Garden Report: August 20

I've had a weird year of semi-failures, outright failures, and mysterious successes in the garden.

For example, I give you this liatris. I started this from seed in the winter, and planted it here, and it died. Or, well, it seemed to die, but then suddenly there was a plant growing there and it was clearly something other than Bermuda grass, so I knew it was mine and let it get big.

Liatris in the salvia bed

I have no idea how it survived, but I like it. I wish the eleven others I planted had been as hardy. I'll try again next year, I suppose.

But you know, successes are not quite as interesting as failures, are they?

This appears to be okra. I say appears to be because I managed to not label it, figuring that I would be able to identify it by the fruit, which of course it has not produced, although I find the furled flower there very promising. I'm not sure what it wants that it's not getting, but I'm going to take a guess and say that it doesn't care for how the chickens like to peck at its leaves.

Okra plant

This is supposed to be a pickling cucumber. There are actually some incredibly tiny cukes on there, but I'm going to write this off as a total loss. Next year, for sure, right? I've never been particularly good at the viney plants like cucumbers or squash, and I have no idea why. I'd think it's not getting enough water, but it's getting as much as the tomatoes got last summer because that's where it's planted.

A very small, sad cucumber plant

Enough of the disasters. I'm getting a real kick out of walking by the passiflora every day. Here you see three stages of fruiting: the flower, a shriveling bud, and a fruit starting to form inside a shriveled bud. I'd feel better about this if the poor vine was not growing on a tomato cage for lack of proper support. It's my evidence that I am not superhuman, because if I were I would have built another trellis this summer instead of taking so long to build a silly shed and fit out a pantry.

More passionfruits

And out latest project involves re-homing the fish. You may recall that we have two fish: Fish and Fish. (We previously also had Mr. Fish, but he died.) Fish has grown very large and changed colour to a pinkish orange that is very identifiable, so I could name him something else, but I don't feel like it. Fish, on the other hand, is still about the size he used to be, and the same orange colour.

Anyway, we decided it was about time we got them out of the yard and into a decent fish tank in the house, in no small part because their tank had developed a leak from its former life as a rat house (before we owned it). While we work on building a tank stand, cleaning and repairing the old tank, and obtaining or building a suitable hood with lamps, Fish and Fish have been relocated to the mini-pond liner thing we got from a neighbor, closed in the shed to help prevent unfortunate dog accidents. They seem to like it in there.

(You can't see them in this photo. That odd thing on the right is a tuber from a lotus plant that is also failing to function as desired, but that's entirely because it wants a much more substantial container in deeper water in full sun, none of which I gave it. Sometimes garden failures are for totally obvious reasons.)

Fish temporary pond

Anyway, I'm in the middle of planning a massive planting binge for this winter, toodling around the garden with a site plan and a pencil, poring over catalogs (I just placed a ridiculous fall bulb order), and so on. Every failure is an opportunity to try something else (and probably fail at it, given my track record). I've tried to grow cucumbers about seven summers without any success, but next year I will be there with more cucumber seedlings to try. You gardeners know what I'm talking about; everybody else thinks I'm bashing my head into a wall.

Also, for those who have asked, Liza is doing much better, enough so that giving her her medicine has become very amusing, I'm sure, from an observer's standpoint. We take this as a good sign.

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posted by ayse on 08/20/08