Who’s In Charge, Here?

Having a garden is an excellent reminder that you are not in charge of most things. Being that I’m not very keen on not being in charge, these reminders can be a little frustrating. But, knowing how I have a tendency to screw things up when I am in charge, the thought eventually becomes comforting if not reassuring.
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I may be the guardian of my garden, but I am not in charge of it! The garden is a microcosm of the world — maybe even the universe. Within this small boundary measured in square feet rather than lightyears, there are factions of good and evil, fortune and misfortune, tragedy and comedy. I’m just a part of it… the part that supplies the blood, sweat, and tears.
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When James and I last visited the garden, our main objective was to finish assembling the long overdue cucumber trellises. We’d hoped to have them completed, by now, but circumstances conspired to make for a summer ripe with busyness and maybe just a touch of procrastination. James, who was not having the luckiest of days, managed to injure himself twice in the assembly of the trellises: a busted lip from whacking himself in the mouth with the wire cutters and a gnarly set of scratches near his ankle where the fencing suddenly recoiled violently.
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Fortunately, unlike James’ ankle, the cucumbers took to the idea of being trellised rather quickly. Two days after we put the wire fencing onto the trellis brackets and tied the vines to the fencing in a few spots, all of the vines had sent out their own tendrils and were off and running up the trellising. Hoo-ray! And, of course, my heart swells with pride when I see all the wee cucumbers forming.
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The pumpkins have continued their march for domination of the garden. I’m still in the process of being kind to them, though they are certainly trying my patience. Nearly every square foot of the entire southern half of the garden has at least one tendrilled vine slowly sneaking its way across. And, of course, they know no boundaries — the garden fence means absolutely NOTHING to them. After several attempts to keep a few wandering vines on the correct side of the fence, I’ve taken to just letting them go their merry way. At least I’m getting visual cues that they’re growing more than just vines, tendrils and leaves, now! Maybe I’ll get a pumpkin or two from this?

IMG_0740The carrot and cabbage bed is finally looking a bit more like fact than fantasy. The greens from the carrots are filling in, though it appears that the germination for the Tonda di Parigi variety wasn’t so great. Maybe only half of them sprouted. I guess I shouldn’t be too disappointed. The seeds were about two years old and I planted them on a whim. IMG_0728The other two varieties (Royal Chantenay & Carnival Blend) are looking great.

I’ve never grown cabbage, before, so I’m still not sure what to expect from these plants — another instance, I suppose, where I’ll have to take comfort in the fact that I’m not in charge. Apparently, growing cabbage is a fairly easy process since I’ve not found any resources that go into great detail other than how to sow the seeds and weed around the plants.IMG_0730

In the same bed are a few dill plants that were planted at the same time as the cabbage. Supposedly, dill, carrots, and cabbage are happy roommates, so that’s why I put them in the same bed. So far they seem to be getting along well, enjoying their place in the sun. It has not escaped my attention that the pumpkins are slowly annexing the border of the cabbage/carrot/dill bed. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to at least get them to live in harmony since the pumpkins are probably not going to take no for an answer!

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The Scarlet Emperor pole beans are continuing to churn out large clusters of beautiful red flowers and lots of green foliage. The vines are tireless little things. They’d be as frightening as the pumpkins if not for their smaller diameter. So far, the pest that seems to enjoy plaguing the bean bed is the notorious Japanese Beetle. IMG_0727They’ve managed to skeletonize a few leaves here and there and I’ve been there waiting to smash the daylights out of them when I can get hold of them.

Japanese Beetles are nasty little ninja thugs. They move quickly, practically disappear when they take flight, will sometimes just release from the plant and fall to the ground, and they have a pretty tough exoskeleton, so stomping them isn’t necessarily going to do it. In order to kill them you need quick hands and lots of brute force. Of course, this is a delicate procedure since you’re doling out sucker punches in such close quarters with tender plants and blossoms!

I have to admit to taking great pleasure in beating these beetles at their own game. You will occasionally find a beetle feeding on the TOP of the leaves. When you do, you may be fast enough to catch and kill it, but they definitely see you coming and have an advantage. Most of the time, though, they are hiding from you on the underside of leaves. Chances are, you’ll notice a menacing black form through some holes in a leaf. I love pretending that I don’t see them, then quickly pinching the leaf closed and smashing the daylights out of them!! Bwah ha haaaa!

Finding where I belong in the garden microcosm is proving to be fun… at least when it isn’t frustrating or terrifying. (I still run from bees and spiders that seek too much intimacy.) It’s an exciting little world where I’m mother hen in one moment and then a crazed assassin the next. It’s a far cry from the Clark Kent type I am from 9 to 5, anyway.

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~ by Jason on July 6, 2010.

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