This has been one of the screwiest Springs on record around here. (Records only going back about 8 years, to when the first garden went in.)
Since planting on Mother's Day Weekend, we've had rain, hail, snow, wind, plastic sheeting smushing all the seedlings, cramped roots, voles, transfer shock and who knows what else.
During Sunday's hail storm (our second of the season), I could do nothing but sit in the living room, staring at the wall and hoping for the best.
As for the plastic sheeting, while it seemed a good idea at the time, it did squash plants while not necessarily holding off the frost and freeze. I'll have to invest in some fabric -- or find a grain elevator that will sell me a bunch of burlap sacks. The plastic is tough to work with and leaves a carbon footprint a mile wide.
A number of seedlings weren't making it. The bush cucumbers went in beautifully, but got attacked by the voles and transfer shock. (I'm sure the frost/freeze events last week didn't help.) Monday, Memorial Day, we went out and spent $200 on new plants and flowers. Got the sweet potatoes, even though they're looking a bit rugged. Also noticed growth in the purple potato pots.
Also replanted -- pumpkin, since our from seed batch were looking so ragged and cabbage to replace some of the bush cucumbers. We've also got some garlic popping up!
What we've also got coming up are weeds, lots of weeds, to the point where the boys and I will have to … I'm sorry … my fellow gardening engineers … will have to weed out the entire tomato patch and replant. The weeds have taken over everything, to the point of looking like the algae bloom on Crooked Lake when I was a kid.
We have new tomato plants to replace everything.
I told you it was a fun spring. In fact, at our house, spring is now spelled with a $pring.
Weeds. You betcha, I can grow weeds. Weeds, not Weed, even if this is Colorado. Why do I have the feeling that this is going to be a continuing thread throughout the season? Mr. Bitterman, Furious and Myself hate weeding, but for some reason, Becky loves it. She says it calms her from the stress of living with me and two apes. (Actually, one ape, one monkey.) (Make that two apes, one monkey.)
After Sunday's hailstorm, Furious George ran out and set up the above gag. He thought it was hilarious, but I tried to remind him that many coyotes have been killed or injured under similar circumstances in numerous Warner Bros. cartoons. He was properly chastised, I can tell you.
Well, maybe not.
Well, according to 9 News and News 4 and Fox31 and Channel 7 and The Weather Channel, as well as some Master Gardener Lady in Minneapolis who advised me via the InterWebs, I have done it all wrong.
After a beautiful Mother's Day Weekend and a full week of beautiful temperatures, we took a nose dive into the Upper/Mid 30s this week and all the little weather folks went cattywampus over what to do with your newly installed gardens.
Cover them up, they shouted, snow's a comin,' winter is here and unless we get somebody named Daenerys to fly over with a heartburn afflicted dragon, your little sproutlings will die out like they were all named Lannister! (I don't know what any of that means, but Furious George and Mr. Bitterman took it all very seriously.)
Put a bucket over each seedling, they said. Put large burlap tarps over them, they shouted. Get some King sized cotton sheets and cover your gardens, they squealed. Well, first, I didn't have enough buckets to cover 29 seedlings of various shapes and sizes. I've never seen a burlap tarp in my life -- and -- since grain elevators in major metropolitan areas have largely disappeared, I don't know where I can find burlap sacks anymore. (Never mind -- I just found them both on Amazon. What CAN'T Jeff Bezos provide, that little Capitalist Devil?) As for King sized cotton sheets -- we just have Queen size and I wasn't about to go out and spend $80 on 1000 thread count Egyptian Cotton Sheets on a mere threat of frost.
Whatever you do, they said, don't cover your plants with plastic. But -- since that's all I had, that's what I did. The Master Gardener Lady from Minneapolis warned me that plastic sheets could ATTRACT the cold, but that doesn't seem to have been the case. At least, yet. Downtown got into the 30s, but the lowest we hit was 40, so it didn't seem to attract much of anything … other than bunnies. Tonight is supposed to be the coldest night of all. I'll check the temps tomorrow and pull everything off if I think I can get away with it.
