Thursday, May 13, 2010

more okra

J and I planted okra last weekend.  After extensive searching a couple of weeks ago, I ended up at Home Depot and bought a little peat pot with four fragile okra seedlings growing in it.  (An aside:  not a fan of buying gardening stuff from this megastore--esp. when we have local vendors--and *certainly* not a fan of anything peat -- peat is a precious resource and is harvested from some pretty sensitive ecosystems; see, "Environmental and Ecological Issues" for more details.)  I was quite dismayed when a few days later, I found what seemed to be sturdier okra seedlings at our local Farmer's Market Store.  Didn't buy any then, because, of course, I didn't need them by that time.  Our little seedlings grew taller and (I thought) stronger under the grow lights for a good 10 days and then last Saturday, we transplanted them.  I separated the four little seedlings (even though I'm supposed to be able to just pop the peat pot into the soil) and carefully placed each one in their own little hole.  (Okra gets BIG and needs space)  Almost immediately, it was clear that they were stressed.  But we hoped for the best.  Sure enough -- by Tuesday three of the four were dead.  D.E.A.D.  So yesterday, I went to our local Farmer's Market Store to buy the better okra, and of course.  They were all gone.  Instead, I found even bigger seedlings at another local vendor, the Garden Center.  Here, the seedlings come two to a *plastic* pot.  Today, I transferred the two to the same hole and decided to let them fight it out.  Next week, I'll have J pick the better of each and clip the weaker.  I have no stomach for that.

Also, today, I bought another heirloom tomato plant, the "German" I think it's called.  Last year, we bought a couple of heiroloom tomato fruits at the farmer's market from a woman named Linda (known for growing high quality, specialty fruits and veggies) and I can honestly say they were the BEST tomatoes I think I've ever tasted.  If I recall correctly, they were this "German" variety.  (I'm hopeful anyway.)  I decided to buy another tomato plant, because, being the clutz that I've become, I snapped off at the soil, one of our better tomato plants by carelessly dragging the hose around.  Frustrating.  I left it in the ground because the stem snapped so cleanly, and I propped it back up so quickly, that I'm hoping it will survive.  When I went out later, it didn't look any worse for the wear... so, who knows?

We covered our beans up with row cover to protect them from bean leaf beetles.  I'm planning on planting a few more bean seeds tomorrow, and then I think our garden plot is set. Today at home, I planted a gardenia in a pot, a couple of Confederate jasmine in the trellised planter boxes, a couple more tomatoes in buckets, and then six basil seedlings, a spearmint and some lemon grass in a long planter box.  I'm nearly done with all my spring planting!

There was a work day at the garden on Tuesday night this week.  I love love love this community and can't say how much I enjoy seeing all these neat people coming together to Contribute.  Hard to believe that just a few months ago, our site was just a vast lot of grass.

**Last weekend, the garden sponsored the last of our spring seminar series (Anne M. did a really great job of putting the series together).  Our speaker, Kristin Lamberson from the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, took the opportunity to educate our group about biodiversity.  She started with a picture of a lawn that she called the "green dead zone."  She made the point very well that turfgrass simply doesn't support much life.  In contrast, she showed a single flowering plant and then described the extensive community of critters that make a living on that plant or on the critters that live on that plant.  She very effectively made the case for appreciating all kinds of life (even mosquitoes).  She's my kind of people.**

Indeed, we've taken that dead zone and created the opportunity for all kinds of diversity.  Check it out:

It's really something else. Gosh it was such a perfect evening too. What a great experience. J worked on putting together cedar logs to make the children's plots (there are 9 of those in the center of the garden -- hard to see them, but they're right in the middle of the picture below),

and I worked with Frankie to hang wire fencing to make an arbor to support a native honeysuckle that should grow up and over. Check out Frankie here, kicking wire ass atop that ladder:

Other helpers worked on the Community Harvest plots, planting or enclosing the plots with cedar logs. One woman (I wish I knew her name!) spent the entire evening weeding the welcoming space at the garden entrance that will eventually be a showcase of Echinacea and other flowering perennials. A few plots in the garden have yet to be worked at all and are becoming quite weedy, a large one near us in fact. Fortunately, our garden manager, Angela, is following the situation carefully and even weeded (by hand!) the large plot near us on Tuesday night -- a very good sam thing to do.

A parting shot (although as of today, there are two):

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