Sunday, April 26, 2009

The attraction to all things thorny

As I am attempting to add to my garden more “Methesulah” type plants (those that produce forever), the idea of artichokes caught my eye. As some of you may have been able to ascertain, I am not the most patient girl in the world and so I got really giddy which I heard of the Imperial Star artichoke variety that produces fruit in its first year.

Unfortunately I had to nix the idea due to lack of room/planning for a plant that gets that big. I was more saddened by the fact that I would not get to run around the yard chasing my husband with a big thorny ended stick.

Now the question is, why do I really want to grow artichokes? Answer: obviously because I like violence. No! I am really a peace loving person! I have contemplated growing patchouli in the herb garden!

Run free my plants!

For a while I was on the cuff as to whether or not I wanted to start an asparagus bed because my research showed that it took SO LONG (3 years to be precise) before you could even start harvesting. Luckily they do sell 2 years old and 3 year old asparagus plants, but I heard that the 3 year olds were not so great and were of very little difference in growth compared to the 2 year old plants (other than the exorbitant price hike).

The lure of plants that could provide me with 30 years (or more!) of harvests and fact that Gurneys does “buy one set, get one free” was too great of deal that we bit. Naturally I was bored and poked at the plants for the first year, scowling at the tiny q-tip thin fronds that came up the first year, but this year, yes, their older brothers have arrived (I am not anti-sister, sisters, I just have male plants, dig it?)

Despite not a huge harvest (potentially due to the fast we had to move the plants and their massive root systems elsewhere earlier in the year because the spot they were in was not good), we’ve gotten a good number of thumb-thick stalks and are lovin’ it. Take that McDonalds. (Dear lard, I just imagined Mickey D’s deep frying asparagus now and serving it in little cardboard boxes!)

Speaking of Gurney’s, this is the same supplier that enticed me with their “buy one, get one free!” strawberry plants. I foolishly did not plant them in a raised bed and they escaped, scampering their way underneath the fence into my neighbor’s backyard and the park. It’s somewhat amusing to see the plants meandering along the fence (they won’t do well I suspect because there is little light there with the huge trees and all, but still, they survive!) Nothing tastes better than Houdini produce.

Peas off

Early in this year (warm day in February) I planted pea seeds because I heard that they are pretty cold hardy and you could plant when the ground was workable. Apparently what I think is workable is not the official gardening definition of workable. But baby, I did work it. I was full of excitement, planting the various garden, sugar, snow and etc peas here and there, some on one side of the trellis, others on the other side and lovingly covered them up and went my way.

Some days later I was listening to NPR and they were singing the praises of advances in the understanding of genetics and Gregor Mendel. At his name, something twinged in me. I felt myself transported to some point in fifth grade…I saw the squares and the capitalized and lower case letters flash before mine stupid eyes when the realization dawned that I would not be getting the expected snow/sugar/garden peas. My peas would be miscegenating! I did a mini scream in the car when this occurred and smacked my forehead a few times. Before deciding that there could be worse surprises.

Shiso Fine

sSo I have this plant called Shiso, Purple Perilla, Beefsteak plant, what have you, and it’s lovely. Except for the fact that it is, shall we say, a rolling stone? It’s actually quite funny, I had previously bought Shiso seeds prior to attaining this plant, with the thought of some exotic herb growing in my garden. I never saw one seedling come up from it and was not very happy, cursing the lack of the exotic to my garden. Since I was not so quite up to date in the gardening world (aka, did not research/was not observative) I did not notice the striking similarities between the Botanical Interests packet’s lovely, artistic rendition to my real live Perilla plant.

The perilla/shiso/beefsteak plant got huge and I separated it, moved bits and pieces of it around, pulled it up and moved and its various selves to approximately 80 different locations in my yard. Little did I know that that was not enough for my little Shiso. She is so everywhere. In the garden path (HOW?) ALL around the raised bed my husband and I made around the tree (she was only in 3 different places too!) Admittedly the purple, green, gray seedlings do look great with the Japanese painted lady fern and the other various coincidental purple flowers that sprung up around it, but have mercy… my perilla from last year got to be at least a foot and a half tall from one plant. And now I have literally hundreds of them everywhere.

I have been doing great amounts of research into what I can cook these into, from pesto to wrapping them around meat bits. (why do I always seem to write double entendres? Better yet, why don’t I edit them out?)

So, hey, if anyone wants to horror/glory of this plant, please, contact me. I have a few to spare.

Take that frost date

I have been making the effort to grow most everything by seeds since it’s cheaper and my husband and I enjoy pretending we are old Depression era souls. Growing by seed is a labor intensive and not so labor intensive process all at the same time because sometimes you’ve got seeds like peas and mustard and beans which means you just chuck them in the ground when it’s warm enough and it’s like, poof! there’ s a plant. Other seeds, I think I’ve learned it’s better to start ahead because you want the delicious faster and sometimes those plants need to be big and strong when they are put out in the garden to combat the toils of Memphis’s crazed weather. It’s like Mother Nature is on crack here and you just can’t predict what she’ll do next. So some of your babies are delicate and need the abuse of a personal gardener such as yourself before MN (and the monster bugs) can get a whack at them.

Most of the time I can be super dumb and decide to seed start early indoors because I NEED to see something potentially delicious growing during the chill of winter and the dream of home grown food can sustain me whilst I stroke my deer foot fern like the cat of a crazed evil doer commonly depicted in movies. (I have heard that ferns are edible, esp their fiddleheads, but I still have yet to go there. If I started eating the ones I have there would be no ferns left. Do you any idea how long some ferns take to grow?!? If only that cinnamon fern tasted like cinnamon and if that Japanese painted lady tasted like…. Just kidding).

Luckily once the season gets warm enough and I have decided that M.N. isn’t looking, I tend to plant in say….. the warmest day in February (that was one beautiful 80 degree Fahrenheit day by the way this year) only to find out (because I am the best gardener ever) that it was going to rain, potentially hail and freeze over several times over the next day. I decided that the seeds, screw it, they’re cheap, if they live, they live, if they don’t, I just notched more points on the experience-o-meter. Not only did some live (even the tender nasturtiums!) through the freezes through my covering up efforts, I got peas and some veggies in late March! Booyashaka to you naysayers, you, “doom to all who plant before April 15thers!” I grew the delicious! It’s done and will proceed with regular programming!

Already, April 23, my bean plants are sprouting their tender necks above the soil rim, my strawberries are showing the beginnings of green berries and the asparagus, it’s been producing and I’ve been whacking it. That sounded wrong, but hey, life is good and growing.

Hey, wow, nearly a year anniversary because I can'tkeep up with blogs!

So, here I am... trying to do a gardening blog thing yet again, but now, I am a lady on a mission. I have written *gasp* an article on gardening and I figure I get way too zealous gardening that I can't keep it to myself, so in a frenzy I wrote some mini blogs one day. Enjoy! (Hopefully I can keep this up)