August 3rd, 2016

The Givendale Experiment part 2: midsummer report

The Failures
–garlic did not come up on first planting, nor on second, then we found out we should have planted it in the fall. We threw away the (now shrivelled) remaining cloves and postponed the problem until October
–lavender did not come up from seeds. We bought a seedling pot at a garden centre, which thrived indoors for a while, then promptly died when planted in the garden. So we gave up.
–cucumbers should have been started as seedlings indoors but weren’t, so started as seeds in the garden itself–never came up.
–zucchini–never got around to planting
–oregano was planted as seedling indoors but took forever to grow and then died when it was about an inch tall
–soybeans planted 6 indoors as seedlings. Two never sprouted, three sprouted and then died. The sixth grew huge fast, then tipped over and continued growing sideways. It has only a few leaves and essentially a green wire on my balcony, but is alive. I do not understand.
EDIT: I posted this last night and this morning, my weird soybean plant had produced an actual peapod, with seemingly two peas inside it. So maybe that elevates it out of the failures??

The Meh
–chives came up but are quite tiny still, while our neighbours’ chives are huge and proliferating
–cilantro was amazing at first, but quickly “bolted”–got very tall and flowered, and the leaves became extremely thin and tasteless. We found out later this was reaction to the really hot weather, so not our fault. I wanted to keep the plant for seeds, but it got so huge it threatened the tomatoes, so we had to pull it out before the seeds came. I have a teeny one on my balcony that did the same thing in miniature, so I will at least get a few seeds to replant and try again.
–hollyhocks are thriving, but are just a big pot full of green leaves–I don’t know when we get the blossoms (yes, I am freely including things in pots in the garden report–really only applies to this, the mint, and the soybeans)
–mint is, I was warned, incredibly invasive, so these folks told me to grow it in a container instead of the garden. I had grown two plants from seeds, so I put one in a pot and gave the other to the Mighty J. Hers died and mine, while nicely alive, isn’t growing very fast and still doesn’t really seem big enough to harvest leaves from. It could stand to be a bit more invasive, in my opinion.

The Successes
–lettuce were planted from seeds directly in the garden and was one of the first things to come up and is continuing strong. I harvest a couple little lettuces every week and so does J. Nice flavour, and if you put the root in water in the fridge it stays crisp. We added a few more seeds to the same area and it seems we will have lettuce for a while. Some do “bolt” and get tall and skinny with fewer leaves at the top, but I’m trying to eat them before they do that.
–onions were the other first up, also planted directly in the garden from sets, and they came up almost immediately. Initially we were picking them to eat the green parts as scallions, and we nicely thinned the row that way. They are actually white onions, not really scallions, so we are letting the rest grow as big as they care to get so we can eat the white parts. We tried putting in a second row of these, but only two came up. I think onion sets get old, so we gave a few to our neighbour and threw the rest away. 
–sunflower was given to us by another neighbouring gardener as a large seedling. We planted it and it grew like crazy, eventually growing three buds, the first of which opened on the weekend and which you can see above.
–kale is something J picked up as 4 seedlings at a farmer’s market, and it’s growing great and is delicious. We pulled one up by the roots to eat but our neighbour told us if we just pick the leaves they will regrow, so we replanted that guy (and it rerooted, thank goodness) and it’s what we’ve been doing ever since (you could actually do that with the lettuce too, but since we have so much I don’t bother)
–basil is two huge plants I started indoors as seeds and are now doing great. We pick off the flowers and so far that has kept the plant leafing, which is great. On Tuesday I picked a tonne and made some pesto–hopefully I’ll get to do more.

The TBD (but very promising)

–peppers were started from seeds indoors and seemed healthy but spindly. They were very slow to take hold outdoors when we transplanted them, and even when the perked up and seemed healthy, were quite small. They are finally getting bigger and bushier and even have some blossoms.
–the TOMATOES ARE AMAZING! Huge bushes of San Marzano (Italian/plum) tomatoes that I started from seeds indoors, thinned and transplanted. We caged about half of them, because this is my first experiment with cages and also that’s all the cages we had. There are tonnes and tonnes of tomatoes on the bigger bushes (they have grown at all different rates and some are still quite small), and the fruit is getting bigger though it remains green. I cannot stand the wait until we can eat them and am terrified a raccoon or blight or something else will get there first. But oh man are they gorgeous.

The Random Bonuses
–the previous inhabitants of plot #120 abandoned midseason without pulling anything out or turning the soil, so it was a huge mess when we got it. Hidden in the dead plants and weeds was a corner full of thriving leeks. We let them grow a bit in early spring while I looked into it–the internet indicates that leeks are a two-year crop, so this was the fruition of whatever was planted last year. We wanted the garden organized by our own whims, so we dug them very early and had a bunch of delicious baby leeks to eat.
–our French neighbour gave us a big bag of flat-leaf parsley from her plot. Our Italian neighbour gave us a few white radishes, which were tasty, and the aforementioned sunflower. Our Jamaican neighbour let us use his bucket and gave a bunch of unsolicited advice, which would be annoying if he weren’t usually right (and save that kale plant). Our east-side neighbours have never been seen, but their lettuces are doing nicely.

Stay tuned for part three!

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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