Friday, December 31, 2010


the cukes.  there's a really well-fed aphid colony out there somewhere.
only one giant freaky mutant cuke survived.
momotaro massacre.

sweet charlie in semi-decent-ish shape?

that was lettuce once.
the kale has whiteflies.

oh baby :(
this hurts the most.

once herbs.  now weeds.

yeah.  i cried.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

drowning in tomatoes - just as i wanted

so, what's new with the farm.  the tomatoes all have some type of blight, or something else that is turning their leaves yellow/brown/crunchy.  i'm battling it as furiously as i can, but am slowly losing ground.  so it goes.  they're still producing like crazy, plus i'm leaving the country in a week and have to leave the farm behind ( :( ), so i'll probably just blame it on the subletters =P

as threatened, i killed the squash.  it was a tough decision, but look at it.  it was the right thing to do.  it's so sad though, sticking up its little arm in a last attempt at salvation.......
its former spot looks so weird and empty now....

but, as a result, the gypsy sweet is now at liberty to do its thing.  i had always suspected that its slow pace and dwarfy stature had to do with the squash's bullying, and now it's confirmed.  the gypsy sweet has been growing in leaps and bounds, and although the peppers still take forever and are a little tasteless, we're getting there.  it's probably doubled in size since the squash started going down, pretty crazy.
oh and look who decided to start producing, after an entire summer of dormancy (and me having to feel guilty/like a jackass buying strawberries at the market every week).  just in time for me to leave for the rest of the year and not get to enjoy any of it.  hey sweet charlie.  you're a butthole.
oh and the cucumber has been going NUTS in production after almost shrivelling up and dying along with the squash.  makes me happy.  lunch is served.
although of late it's been making some VERY oddly shaped cucumbers.  no idea what this may indicate, if it's just bad watering practice, or some other pest or disease.  i don't see any critters (aside from the aphids i still regularly squish), and i don't really have the time to look into it either, so i hope it's not serious.
ah, the baby.  my pride and joy.  look at it :)

also, i may be biased, but these tomatoes have got to be the most delicious i have ever tasted.  they are perfectly plump, juicy, sweet, exactly what a tomato should taste like at the peak of summer.  i am definitely going to continue planting the  seeds, there is NO reason to ever have a bad tomato again.

this was the first tomato the baby made me.  i think i might have cried a little.  ok maybe that's exaggerating, but come on, it's shaped like a heart!!  i feel like all my hard work and nurturing and pest-battling went appreciated :)
the jaune flammes aren't so shabby themselves, except the damn birds keep picking the ripe ones before i get a chance to!!
but, birds or no birds, i've had some pretty rockin' harvests as of late, so who am i to complain.  i fulfilled my summer dream of making entire salads without going further than my back porch (this one is freckled lettuce, arugula, persian cucumber, jaune flamme, and momotaro -- with a vinaigrette that josh has taken to making), and i get to make tomato sauce from scratch tonight.  summer mission accomplished :)
ok i get to complain a little because one day while watering the kale/arugula/lettuce/mint tub, i noticed some caterpillar had gone to town on the kale, and when i went to look for it, i found the kale completely overtaken by aphids!!!!   i was not expecting that at all.  so gross, right??  those little mothershits.  while i was busy battling them on the cucumber, they'd set up shop unnoticed next door!!  well, they only lasted about 3 soapy spraydowns, thus the picture below.
i mean, tell me that's not the jam.  it was delicious, too :)  i sauteed the kale with some toasted walnuts and butternut squash (i found my first at the market the past weekend - a sad, but delicious, reminder that the seasons are changing), and it was the perfect dinner.

so that's what's new with the farm.  i'm bummed that i won't get to observe how it behaves as the seasons change, and i'm extra bummed that i won't get to taste the sweet charlies... and i'm guessing the tomatoes will succumb to the blight because i doubt the subletters will battle as ferociously as i did.  but, there's still a week with the farm, and for now...on to that tomato sauce.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

coming and going

been a little while since i've updated. things have been busy.

