In a shocking turn of events, this week features adventures in dumpster diving, close encounters with rodents, painful losses, rewarding harvests, and beautiful blooms. Is that dramatic or what?! Gotta love summer as a gardener; let’s get right to it!
Summertime Swim in the Dumpster
As you may recall from last week, our cucumbers were out of control! They grew so fast, they were in desperate need of a new trellis. Lauren found a craigslist ad for some free pallets, so this week we went pallet hunting!
We were actually very successful! There’s only one problem: Lauren drives a BMW. A very beautiful, very small BMW that was not in any way made to transport pallets. One man who helped us load up the pallets happened to collect BMW’s; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man so visibly distressed/horrified! (Poor guy, but it’s for the sake of our cukes!)
After we went around Cville collecting pallets, we took another trip to Lowe’s to get some supplies to build the trellises. Cucumbers like to climb, but they like to grab onto thin things, not broad wood boards, so we bought twine and small nails to hang in the pallets. Lauren helped me resist the urge to buy neon pink twine (it was cute, but more expensive).
We also bought hinges to attach the pallets, and wood screws.
I used a drill for the VERY FIRST TIME! I was ridiculously excited. Lauren taught me about pilot holes, screws, and the like. We got those pallets together in no time!
After attaching the hinges, we hammered nails to both sides of the pallets in a criss-cross manner so that we could string the twine in a zig-zag pattern. Like I said, cucumbers are climbers, but they prefer to grab onto something thinner than a thick wooden board, so hanging twine or something like it is an important step when turning pallets into trellises (at least for our purposes). We chose twine that is weather proof and meant for gardening, to ensure that it’ll last.
With so many cucumbers, we weren’t done yet! We kept going and made a second trellis from another pallet. By this point, all of our pallet shenanigans had attracted some attention, so we had the help of a new volunteer.
I’m happy to report that the cucumbers are already starting to climb their new trellises!
O Celery, Where Art Thou?
Remember my first blog post when I was oh-so-excited about planting Celery? In case you forgot, here’s a quick picture of how young and precious and wonderful it was:
I had EIGHT PLANTS. EIGHT. Guess how many I have right now? ONE. O. N. E. Even that top picture is out of date! How did this happen, you may ask? Am I devastated, you may ask? Read below to find out the answer to both questions.
Picture this: I come back from pallet-hunting with Lauren, very excited to build a trellis, and I walk over to the celery bed, casually, not expecting much, just checking in on my fragile water-hogs, (that I love dearly) only to see that SIX OF THEM ARE MISSING!
I stared at the bed blankly and looked at the holes with such confusion??? Surely I had planted celery?? I mean, I blogged about it? I complained to all my coworkers about how thirsty it was?? I pinned about a million celery tips and tricks and recipes?? Did I make it all up?
In the midst of this Celery-induced crisis (CIC), Lauren walked up and assured me that I had, in fact, planted celery. And that it was, in fact, mysteriously missing.
Still devastated, I lovingly patted my remaining two celery plants, shook my fist at any surrounding rodents, and got ready for the Lowe’s trip. When we got back, I saw the second Celery being PULLED DOWN A HOLE. BEFORE MY VERY EYES.
I SCREECHED. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Is this what it had come to? Was I about to get into a game of tug-of-war with an unidentified burrowing fiend??
But the damage was already done! It was gone! So, yes, I am devastated. Apparently, mud cannons and brute force are not enough to get rid of rodents. At this point, I’m still not sure if I have moles/voles/rats/woodchucks/all of the above, but I am sure that I am in desperate need of a Community Garden Cat (just kidding, kind of).
Harvests and Blooms
It’s not all gloom and doom over at the garden of course! We also have gorgeous blooms and had a wonderful harvest of cabbage and a few more carrots this week!
These sunflowers are gorgeous! They’re also WAY too tall for me to take pictures of now! I need to invest in a selfie stick or something, I swear that some of them are well above 6ft.
The Marigolds are still blooming! To extend their blooms, it’s really important to deadhead, or pick off the dead blooms so that the plant can focus it’s energy on new ones. Before putting them in the compost, I used the old blooms for some Quality Art (There’s a reason my fine arts requirement is still unfulfilled).
Okra’s flowers resemble their relative the hibiscus. They’re beautiful!
The cabbage is absolutely gorgeous! I never thought that I would describe cabbage as beautiful, but here we are. In a stroke of really convenient timing (or maybe just because it’s seasonal) I was also harvesting cabbages at Bellair this week, so I received a crash course in cabbage harvesting!
Your cabbage is ready for harvest when the head feels firm. You should be able to squeeze it and have little resistance. When that’s the case, cut off the head with a knife or shears and peel away and bug-ridden outer leaves and ta-da! You have a head of cabbage!
This cucumber was just about ready to go! I might have picked it a little too early, but I was eager to taste the first of the bunch. They’re delicious! It’s shocking how much more flavorful garden cucumbers are as compared to grocery store cucumbers.
After the Celery disaster, I pulled a few more Cosmic Carrots, because I’m getting a little nervous about my root veggies. Most of them are still too small, and a few of them were “dancing carrots” (meaning they grew a little funny and now they look like they have legs).
It’s okay to be different friends, keep on dancing! And don’t forget to come out to our summer workdays, Thursdays from 5 to 7 and Saturdays from 3 to 5. We’d love to have you join us!
Until next time,