Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ever have that little voice say "didn't I tell you so"?

Saturday I was working on one of the gardens in the Master's Tour and it was pretty cold and damp. I was thinking to myself, "I'm not dressed properly for this, I'm going to catch my death of cold." and thereby fulfilled my own prophecy.

Summer colds are the worst, I think. At least when you are smacked with one in the winter, you can feel assured that hiding under the covers and sipping hot lemon tea will not seem contrary. It's cold outside; it's likely I'd be in bed with tea anyway. However, a summer cold you think, why would I willingly miss a day out in the garden?

I did don a sweater and go out for a quick look around once or twice.

One, I ask myself, how many times must I lose a set of freshly planted out seedlings before I remember to use shadecloth? I mean how many times can you chalk it up to a "learning experience"? Well, I'll be sprouting more "yuppie chow" salad mix to replace the sad, wilted & dead seedlings I left to roast in the sun.

I had ripped up the three dying tomato plants and turned the bed. I added an entire box of vermicompost, 2 cups of blood meal, 2 cups all-purpose organic fertilizer and another bag of compost from the nursery. I wanted to increase the organic matter in the soil and boost the macronutrients that seemed to have "bottomed out". This is where I thought I was going to have some cabbages and leaf lettuce. The cabbages might just make it with the "now in place" shade cloth.

Two, what the devil is going on with the tomato monster? It's dying off in places, but it's also flowering like mad. And much to my surprise, some of the flowers are keeping fruit. Maybe it's true that you have to stress the plants a bit to get them to fruit.

"No more lounging in the garden boys, time to make tomatoes or become extinct!!"

I'm still not holding my breath for an overwhelming bounty, because botrytis can settle on any of the young green fruits and rot them out completely. But I've ordered the pressure cooker just in case the monster proves me wrong (again). I have been surprised by the Northern Lights tomato, which now has two fruits forming. I was resigned to not get any this year. Maybe I will, fingers crossed.

In addition, the lack of sunshine here has affected the pollinators. When it's foggy, the garden is oddly quiet. Moment the sun shines through, the place is a-buzz. During the weekend, I was so concerned the butternut squash not being fertilized; I ended up hand pollinating it (once I picked the correct male flower - couldn't believe I mistook the first one for a male, please tell me it's the Sudaphed working on my poor brain!)

I noticed one google search land here with the question "how to pollinate pumpkin". I'll try to post my method later, minus using a female flower as the pollinator. D'oh!


Entangled said...

Hope you're feeling better by now.

I love the picture of the hummingbird! What species is that? The rubythroats here are very visible lately, feeding like mad at both the feeder and the flowers. They know they're going to have to start migrating soon, but it sure seems that they're using up more calories in fighting than they're taking on from the sugar-water.

CoastalCAGardener said...

Yes, thankfully better to enjoy the Labor Day weekend. I was very busy indeed.

I believe that picture is of an Anna's Hummingbird. I think the color is a bit off, however.

CoastalCAGardener said...

I stand corrected. My husband says he took the shot at sunset so the colors are correctly orange. And I neglected to give him credit for the shot. Oh dear,