One of the wonderful things about gardening in Colorado is the ever present threat of hail. Not just itty-bitty pea sized hail, or, itty-bitty hail sized peas, my favorite vegetable, but hail the size of regulation baseballs. Hail that takes out roofs and cars and recently planted, expensive seedlings that have been nutured better than the children ever were since February.
Now, this is not to make fun of hail. Hail is a dangerous, and potentially deadly, weather phenomenon. It can mess up a home, a head or a garden very quickly.
"Motherscratcher! And I just got the little bastard paid off!"
Read stories of Colorado back in the day and you'll find tales of horses trying to outrun hailstorms, trains stopped by piles of hail, homes, lives and livelihoods destroyed by the aerial ice cubes.
Naturally, the weather folks in the region have been threatening severe weather and heavy hail all day long -- first, because alerting people is a public service, and part of their jobs as meteorologists, but also because, talking about hail and lightning and four feet of snow tends to scare people into watching longer for the next little tidbit of information. (One guy here in Denver is a master of the "I'll have more in my NEXT segment ..." pitch, thus getting people to stick around LONG past their bedtime, which for me has come within hailing distance of my late afternoon nap and is reaching epic proportions.)
With all that in mind, as well as my paranoiac personal personality, I will be standing outside all day, sheet plastic in hand, ready to cover anything and everything as quickly as possible in the hopes of saving one of my easily $40 tomatoes. Yes, I know that they are informing me and playing me at the same time -- I've been in the TV news business, watching and listening to them, up close, for 43 years -- but I still buy into it each and every time, just cuz a few of them I trust ... with my gardens, my family and, occasionally, my life.
As for the boys, they both wanted hats to fend off possible hail attacks this afternoon. Mr. Bitterman chose the hat on the left, as it would take some serious hail damage before anything reached his noggin, while Furious George insisted on the hat on the right, as it was "stylin.'" He refused the fur stole as he already has his own.
I don't care what anybody tells you, nobody can truly predict the weather. Any more than 48 hours out and they have no idea. "We've got a good guess," but that's about it. Watch the three day. Pay attention to that. 7-10 and 15 day forecasts are about as reliable as Sarah Huckabee Sanders doing her Alfred E. Neuman impression.
Naturally, for two weeks, I watched the 3-7-10 and 15 day forecasts and convinced of the overnight lows, I jumped into planting. Put in the garden and voila! Sunday night, as I poured the last of the compost out of my shoes and into the carpet, the weather folks said that Friday night the temp is going down between 36 and 40, depending on who you listen to ...
It's not freezing, but it's close. I just hope I can hardy the kids up before their chilly sleep over.
Most accurate forecast my ass.
The gardens went in Sunday in two sections: first, came the home grown seedlings, 7 tomato plants, two bean plants, one acorn squash. (The beans and squash were amended by new seed plantings.) We've been building up the soil all winter with compost, all the various fertilizers that have been sitting in the garage, fish spray and prayer.
Now, we wait to see if any of it works. (I'm betting on compost and prayer.)
As you can see, King Kong eating gnomes has taken his place in a prominent corner of the lower garden (Nora), once again in an effort to keep vegetable predators at bay.
In an effort to keep the ravenous squirrel and bunny (Kneel! Kneel to your Rabbit Overlords!) populations from eating the seedlings, Furious went around pouring red pepper flakes on everything, followed by another jar of animal keep away he found in the garage and about two gallons of Liquid Fence. The Liquid Fence smells horrible and Furious got it all over himself, but I must admit he smells better now than usual.
The gardens smell like an Italian salad.
Mr. Bitterman planted sunflowers in a small plot we have up near the house. He covered them with the red pepper flakes and Liquid Fence, then wrapped a wholly inadequate fence around them which should hold the squirrels and bunnies out for about 3.5 seconds as they ask themselves, "What the hell?"
You'll notice the fleur de lis on the cobbled together fencing. This is in honor of a distant family relative, Marshal Phillipe Petain, the hero of Verdun in World War I who said, "They shall not pass." Sadly, he was still around and in charge in World War II when he looked at the German Panzers and said, "Yeah. For sure. Come on in ..."
I just hope these are not German bunnies we are trying to keep out.
We finished off the gardens with a quick trip to Walmart, buying cucumbers (3), peppers (8) and cauliflower (6). The cauliflower might be this year's zucchini, as I like it, but am not crazy about it, and, without looking, we bought a six pack of it. Bitterman thought it was one big plant. It was six little ones.
Looks like a lot of cruciferous vegetable dinners this August.
Mmmmmmm. (Followed by a concert by Le Petomane, flatulist extraordinaire.)
Whatever you do, don't pull his finger.
One of the three acorn squash plants (the rest are in seed form) and two of the cukes.
And, then, there's this guy -- we really have no idea who or what he is. It would serve me right if it was a zucchini as they took over the garden last year. We're waiting to see. No hints!
Furious is convinced that he can keep the squirrels and bunnies out of the sunflowers and gardens better than Marshal Petain. He still has the cap guns and the hat from a Disney photo shoot he did some years ago. He lost the scarf and I replaced it with a long chunk of paper towel. It has got a floral pattern on it and he's not happy at all.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bitterman took us to Walmart Sunday afternoon in his new car, a 1950 Chalyabinsk Krakozyabng. He got it for a song. A Russian song, but, as we all know, those have become very popular in Washington lately.
The thing drinks oil like a drunken sailor on liberty in Iraq and has a turning radius of about two miles, just slightly less than an Iowa-class battleship, but the radio's great and he loves it like it was his first car.
Which it is.
Best thing about it is that the front is the back and the back is the front. You climb in through a little hatch in the front which looks like the back, then, put it in Drive (Reverse) to go forward (backward).
Nobody ever knows if you're coming at them or going away. He caused a hell of stir Sunday on I-25.
Until next time, kids! (Tomatoes not shown to scale.)