wandering the beds this morning i did a month end ( almost ) census of plants up and running in the community garden...things are coming along and the population is something like this: asparagus 9, beans 38, broccoli 10, cabbage 10, cantaloupe 4, collards 8, cucumbers 4, garlic 18, jerusalem artichokes 28, kale 4, mashua 1, okra 16 ( these will need to be thinned soon ), onions 12, peppers 22, potatoes 21, spinach 10, tomatoes 8, turnips 16...i try not to do math in public but i believe that leaves us with a total of 239 plants...feel free to check my work...word critiques carefully...there are still several unplanted beds out there so this should, hopefully, be a beginning population and one that will be cyclically renewed...we have seed for radishes, brussels sprouts, and overwintering onions on the way for fall planting so we should be producing through october or beyond given good weather...population updates will therefore be sporadic but reasonably accurate.
more asparagus has popped up in the bed of my truck so i took the opportunity to transplant four more to the bed in the garden ( which just about finishes what we can do there )...they are lanky little guys and you can see in the last two photos that the root system is the larger part of the plant...it will remain so for the plants entire life as the roots extend deep into the ground...they like well drained soil so i am not sure of their long-term viability in a lot with lots of building debris buried in it...the next few seasons should tell us the story...if they take to their new home they will produce for decades if properly cared for...they are heavy feeders and need infusions of compost yearly...usually when i mulch them for winter the first thing down is a thick layer of compost for spring feeding...then straw and fabric...that will be the mo here come fall.
top to bottom: jerusalem artichokes, a robust potato plant, mashua looking like the nasturtium it is, new zealand white clover blooming, a pepper flower, and some tomato blooms...there will be varying flowers all summer...we'll see how many we can catch.
the top photo is what the mason bee house looked like yesterday evening...the second photo is what it looked like when i went out back this morning...ravaged...probably by the damned squirrels...with reeds strewn all over the ground ( third photo )...after the irritation died down and i began to assess damage by looking at the reeds i discovered some of the meal had been left behind and the remains were unhatched bee larvae...even though i [reserved them in the vegetable crisper ( per the vendor's instructions ) until the proper climatic conditions were reached before putting them out some of the larvae clearly did not survive...so..i will let the reeds dry ( it rained here this morning ) replace them in the bee house ( after i fortify it with chicken wire as i did the leaf cutter house in the bottom photo )and try to perhaps provide an environment for some more local small bees to utilize...i believe my mason bee consumer days may be limited...we'll see how the leaf cutters do...it has not been a particularly exhilarating start to the day.
the grape vine growing up through the elm tree at the end of the patio ( top photo ) is pretty well secured...it is anchored by a tendril at the bottom ( second photo ) and at the top ( third photo )...like all vining plants it expends considerable energy in tendrils to hold it in lace as it moves towards the sun...there are quite a few tendrils in the back yard...the winter vetch in the next two photos will latch on to anything ( including other vetch plants ) to support itself and with all those blossoms the stems are surprisingly heavy...if you look closely at the foliage in those photos you can see where the weight has bent those grass plants over double and in the fourth photo the grass stem is almost broken..relentless pursuit of light...the flowering pea plant in the bottom photo has plenty of tendrils as well but, so far, has refused to latch on to the posts i put in the container to act as a trellis...adding some twine would seem to be the thing to do...tomorrow probably.
while i was out snapping photos of tendrils among the winter vetch i bumped into this critter patiently gathering pollen...there may be pathogens that affect bees in my yard but i guarantee there are no neonicotinoids out there...i have an organic yard ( some of my neighbors would probably say "overgrown weed lot" but i am not courting them romantically or in the realm of public opinion so they will simply have to deal...they are chemlawn people anyway )...so there is a honey bee colony somewhere around here...i wish i could report some sort of solid evidence of mason bees or alfalfa leaf cutters in my yard but there is nothing concrete...i have seen nothing that resembles a mason bee yet and while i have seen what has been tentatively identified as a leaf cutter i have no way of knowing if it is one i put out...i have seen nothing in the way of bees by the bee houses yet so i will just keep looking until enough time has passed that any hope of actual bees is past...believe me, if and when the time comes i will be yelling about it.
...and things are coming along...one look at the leaves on the mashua in the top show you they are members of the nasturtium family...what they can't show you is how absolutely geeked i am to see them ...you'll have to trust me on this...the second photo is of an ollala potato plant...andean tubers abound...and, while we're focused in on the solanum family let's have a look at the first tomato of the season in the third photo...quick start...the asparagus in the fourth photo is looking robust in its second year...meanwhile the peppers in the fifth photo are racing to catch the tomatoes...blooms and fruit before you know it...the garlic in the last photo is looking like it owns the bed..it will be done in a month or so...then pasta sauce with organic garlic...we will eat well.
the intermediate wheat grass is beginning to produce seed ( first two photos ) and the spring wheat in the third ( with some alfalfa as a backdrop ) is coming along as well...though the two are not directly related in terms of ancestor/domesticate, they are genetically similar enough that the two can be interbred to create a perennial, wheat-like grain ( check out the work at the land institute ) so it will be an interesting comparison as they mature...there are fourteen ( at last count ) northern tepehuan teosinte plants out in the cages so far and they look robust ( fourth photo )...looking forward to ears of the maize ancestor growing outside my basement ( that plant has pretty much died back down there...still geeked it produced seed in the basement...a post in the works on that...finally i noticed a lonely stand of winter rye out by the compost bin...wonder who could have dropped errant seed there...
the legumes are in bloom out there...the sugar snap peas ( top photo ) are setting nitrogen in the containers but they are meant to be eaten and will be, pod by pod...the winter vetch ( second and third photos ) is a riot of violet and it is setting nitrogen too...they are surrounding the garlic patch so we will see if the nitrogen has an impact on the bulbs soon enough...i'm letting them "go to seed" so we will have local seed for green manures in the gardens this autumn to pair up with some field peas and winter rye as a natural fertilizer/compost in the bed combination for the 2016 season ( depending, i suppose, on how well this idea actually functions in the community garden this season...there were several beds that had no soil amendments [compost, not chemicals] added beyond what the green manures provided and what was stored in the clover and winter rye i turned under a few weeks ago...we'll see how that flies and the empirical data from that will set the future course )...the last photo is of the six year old asparagus in my yard...i have not harvested it because i am letting it "fern" to 1) feed the roots, and 2) i want some asparagus seed this autumn....a few more days and it won't be recognizable as farm stand/supermarket asparagus anymore...just a six foot tall fern.
an industrial worker and university student (everyone needs a hobby...my hobbies have evolved and, to keep things straight, i have left my formal student career behind for reasons that are too detailed to delve into here...continuing to be a student of life however and not adverse to learning...stasis is death ) sliding down the back side of middle age...a social loner with collectivist leanings...explain that.