Taking a Break

Well, I’ve been pretty serious the last couple of weeks, so, rather than

Second Year Lilies

discussing disasters, as I had originally intended, I thought I’d kick back, relax, and wander on about the more amusing aspects of life.

About a week ago, the heat that had been depressing body and soul finally broke.  We’ve even had a little rain.  It totaled about half an inch spread out between two separate days.  That’s  not much but at least it’s rain.  This, combined with temperatures in the mid-high nineties –  rather than averaging around a hundred and five and sometimes as high as a hundred and ten – has given our garden a real boost.

We started picking zucchini last week.  Already, it’s getting ahead of us.  I don’t think we’ll be buying salad makings for a while.  Monday I picked our first three eggplants.  We grow the “ichiban” variety.  The slender, delicate fruit doesn’t have any of the bitterness that you sometimes find in the big, glossy “Black Beauty” variety typically found in grocery stores.  I also picked a handful of Hungarian “wax” peppers and a single string bean.

Stir fry for dinner!

Our tomato plants have started setting fruit.  Did you know that tomatoes are actually pretty picky about the temperatures at which they’ll set?  Too hot.  Too cold.  Too little wind.  Too much wind.  Any of these and they’ll grow leaves and vines, but not set fruit.

The cucumbers are also flowering nicely.  We haven’t found any fruit, yet, but I suspect that somewhere out in the tangle of vines and leaves there’re a couple waiting to surprise us.    When I found my one mature string bean, I saw a host of others getting started, as well as a wealth of flowers.

We didn’t do well in all areas.  The radishes got hit by some nasty black beetles.  The chard was slow getting started (but it’s doing great now) and those same beetles did a number on our arugula.   Carrots are also behind the usual.

Oh!  I’ve been meaning to tell you all about the end result of our experiment with growing oriental lilies out front.  (See WW “Taking Risks” 3-30-11, if you need to remind yourself.)

Early in the summer, the lilies did very well.  The first batch to bloom was the yellows.   We had a wealth of huge, creamy yellow flowers.  An added bonus was that a breeze would blow a really delightful perfume into the living room.  Next were the pinks.  These did pretty well, but the heat definitely got to them.  By the time the white lilies bloomed, it was easy to see that late summer in the front of our house – even with shade later in the day – was too much for these delicate flowers.

The lilies we’d planted out back, however, which got more shade, did very, very well.  Therefore, this spring we dug up the lily bulbs from the front and shifted them to the back.  We’d lost a rose bush and another shrub to the winter, so we had two neat little wells already full of enriched soil.  We added a bit more soil, set in the bulbs, and waited to see if they were strong enough to make a comeback.

At first we were doubtful. The lilies from the year before came back strong and already had stalks at least six inches tall before the first green tips poked through from the transplanted batch.  The transplants also grew more slowly, probably because the bulbs didn’t have as much stored energy.   However, I am please to report that they are now flowering.  We had a few nice yellows and have now moved on to the pinks.  Judging from the buds, I think we’ll have many more to enjoy.

Analysis?  Risk – both in trying these bulbs in the first place and in shifting the ones from the front to the back – well taken.

Those of you who remember my prior post are probably wondering what we did with that narrow strip out front where we tried the lilies.  After careful observation of what other people in our area were doing with similar beds with similar orientation, we decided to try zinnias.  We put in seeds and are now starting to get flowers.

An amusing addition is that we also have two cucumber plants.  We’re guessing the seeds were in the kitchen gray water we often use to water that bed.  Because the area is so narrow and we’d like to be able to use our sidewalk for at least part of the summer, we’ve trellised the vines up tomato cages.  It should be amusing to see what happens.  I wonder if we can get them to climb a string up to the gutter?

I’m looking forward to finding out!

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5 Responses to “Taking a Break”

  1. heteromeles Says:

    Sounds wonderful! If you have any eggplant left, I’d suggest the borrani banjan recipe from NPR (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91710829). We’ve made it several times, and it tastes delightful.

  2. Dominique Says:

    I love your stories about your garden! I love that it always seems to triumph over the sand and heat. I am still mourning the tree that you wrote about losing earlier this year. In fact, I feel so attached to this garden of yours, that it is almost like a dear friend. I’m so glad to hear it is doing well 🙂

  3. janelindskold Says:

    Thanks for the eggplant recipe. We have eight ichiban plants, so I suspect we will have surplus.

    We found the cucumbers the day after I wrote the above. They were hiding behind one post of the trellis. I think we’ll be picking this week. We grow an oriental variety that is low in seeds and bitterness.

    We replaced the apricot tree with a peach that seems to be doing very well. We’re going to faithfully put down preventatives for the borers that got the apricot, but if we fail then I think we need to resign ourselves not to do stone fruit.

  4. CBI Says:

    Eggplant!!!! Yum!!!!!

    We have started a couple of “square foot gardens”, and are looking forward to some wonderful veggies. Alas, the squash bugs have taken a toll, and only two eggplant (one per vine) to date. 😦 OTOH, the blackberries have been producing like mad!

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