in regards to the last post - the guy at the gardening store told me to stop wasting my time with soap-, milk-, and baking-soda-based home remedies.  so he sold me poison.  it's organic poison, mind you, but it definitely steps up the combat to a level i didn't want to take it.   i was resigned enough at the time to buy it, so there you go.  poison combat it is.  one kind takes care of the various molds and mildews (copper spray), the other takes care of the little bugs that appear to be burrowing INSIDE the leaves of the cucumber and now tomatoes too (leaf miners) -- the stuff is called Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew, which equal parts cracks me up and bums me out.  i'm a lover not a fighter, but i feel like i'm being left no choice.  oh and some calcium spray to ward off the blossom end rot (which, sadly, HAS, in the end, befallen the baby :/).  fingers crossed.

in other news, i am killing the squash today.  it breaks my heart, but it hasn't produced any squash that aren't yellow and wrinkly and desseccated-looking in weeks now, and it is the main source of powdery mildew for the farm.  i don't know what's happened to it, it's been slowly shrivelling up and drying out.  i can't detect any critters on the surface, maybe they live on the inside?  or maybe it's dying of mildew.  either way, ever since the once-dominant squash has started fading, the gypsy sweet has begun to thrive.   out with the old/broken, in with the new.  i don't have it in me to nurse it back to health.

but onward with the update.

in the pot that was once to house tomato baby #3 (RIP), and then a variety of micro-greens (RIP -- apparently, the guy that told us to keep them OUT of the sun was wrong), josh and i decided to go with some more sturdy leafy greens.  now rocking some freckled lettuce, a new attempt at arugula, some kale, and mint.  salad and mojito time :)
i never talk about the herb garden anymore.  so here it is, the herb garden.  heirloom chives, garlic chives, oregano, parsley, thyme, basil.  the oregano and thyme have been making for some heavenly grilled poultry.
hard to believe, but this is tomato baby #4!!  sprouted at the end of april and planted almost exactly 2 months ago today, i can't believe it's already moved on to producing these perfectly executed little pre-tomatoes (well, minus the rotted blossom-ends).  they grow up so fast!! 
the cucumber, back at it.  makes me happy.  i wanted to make a cucumber salad, but then i had intense salt cravings one day (stress?), and basically used them as delivery vehicles for more salt.  still delicious, though.
this is from when a worm decided to set up shop in one of my jaune flammes.  not cool.
then the momotaro started turning...
...and then bunches of the jaune flamme started turning...
...and now we make entire salads without ever having to leave the house :)  mission accomplished, i'd say.  also, the momotaros have got to be some of the sweetest tomatoes i have ever tasted, it's crazy/awesome!
and, as of this morning, tomato baby #4 has decided to turn, too.  so exciting!!  let the swimming-in-tomatoes commence!

Monday, August 2, 2010


i can't say i'm surprised anymore, but that doesn't mean i'm not bummed.

in addition to continuing to rock the blossom-end rot, the momotaro now also features.... whatever the hell this is.  meh.

and i found new aphid colonies on the cucumber. luckily they don't seem to have spread much yet, but i'm off to the gardening store for answers and ladybugs.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

first own tomato for dinner!! :)

apparently this was as momentous an occasion for josh as it was for me, as he went to the store, got some burrata, home-made a batch of balsamic vinaigrette, and presented me with this the minute i walked in the door.  how's a girl gonna argue with that??
also, they're delicious!!!

all grown up

i think i might cry a little.  heirloom baby has started making babies!!!  i counted a good half dozen this morning, so it looks like it'll be a productive one!  supposedly these will be huge so who knows how long they'll take (considering the cherry tomatoes are taking their sweet time [but see below]), but it's an exciting start, and i can't believe i managed to grow something from seed to fruit.  unless the fruit are all blossom-end-rotty like the other ones, then i'll be bummed.

in other news, i think the first of the jaune flammes are ready to be dinner.  will report back.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

SERIOUSLY stop it!!!

NOW what!!!!  jesus.  i'm losing my patience with the farm.
the yellow spots on the leaves, i was told, could be anything from overdrying/nutrient depletion to overwatering/fungus.  so do i water more?  water less?  keep doing exactly what i'm doing because no matter what it's going to pick up some malady anyway?  i really don't know, and getting advice is almost as frustrating as getting sick plants because diagnoses and advice, much like opinions, seem to be like assholes. 

so who knows.  i gave the farm a good dose of great big plant food and a massive watering and was going to just observe, but what i'm observing as of this morning is rotten-looking fruit??!!??  what is this?  i've heard the term blossom end rot tossed around a bunch, and that's kind of what it looks like, but how can i be sure?  and what's the appropriate course of action?  i'm tired of doing it wrong :/