The three gardens have been a challenge this season, with potential transfer shock, roots getting cramped in little Just Plant the Pots! pots, and, bunnies eating the heads off the sunflower shoots. There might also be a Too Much Fertilizer Problem in Nora, as this is her fourth season and I didn't want to see growth problems, so I may have gotten carried away. While the tomatoes and Acorn Squash seem to be doing well, the cucumbers at the north end appear to be dying (burning) out. I've got some spares in the greenhouse I can use to replant.
Here is one of the aforementioned bunnies. There are three of them hanging around the gardens, but as I said, other than the sunflower shoots, they appear to be leaving everything alone. Roscoe and Sadie are mad to catch one, going to the extreme of hunting in a pack like Velociraptors, but so far this season, they haven't caught one. Thank goodness, because you gotta know that nobody is cleaning it up other than Farmer Ted here.
Me, I'm Just Pondering Next Steps and the Question of Where I Left the Vodka.
Nick, the upper garden was laid out nicely (by me) with bush cucumbers in the distance, Hatch Medium Chiles to the right, Hatch Mild Chiles center and Oaxacan Chiles to the left.
Mr. Bitterman was responsible for planting Nora, the lower garden and did a fine job with cucumbers in the distance, garlic next in line, followed by acorn squash and tomato plants. He planted six, even though the plan was only for five. They're looking a bit scraggly at the moment, but we both agreed it was due to transplant shock.
Asta was planted by Furious George and I had to wonder if he had been drinking before he planted. Asta was only supposed to hold 3 pumpkin plants, but George discovered he still had three plants left when he was done with the pumpkins, so he put those in as well. "What were those," I asked.
I have no fucking idea," said my small and hairy assistant.
So, like the great Zucchini debacle of a few years back, I guess we'll wait and see what we get. This should be interesting. (Transplant shock again, even though they look like George drove over them with a Kubota Tractor.)
FURIOUS GEORGE FAKING A LOOK OF SHAME:
FURIOUS GEORGE REACTING WHEN I TELL HIM HE SHOULD BE ASHAMED:
Mr. Bitterman begins his summer long journey of worry -- as he ponders temperatures, water, hail patterns, insects and the goddamned bunny who was sleeping in Asta this afternoon with the freshly planted pumpkins and mystery veg. The rabbit hardly seemed bothered by the Liquid Fence. (Which, oddly enough, Furious George uses as cologne.)
This summer's gardening hat -- and main gardening accessory.
First planting, 2019 -- Basil on the Back Porch. The big one is a plant I bought at Home Deport, surrounding it are four scrawny seedlings given to Becky by some one at school. They were just going to throw them out, but I want to bring them back to life. I'm just like that.
One of them is so scrawny you can barely see him in the barrel. She'll get all my attention this season, as I'm determined to see her flourish.
On to the big gardens tomorrow!
The frost warnings have finally gone for the week (Until, of course, all the little weather gurus suddenly discover one late this week that they missed. That missage won't prevent them from saying "As I predicted … Little bastards.)
So, Monday, I begin to plant. Everything this year will be grown from seed (including little purple potatoes), except the Sweet 100 tomatoes and Sweet Potatoes -- if we can find them at Wally World.
This year, it will be tomatoes and acorn squash, cucumbers and cucumber bushes, Oaxacan chiles and Hatch Chiles, Christmas Lima beans, sunflowers and garlic, basil, lavender and a ton of wildflowers in the butterfly garden.
Bunny protection will be provided by Liquid Fence (a noxious smelling concoction available at Home Depot -- don't get it on you, you'll be a social pariah for days) and a homebrew of water, dish soap and castor oil (don't taste it -- you'll be in the bathroom for days.) I've also got some fencing that will go up and around the sunflowers until they've matured. Bunnies seem to love the shoots.
As for the notion that I'm turning into Mr. Natural, one of my longtime heroes, truth be told, I am beginning to resemble the fellow -- him and Wimpy, Popeye's hamburger loving friend. I see one or the other in the mirror each morning, it all depends on how I slept.
And, more and more I think he's right ...
TO THE GARDEN!!!