Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Garden Oddity

It's been a while since I've done a garden update. Every day I feel like I learn something new. Yesterday I learned that I need to read my seed packets BEFORE I choose that packet of seeds. I had been picking cucumbers yesterday and as I did so I glanced down and noticed that my tiny cantaloupes were oranging up a bit. So I bent down to look one over and as I touched one it popped right off the vine. Shoot. I was annoyed with myself for disturbing one of the melons, but then I looked closer, and I smelled. The melon had a yellow-orange cast to it, and by golly, the stem end smelled like a cantaloupe. I was baffled. I mean, it's literally the size of a baseball. Surely if there were melons this size I would have seen them somewhere.

So I took my tiny melon into the house and took a picture of it next to a small 8 oz. coffee mug. See? It really is a tiny melon!

I had no choice but to slice it open, so I did. I cut it in half and it sure smelled good- the flesh was orange, the seeds scooped out very easily, and then I had the tiniest little cantaloupe at my disposal. I sliced it up into tiny wedges for the kids to snack on. In no time they'd inhaled the tiny melon. I thought it on the bland side, so I'm going to do my best to let the other melons get even riper on the vine. But baseball sized melons? I pulled out my seed packets and found the melons. Reading the back, sure enough. "Each vine bears sweet, juicy 4 1/2 inch melons". Great. While the are cute little melons, they are kinda useless. One melon is hardly enough for one person, let alone a family of four. So my lesson has been learned- read the seed packets carefully and look for hidden surprises.

Other than that...the garden has been a learning point this year. My broccoli are finally beginning to head up, and so far I've put up nearly 7 quarts of pickles. I should be able to pickle another quart today. My tomatoes are coming back a little, thanks to a few doses of Miracle Gro to try and salvage what I can. The lesson learned there is that tomatoes do much better in the ground. The tomatoes I am getting are very small from my patio bushes. I think next year I'll save the pots for herbs and peppers and figure out where to put the tomatoes in the garden.

I've pulled the last of the carrots, and I think I've decided that since I'm limited by my tiny garden space that I'm going to just spend the time living here learning about each vegetable and how to grow it best. Already on my list for next year's garden is chard, tomatillo, and fennel bulb. The zucchini are still doing okay, they'd probably like more space though. I've planted new rows of beets and radishes, and also some turnips and butternut squash for some fall crops. We've also been enjoying the dill plants a lot. Not just for the dill and adding a little to everything, but also for the gorgeous swallowtail butterfly caterpillars it attracts. Every day the kids check on the caterpillar progress, and any day I think they'll be making some cocoons- they're getting really big! And then there's those cabbage moths... Everyday I swipe dozens of eggs off my broccoli and Brussels sprouts (which are starting to form sprouts too). I get really annoyed with the moths, but then I see 4 or 5 of them playing around the cucumbers and they are busy pollinating those, so I can't decide whether to love or hate the cabbage moths.

With that, I think it's time for my daily inspection.

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