Monday, July 17, 2006

Cooking (by way of Emma's Garden)

Seeing as it's too hot here in Boston to do anything but eat popsicles and box yourself in with fans, I decided to refrain from baking anything requiring a hot oven or knitting anything requiring hot yarn. (My Tamora Pierce Marathon is progressing at a rapid pace, however--I'm on book three in the Protector of the Small series.) In this moment of calm, I thought I'd introduce you to my back porch garden. As a renter, I have decided to try the 'container gardening' approach for the moment. If this goes well, there are several community gardens in my neighborhood that I might explore in seasons to come. Here are the introductions:

Here's the panorama of my garden. From left to right, I have: greens (including arugula, lettuce, spring onions, and various other leafy things that came in a mix seeds packet), orange bell peppers, lavendar, rosemary, basil, mixed flowers (including snap dragons, zinneas, and miniature sunflowers), and two containers of tomatos. I had snow peas earlier in the season, but they're long gone now.

From top to bottom to the right, a close up of a pepper flower (white) and a moth-visitor to my garden.

A close up of a tomato flower (yellow). Several of these flowers have started to fall off, so every morning I scurry in barefeet hoping to see the beginnings of a tomato. Nothing yet, but I am filled with faith and anticipation.

A close up of a zinnea bloom and a snap dragon bloom. All these flowers were sickly at first--I had to re-start the seedling several times. Now that summer is in full swing, though, my single flower pot is a riot of green and plant-competition for sunlight. So far the zinneas are winning most of the sunlight, but the sunflowers are putting up a fight. The snap dragons seem to keep to themselves and poke out where you least expect it.

I don't have any pictures of the herbs cuz they're all kind of boring right now. I'm trying to be patient and coach them along, but worry about the lavendar and rosemary--especially when I walk through the farmer's market and see the vendors hawking splendid tall bushes of these herbs. The basil is slowly coming into its own, and I actually had enough leaves to sprinkle on the last pizza I made. I also just repotted some of the late-starter basil seedling, so I have high hopes for the upcoming weeks.

I've only had two major pest problems so far. A plague of caterpillars nibbled my greens down to nubs before I thought to move the tray to a more creepy-crawly inaccessible location. This got rid of the caterpillars and had the unexpected side bonus of teaching me the value of trimming back leafy greens in order to have them grow back bushier and fuller. Thanks, caterpillars!

My battle against the aphids is on-going. At first they were just on the peppers. Then they moved over to the tomatos. And most recently, I've found them snuggled deep into the lavendar. So far, I've been pretty successful at keeping them under control with soapy water spray. Emma-3. Aphids-nil. I'll keep you posted as the summer progresses.

P.S. I took a bunch of pictures of the pepper and tomato flowers when they were at their peak, but sadly, didn't realize that my camera was on the highest resolution setting, and I had some trouble loading those pictures onto the site. So, alas, the pictures you see are of the flowers slightly past their peak. Next time you visit, I'll make sure to chain you to a chair and show you what a fantastic amateur photographer I am.

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