Friday, September 26, 2008

I'm Back!

I have not been away except mentally. And I literally was staying out of the back garden for a while now.

I was focused on planning a family reunion among other things (it went well!)

The plants in the raised beds had all died in July. We had huge storms and lots of rain and it has been all we could do to just keep the weeds in the gravel areas somewhat in control and pick melons before they become too ripe. It was too hot and miserable. And I was annoyed with my helper (otherwise known as my dear, sweet husband) for destroying my Mexican Oregano instead of weeds. This is the same guy that destroyed a beautiful hibiscus a while back. At least the herb plant sort of looked like a weed.

That's a picture of plants that I bought about 6 weeks ago. And never planted. Sigh.

Whine, whine, whine! I'm over it already.

The days are shorter now and it's cooler in the mornings at least. Of course I've started back to work so I don't have many mornings. But I've been kicking myself to get going on the garden again. The first thing I did was get a professional landscape company to estimate the cost of bi-weekly maintenance. This is just on-going clean-up - pulling weeds and raking and a little pruning. I have hired a company to start next week.

They will plant and fix my irrigation (for a fee) too. This is great, because planting in the ground is really difficult here, the ground is so rocky. I do want to add some more desert plants and trees and digging holes is really difficult here. That's what I love about my raised beds.

So today I finally went back out and surveyed the garden and rounded up the ripe melons. I had not picked melons for 2 weeks and in the mean time 3 melons become overripe and started to rot on the vine. I picked several ripe melons and consigned the overripe ones to the compost heap. I ended up eating quite a bit of watermelon for breakfast. At least it was cool inside - eating warm watermelon seems too weird to me. I sprinkle melons with a little kosher salt. My husband prefers sugar, which seems practically sacrilegious to me. I just touched the knife to the watermelon and it cracked open, perfectly ripe and wonderful.

The melons seem to have been hybridizing at random. We have many exotic appearing melons which I definitely did not plant. Little smooth-skinned cantaloupes. Huge dark green warty things that taste like watered down cantaloupes. Misshapen triangular honeydews.

Apparently I need to plant the different types further apart to lessen commingling. A few of the melon plants seem to have stopped growing. Perhaps these are ones with over-ripened fruits. But others are continuing to produce flowers and set melons at an almost alarming rate. I suppose the shorter days will soon signal a decline in production. But it is still hot and sunny during the day.

Here is one of the small smooth melons together with a more normal cantaloupe. Next year I think I'll try to just plant small melons. The huge ones are overwhelming and hard to give away.

We also have a nice crop of Japanese eggplant. The eggplants and the okra were the only surviving plant from my spring planting, aside from herbs in containers which did very well indeed. I'm going to harvest the remaining basil as I will have a steady supply coming in from my CSA share which started this week.

I think another one of the peach trees has given up. The nectarine trees, the plum and the Aprium are looking very healthy. The fig limps along. One of the storms knocked over several of the small trees so we have them staked. They did not fall down but they leaned severely.

The next thing I have to do is change the irrigation, now that the hottest part of the summer is over. I have a spreadsheet where I record the settings and what worked and what did not work. I ended up setting the mini-sprinklers on the containers to briefly spray three times a day and this made all the difference. Incredible amounts of basil and other herbs survived all summer.

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