Tuesday, May 17, 2011

planting again- this time in the community garden

enjoying the blossoms on the community gardens' plum trees

As if eighth of an acre isn't enough- we had to go and get a little plot in the community garden two blocks from our house.

This is the second year we've had a 10 x 15' plot there.  It's not big, but it does have the full sun exposure that our back yard veggie garden lacks, and makes growing tomatoes and peppers and okra a lot easier and more productive.

So last Sunday morning, I put the tomato cages, a shovel and our baby plants in my old wheelbarrow andwheeled it two blocks to the garden.  The fruit trees in the orchard were blooming, the sun was out, there were a few neighbors already in the garden, doing their thing.  It was a good day to be there.

Gita brought the kids around a bit later as well.  They don't stick around to help, but they do like running down the grassy hill that's formed by the bridge abutment immediately adjacent to the garden.   They also like the orchard.  Picking cherries and apricots off the trees last year was a magical experience for them- and for me.  They fell in love with another gardener's raspberry patch as well.  It looks like he cut back on it this year- I wonder if he didn't like losing so much of his harvest to two little garden elves.

our little garden plot

So the tomatoes (Opalka, Garden Peach and two Federle heirlooms that I picked up at the ECFE silent auction) went in the ground.  5 still-small Jaluv An peppers went in, a spindly and sad looking Cream of Saskatchwan watermelon got its own hill and I planted a bunch of other seeds,picking up speed and losing track of what went where as I tried to get everything in before noon.

We were meeting a friend who was visiting from Japan for lunch in Columbia Heights, so instead of being the pleasant task I look forward to all winter, planting the garden was (again) a race against time.

I guess it's an inevitable consequence of being a parent, full-time worker, gardener, managing a rental property and volunteering a bit too.  What gets put on hold?  Usually, it seems like friendships take lowest priority.  The kids won't raise themselves, and a garden can't wait to be planted- so what's left?

"daddy, when will all the tulips be open?"

Back in our yard, the flowers are busting out.  The tulips are at their peak, and all of the natives in the rain garden are hitting their stride as well.  The merry bells uvularia grandiflora are looking better every year, and the trillium keep coming back better each spring as well.

merry bells

trillium grandiflorum w. maidenhair fern
One thing that broke my heart to see, was the aphid infestation (so early- they have hardly even leafed out!) on the lupine.   We had a plague of aphids early last year, and I tried at first to spray them off with the garden hose, and even tried a weak dish soap solution, without much success.

But what did work, was giving up on the aphid control efforts and letting nature do her work.  While I was spraying with soap, I noticed that I had inadvertently sprayed an adult lacewing- a beautiful, and very effective aphid predator.  I stopped- hoping that I hadn't hurt her, and watched as she cleaned her wings.  I was hoping there were more- and a few days later, found lacewing eggs on a nearby plant.

It was too late to save the plants that were first affected- they were completely gone by the end of June.  Sucked dry.  But, I transferred the lacewing eggs to the lupine in another part of the garden and found larvae less than a week later, munching on aphids.  Those plants were saved.  So natural control does work.  I had to lose a few lupine to see it in action- but it worked.  I'm hoping that the harsh winter didn't kill off the lacewing population in our garden.  If they're still here, they could make short work of the aphids moving in.

lupine with aphids

1 comment:

  1. What you have done looks amazing; keep it up.Community garden looks awesome. Looks like your whole family enjoying gardening.