Saturday, March 24, 2007

Expectantly thinking of summer

Please spot the nut job. She's standing under the apricot tree, up on her toes, straining to see if there are apricots. The flower petals just recently dropped. The pollen has barely had time to travel down the style to the ovary. Or has it?

Yes, I'm thrilled to say that there are lots of these tiny fuzzy knobs all over the tree. I might actually have to thin this year (fingers crossed). The five I had last year were just enough to wet my palate. I'm terribly excited to see these fruits, so small they haven't burst the flower collar yet.

Now in the other corner of the garden, this is what you don't want the cabbages to do:

You can tell that a cabbage is about to bolt when the leaves start to feel loose and "fluffy" versus tight and compact in a ball. A cabbage that is about to bolt can be slowed down by grabbing the head and twisting it so the root rotates in the ground and breaks some of the roots. But, if a cabbage seems like it's about to bolt, it's better to harvest it. My problem is that they look so enchanting in the garden. They are lovely, gigantic rosettes and sometimes I'm too enamored with them to harvest them.

I guess I kept hoping it might get bigger. Oh well. But it does make an interesting pattern.

The tomato seedlings are up and I'm now brushing them everyday. Brushing them involves lightly running your fingers over the seedlings, almost like tickling them. Outdoors, of course, this slight motion back and forth would be caused by breezes, and the stress strengthens the stems so the plant is stronger and stockier. I was taught this technique by another gardener who loved my seed starts, but felt they could be a little stronger if I had added more light and brushed them regularly. My first ones would fall over at the slightest hint of a breeze. A few have their first true leaves, so I think next week I'll start to pot some of them up.

Picture taken on 21 March just after I arrived home from work. They're leaning towards the last rays of sunset.


Floribunda said...

I think if someone grabbed my head and twisted it around, it would slow me down too! I never knew that trick for about-to-bolt plants... does it work with lettuce as well?

CoastalCAGardener said...

I found the "cabbage plant twist" trick in The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith. I've never thought of trying it on lettuce as I don't grow head lettuce (which it might work for if the stalk doesn't snap). With loose leaf lettuce, there's no hope. And by that time I find the leaves too bitter to eat.

But I am certainly entertained by the thought! Just think how easy it would be to stop bolting lettuce, cilantro, or arugula!