|Garden Report: Is it worth the effort?
||[Jun. 30th, 2011|01:26 pm]
The squirrels appear to be thwarted at the moment. Of course, so am I. Three ciders a roll of chicken wire, wire snips and a staple gun have created an impenetrable fortress for the tomato pots. So impenetrable that I can't get in there either, which is fine for now, but the hints of blush on some of the tomatoes call for a more accessible solution. Captain to the rescue -- I have submitted my desired design for a tomato "coop". |
Which leads me back to -- seriously, I should just buy this this stuff at the farmer's market and I could save hours of time watering and caring for, the expense of soil, pots...and now chicken wire, wood, hinges, etc. That's what I decided several years ago, anyway, when I had a nice raised bed vegetable garden that essentially became a rodent salad bar and by fall the second year had become a raised WEED garden.
I've always grown pots of herbs; I like being able to go out and pick seasoning when I need it. Slowly my collection of mints has been growing...you might call 7 large pots of mint excessive, plus the three varieties which have self transplanted to the spots between the pots...but you clearly don't love mojitos in quite the same way I do.
But last year I tried a pair of tomato plants...which produced modest but appreciated harvests, at least until Gerda the squirrel and her paramour Ziggy found them. This year I thought I'd put the pots on the deck, farther from Gerda and this year's consort Skippy. And -- because I can NOT leave well enough alone...five pots of tomatoes.
I have a problem with STOPPING. I get that. Some people would have one type of toad lily. I have to have them all. One type of astilbe would probably make a more impressive garden, but no, I have to try out four different kinds. I will gladly tell you that Kentucky Colonel is the best all around cocktail/garden mint there is. And I could explain away the variegated mint because it looks great in flower arrangements. The Corsican is just cute. I don't know what to tell you about the others. They just HAPPENED. Thank goodness most of my garden budget was spent and the varieties of scented geraniums at DeBaggio's were fairly depleted before I got there. I STILL wound up with four.
Anyway, Gerda and Skippy made their way to the deck. Apparently they've reached some kind of detente with Mamacat -- and as Mamacat has got to be at least 11-12 years old already (for a feral, she's ancient) that was probably an easy negotiation -- they come and go as they please, EATING MY DAMN TOMATOES.
Despite the squirrel predation, this year I decided to try a bunch of things in pots. From a weed control perspective, pots seem to allow me to keep the damn bermuda grass, crabgrass, ground ivy, pokeweed and all of the other pests out. More of a pain in the neck from a watering perspective, but it gives me an excuse to be outside and commune with nature. Swearing and slapping at mosquitos, waving at the gnats, sweating like a hog.
Every pot I consider an audition -- is it worth the cost and effort? There are plenty of things to try and the only way I can keep myself from covering the entire yard with pots (see above reference to STOPPING) other than running out of money for pots...is to remind myself that not everything will be deemed a success, so the things that didn't make the cut this year, can audition next year.
The tomatoes, especially this year, will probably break even, considering the extra cost of the "cooping". The lettuce was definitely a break-even, since I bought plants. It was nice to have fresh, randomly pickable lettuce to toss in with the grocery romaine. The peas were a bust. I planted too late, but I suspect that considering the space they take up, that even at 3.99 a pound at Whole Foods, they are not cost-effective. I'll give them one more try next year, planted earlier and more condensed, with better trellising.
The Swiss Chard, even though I bought plants, seems like it will pay off handsomely. I've had one meal out of them, already, which paid for the plants and they're nearing another good meal. And so far...no infestations of anything, so they may well keep going through the season. I suspect I will always have a pot of chard in the garden.
I've also got a pot of yellow squash, which is still very young. And a big pot of gay zucchini. Seriously. I fear these guys will never settle down and make a family. I know the guys come out first (I am trying to stay on topic here...but it's dangerously close to derailing, isn't it?) so they can be sure to be ready when the girl blossoms arrive...the ones that result in actual squash, but so far it's like an English public school for boys. I been standing outside threatening to stuff and bake them as blossoms if they don't...straighten out...I SLAY me...but so far, not a plant ovary in sight. And honestly, with only four plants, there aren't enough blossoms to make cooking them worth it. And they KNOW that. Gay omniscient zucchini...only in MY garden.
(I suspect it's actually too much fertilizer in the pot, rather than the sexual orientation of the four plants, for the record. But where's the fun in that?)