July 22, 2008

Garden Update

I haven't updated you on the progress of my vegetable garden lately, mainly because it's been a somewhat less-than-optimal garden season. Who wants to look at pictures of or read about a wilted, pitiful garden?

There are a couple of reasons why it's turned out badly.

It's been warm outside. Hot, actually. Get-back-inside-the-air-conditioning-by-9:15-am hot. The dog days of August hot since the beginning June.

It's rained only once since the garden was put in. Oh, it's rained a bit all around us, just not on this particular block. A garden cannot thrive on city water alone. No matter how many gallons of it are applied on a daily basis. It needs the nutrients the rain provides to really thrive.

Other gardens around town haven't done well either, so I'm not alone.

The zucchini and yellow squash did fairly well. Well enough so that we've been eating squash nearly every day. I was entertaining the idea of zucchini tacos when the plants finally played out for good. Some people around here are really happy the squash is ending because they never liked squash in the first place. The very suggestion of zucchini tacos was vetoed immediately.

The tomatoes didn't produce very well, although they did produce enough so that I could make fresh salsa about once a week. Good thing, since I've kind of been avoiding Mexican restaurants since May. I fixed a lot of cucumber and tomato salads. Not with our cucumbers though. Although the cucumber plants grew, they never got past the blossom stage.

Green beans were planted four times in two different areas. Three times the seeds sprouted, the plants grew about four inches tall, and then they turned brown and died. In one bed, the plants actually grew and developed blossoms. I could see little micro-green beans, and then ... nothing. They would have been perfect for Barbie if she were whipping up a Barbie-size meal.

We got a few Japanese eggplants. Enough to satisfy my craving for fried eggplant anyway.

The Jalapeno and serrano peppers produced a few peppers, enough for the salsa, but not much more. The pablano peppers and bell peppers were downright sad.

At the end of May we planted two different kinds of cantaloupes from seed. I forget the varieties offhand, but one kind was the regular-size fruit and the other was the "personal" size.

They started off great. Beautiful, beautiful plants, sprawling and blooming like crazy. Lots of blossoms. Lots of fruit. The other day we harvested a few of the personal size. I happily ran into the house to get the camera and a butcher knife, anticipating, finally, a decent cantaloupe, and one that I didn't have to pay $4.00 for.

Aren't they pretty?

I can't describe the disappointment I felt when I took the first bite and discovered that they were ... not sweet. Absolutely tasteless. Much like many of the ones we've gotten from the supermarket this year.

Perhaps the larger ones will turn out better, but I don't have high hopes. We'll see.

It's not like I don't have help. Expert help at that. My gardening partner has successfully grown and shipped millions of pounds of cantaloupes from the Rio Grande Valley in his time. "Sometimes it's just like this," he says. He's disappointed too, but takes it in stride. At age 84 and a farmer most of his life, he's seen his share of crops that didn't make it for one reason or another.

I could never be a farmer.

I'm now anticipating the fall growing season. Where we can give tomatoes another try. And we'll be able to plant all of the vegetables that don't thrive well in the Texas summer heat. One of the benefits of living where the growing season is so long is that we get a second chance.

The good news about the heat and lack of rainfall is that the weeds haven't grown much either. Not a lot of time was spent in the weeding department.

Hopefully, it won't turn out to be unusually wet fall.


At 10:53 AM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Really interesting to hear about your results and how they relate back to the weather. I wonder what the deal was with those cantaloupe? I finally did my first work shift at the community garden, and the summer squash are all over and exploding - so it looks like the best is still to come there.

At 11:32 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - I'm guessing it's the weather although I've read it could also be the cantaloupe variety. Or who knows what. It's funny--I kind of expect my friend to know all the answers about growing fruits and vegetables since he was raising all sorts of crops on a large scale long before I was ever born. He should know, right? But now I'm beginning to think that home gardening and commerical farming might have much less in common than I thought. Can't wait to read about your work day in the community garden.

At 1:26 AM CDT, Blogger Rochelle R. said...

That is too bad your garden didn't produce as you hoped it would. It is weird that the green beans never grew. The whole problem was probably the weather. We usually grow lots of green beans but didn't bother this year because our local water rate went up and we never have rain. I didn't have any luck with cucumbers either, last year, I only got one.

At 6:27 PM CDT, Blogger ~~Louise~~ said...

Oh Kathy,
I'm so sorry to hear about your gardening problems. At least you were able to salvage a few goodies and how lucky are you to get a second chance. Good Luck!

At 8:36 AM CDT, Blogger Devonia said...

Kathy, my hubby tried a back yard garden a couple of years and it never did well. I remember he grew lettuce and it was sooo pretty but full of bugs. Yuk! No way we could eat it. The onions... they were fine. I wonder if tub gardening might work for us? My friend has tubs of tomatoes, peppers, etc. and those did really well. We just aren't farm savvy enough, I fear. Those cantelopes certainly look delicious - sorry you were disappointed. Fall - maybe for you the best is yet to come too!

My bests,

At 5:47 AM CDT, Blogger Jean B. said...

Hi! I just discovered your blog and am quite excited about it. You and I may be twins separated at birth or something. I also collect these booklets (am about to go out to some sales), although I focus primarily on ones published before 1950. In sddition, I collect pre-1950 cookbooks (along with other categories of cookbooks). Some of my collection is on librarything (how do you organize????).

I look forward to settling down and reading your blog more carefully. Maybe we can correspond?

Jean B.

At 8:55 PM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

Jean - Thanks for visiting--hope you'll stick around. I'd be happy to correspond with you about the cookbooks! I think I must fiddle with the email settings first, so that they'll go through.


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