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.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

this is the part where the music gets all serious and things go dark

the farm is seriously unwell, and it bums me out to no end.  like, excessively so.  i set it up to be right outside the kitchen window so it would be the first thing i saw while making coffee and i could bask in its vegetable glory.  now it's the first thing i see while making my coffee and it ruins my day.  my therapist thinks that part of the joy i got from it had to do with the notion of "taking root," which i, as someone who changed countries midway through childhood and continents midway through adolescence, never got to do.  well, my surrogate roots are now under attack from forces i neither understand nor can keep up with, and looking at them is like a wilted rotten slap in the face reminding me that joy is fleeting and fickle, and unless you make a battle of it, it'll be taken from you.  see?  there's the drama.  i try to remind myself that it's just a back porch farm, that there's a learning curve, that it's bum luck.  but i can't help but get discouraged.  i mean, look!

my once bountiful cucumber, now reduced to desiccated stubs.

and the once uncontested climbing champ, now hanging on by threads (literally... the tendrils dried up so i had to tie it to the trellis), with half its leaves clipped and the other half going yellow.  every day i see more yellow.  every day i clip more leaves.  it's like the movie star who's finding her glorious locks falling out by the fistful.  only with more insects.  although they should be dead insects now, i went to the gardening store and asked for advice, and was told to take some neem oil to it.  fingers crossed that the hose-down i gave it earlier took care of the little pests (sorry, bees).
the gypsy sweet, still faithfully making one pepper every couple of weeks, hasn't grown one bit.  i untied it from the stake b/c i thought maybe i'm choking it, but no improvement.  i don't know what it's unhappy about.  i don't know what to give it.  someone is also chowing down on it.
sweet charlie hasn't produced anything since the first 3 strawberries weeks ago.  not even a sign of a flower on either plant.  i don't know what it's unhappy about.  i don't know what to give it. 
the mildew on the squash is also getting worse, despite a half-hour baking soda spray-down that gave me blisters on my hands.  i guess i didn't take a picture.  it is also now showered in neem oil.

oh and i killed most of the lettuces.  the middle one just kind of wilted and disappeared, and the 4 on the periphery are struggling.  one out of the four seems to be doing allright -- not growing per se, but also not dying.  at this point, that's success.  the other ones are slowly going the way of the middle one.  i moved them out of the shade and into a sunnier spot today.  maybe the guy at the market was wrong and they do want some sun.  who doesn't want sun?  or maybe that was the worst option and i'll find them completely dried out tomorrow.  anyway, no pictures because who wants to see a dying microgreen.

so, i'm obviously quite dejected and part of me wants to throw in the towel.  but i'm not good at giving up, and besides, if it bounces back, how glorious will that be?!!?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

tomato time

despite the tragedy of the various cucumber/squash infections/infestations (ugh!), there's progress in tomato towne.  look at baby #4 go!!  unlike its unsuccessful sibling, this one is thriving.  minus the part where some caterpillar or something is going to town on it.  who be chowin' down on my baby!!?!  i can't for the life of me track the culprit down.

the adopted babies are thriving as well.  from planting to top-of-the-trellis in, what, 5 weeks?  i'm done being amazed by the changes that literally occur while i'm away at work -- now i'm just ready for some serious tomato ripening!!

tragedy mounts

i'm told the white patches are powdery mildew, a fungal infection.  gross.  supposedly a spray-down with a mixture of baking soda, soap, and water (soap...and water....waterwaterwaterwater....) will manage it, but while spraying down, i noticed....

...aphids!!!!  mother#$%^&*!!!  and look, they're making more of themselves!!  jerks.

need course of action fast.  more soapy water?  ladybugs?  instant poison aphid colony extermination service?  i am so offended.  no one eats my cukes but me.