I'm adding to mine next year? My topsoil and container mix combo has set up like concrete, and so far the only plants that are flourishing are the tomatoes. I'm happy they're doing well, but I wish the okra would go ahead and get second leaves, and more of them would come up, and more of the other seeds I planted would come up. The marigolds and oregano I planted in my 4 x 4 are still alive (unlike my strawberry plants) but they couldn't be described as thriving. That's gardening for you. Every year there's a lesson or two.

On these hot days plants wilt in the afternoon sun, and containers need frequent watering. One nice thing about the community garden is that gardeners come at different times during the day to water, and most watch to make sure that no one's plants are suffering from a lack of water.

Someone should water Mrs. Oriole and cool off her temper. She has taken to attacking her reflection in the neighbour's window. She pecks and beats that pesky intruder until she is panting and exhausted. Her anxious but hen-pecked husband calls to her in his most appealing chuckle, and flies around her, trying to get her to come away, but she will not listen. Thankfully the reflection is only visible for a short time of each afternoon, or no housework would get done at the Oriole's.

The robins have tossed an empty egg-shell, like a little spot of sky, from their nest and into my flower-bed. You can see where the chick pecked its way out. The blackbird babies are out of the nest and are constantly pestering their parents for food. The adults get very anxious when Sal and I are out walking under the trees, but the babies already fly almost as well as the adults, and we are no threat.

What is really interesting is that another robin is feeding a baby which is now out of the nest and flying (or flapping) clumsily from branch to branch. It's understandable that they would get anxious when Sal and I come near, but the blackbirds leave their babies and come to join in protecting the young robin. They dive bomb Sal and scream curses and threats at him. He doesn't even notice he's so busy looking for a mouse hole. But to ease the birds' anxiety I make him leave the lawn and come back to his own house.

I don't recall reading that birds will leave their own young to mob a cat who is a "threat" to another bird's young, but animals do surprising things.

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