Monday, April 14, 2008

cabin garden

The cabin garden too has suffered with the weather. I’m still learning how to garden and that probably doesn’t help. All my learning comes through experience, and as the garden suffers and I unwittingly do things that aren’t right my learning curve steepens. For instance I have beetles that look a little like the Colorado Beetles that terrify UK farmers, they are small, less than a centimeter and pretty with dark brown backs and cream and pink spots. I know they are eating the leaves but I figured there were enough leaves for us all. However they seem to enjoy the katuk and bean leaves the best of all. My little katuk plants which were just beginning to take after a month of sickliness and looking horribly munched, the tios have gone sending the plants into shock. Hopefully they will recover, but I have to start killing the beetles. The katuk and beans are between two rows of pumpkins and beside a patch of yucca and below a huge hibiscus hedge, all of which have plenty of succulent, edible vegetation. But the beetles show no interest. I don’t want to kill them. I’ll try spraying the leaves with soap first.
My pumpkins are slowly recovering from the dry weather, I watered them every day but they are big and thirsty. Older leaves yellowed and died leaving bare earth below which seems shocking to me in their patch of dark green mottled with silver. The pumpkins send up flowers along the length of the stalk and they bloom in steady procession one follows the other day by day. The male flowers that is. The females are much further down the stem and flower out of order, opening when only one other male on her plant is in bloom – cross pollination is thus more or less guaranteed. However with the weather the plants were cutting back, withdrawing water from tips allowing them to die and dropping female buds – conserving energy. Now with the rain there is new growth and I count 3 female flowers ready to open. However there are fewer males – yesterday I picked 14, two weeks ago I was harvesting 25. I had one female open the day of the heavy rain but there were precious few black bees out and she closed unfertilized. I tried my best with a q-tip but there were a lot of little ants in there and I think they ate the pollen I had smeared on her. Whichever, it’s been two days since she opened and her baby pumpkin which sits directly below the flower doesn’t look swollen at all.
Gardening provides such valuable lessons – patience, natural cycles, not taking things personally. My watermelons for instance. Such delicate plants and so susceptible to munching creatures. Except they must smell better than they taste for something chews through tips and the slender stalks of sprouts but doesn’t eat what it breaks off. Needless killing. My mind is trying to take this personally, which of course is insane. But I’m down to two chewed up and spat out watermelons which after 6 weeks growth are down once again to 7 leaves apiece. The beautiful flowers and therefore potential fruit are dead and rotting back to earth. Watermelons in the books like humidity and sun – they should be thriving here. But no. I’ll try again, but this time I’m starting them in pots on the deck. The same for my tomatoes, I’ll start more but up here where they will be more protected from insects and heavy rains.