Friday, July 16, 2010

more on the psychology of farming

so, it has become evident that -- just as they do in most other facets of my life -- my little neuroses and hang-ups and triggers are playing out in my gardening.  after a conversation with my aunt (a very wise woman), i realized that part of my current frustration/obsession with the farm comes from not knowing how to relate to it.  what can i say -- my social instinct is my predominant one.  so, it comes as a shock and an unwelcome experience to me not to be able to "sense into" what's wrong, what's needed, what'll make it better.  plants can only communicate by turning colors, growing/not growing, producing/not producing...... and i don't speak that language.  and since (i think) part of my personality is a pretty keen sense of empathy, being unable to intuit what they need makes me feel, in a way, disabled.  like i'm deaf to their needs.  i don't like it.  i mean, nobody likes to be faced with their shortcomings, but the capacity to "get" others is among the things i happen to like about myself, so this barrier is extra unpleasant.  anyway, according to my aunt, who has been growing orchids for decades, picking up the language and knowing the appropriate course of action comes with time.  but for now, i'm left finding yellow spots, with no clue as to what they're trying to tell me, and no answer as to what'll fix it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


i'm pretty stoked right now.  i got home from work during daylight hours today (shocker, these days), which means i got to spend more than my 5 morning minutes with the farm.  and while doing so, among all the yellow and crusty and patchy and shrivelled and crunchy and spotty and neem-oiled i found.......signs of healthy and green!!  check it out!

the squash. 
compare to the squash leaf next to it.
the cucumber.
compare to the cucumber leaf next to it.
so, i mean, we're still a long ways from healthy -- overall the farm is still looking a mess.  but it's nice to know it hasn't entirely lost the capacity to produce healthy, intact things, and that it's trying to get back to its original, rightful, glory.

so while that's happening, here's today's installment of "look at baby #4 go!!!".  i mean look at it go!  remember when it was just a teensy seedling on top of my heater?  yeah... those were the days.
the only thing pissing me off right now is whatever this is.  it's the tomato plant i found aphids (?) on a day or two ago, so my best guess is this is the damage they managed to do before i neem oiled the shit out of it just now.  i'm going to ask the helpful gardener just in case, but i'm not holding my breath for a response.

so, bottom line: farm is in recovery, life's allright, and i'm going to put my legs up and watch cooking elimination competition shows on tivo :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

are you freakin' KIDDING me right now.

why you little.........

tomatoes now, huh?  enjoy your little banquet while it lasts.  i'm coming after you the minute i have a minute.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

lookin' up

i'm ever so slightly less discouraged today.

the guy at the gardening store this morning said everything will be fine.  as i had hoped, the black, waxy leaves are just the tomatoes' way of complaining about the previous day's neem oil drenching.  apparently i (and by i, i mean josh) set the dial wrong on the fancy mix-and-spray garden-hose-attachment contraption i bought, and what came out was far more concentrated than it should have been.  as long as i clip off the affected leaves, and figure out how to spray neem oil correctly (by hand from now on, blisters-be-damned), i'm golden.  no new disease to tackle - hooray!  as for the persistent white patches and brown spots on the squash and cucumber, he confirmed that it's just mildew, and had to do with the crappy cool weather and overcast mornings we've had.  with the upcoming heatwave (and hopefully a rest of the summer that feels like summer), that too should resolve.

the cucumber made me a cucumber.  i thought it was a sweet gesture.  i made tzatziki for dinner.

and the tomatoes are looking more and more encouraging every day.  although there's still only one that's producing, it's doing so in massive amounts.  i counted 5-6 vines of baby tomatoes this morning.  getting slightly impatient for them to ripen, but may that be the worst of my concerns.

Monday, July 12, 2010

NOW what the #$%%#$#??!!??

seriously, does it ever stop??

now that the cucumber and squash have been relieved of most of their leaves (i haven't taken pictures b/c half naked plants just ain't pretty), i guess it's the tomatoes' turn to pick up some disease or another.  i tried to get advice from the helpful gardener, whose silence is proving rather unhelpful, but i think i'll just clip some leaves and take them to the gardening store before work tomorrow.  i mean, what IS this????  what am i doing to make it do that, or failing to do to prevent it???  i gave all the plants another neem oil hose-down yesterday - maybe too much?  or maybe it's yet another ailment for me to battle.  i am so frustrated right now.  it's happening to all three of my tomato babies.