Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Peeking intot the garden

Late last summer, I planted two artichoke starts on the back hill.  Artichoke plants get very large, and they look incredibly hardy and robust.  However, these are easily the most dramatic plant I've ever dealt with.  A few warm days, a missed watering or two, and they completely collapse, laying wilted and exhausted on the dirt.  Then, you sprinkle them with some water, and a few hours later they are upright and sprightly once again.  Oh, my laws, they just can't tolerate inattention.

These pictures were taken in the late afternoon yesterday, so they are in the shade of the house (though the beautiful afternoon sun is undeniable in the background!) but I think you can tell that these are two plants, stacked on the hill there, and they are both well over two feet tall.  These were about 6 inches tall when I planted them.  All that rain this last month has clearly done them some good!  I kind of went out in the afternoon, expecting carnage, but found this instead.  Sweet, sweet garden surprises.  I have no idea what, if any, production will occur, but I'm so pleased with their progress!

I also found the beginnings of tulips, daffodils, and crocuses.  All of these are from last winter (November of '08), when I planted some bulbs.  Last January, in marked contrast from this January, we had a heat wave, and I can remember all the tulips blooming prematurely, then drowning and shriveling just a few weeks later.  *sigh*  So much better to see these friends reappearing in February...I can't wait until I see them fully formed in March!

And then, there's this.  Those are weeds covering the steps to the raised patio.  Oh, and those are Halloween decorations.  Ahem.  I started this weekend by hand pulling weeds growing amongst the pavers on top of the patio.  I'm hoping that this weekend will be clear enough to get in and really start weeding in earnest.  As a hobbyist gardener, I've had to learn to embrace the process of weeding.  This early in the season, it's still novel enough.  Check with me in April, and I'm sure I'll be less enchanted.

The yard is still over-wintering, and I'm barely beginning to take inventory.  I'm pretty sad that I appear to have lost two large flowering bushes near the gate beneath my bedroom window.  They are very twiggy, and they should both already be getting leaves and buds for blooms.  I'm wondering if they 'drowned'?  I never thought too much about the soil drainage in that area.  I've been getting ready to direct sow into the raised beds a few early spring crops.  I'm a little nervous, because I would have told you six weeks ago that we never get a frost around here (mild bay winters, gracias!) but my pond had a sheet of ice on it back in December, so....clearly all hell is breaking loose.

In addition to direct-sowing, which I would normally do in early March, I've decided to start some seeds indoors.  Wish me luck!  Tommy gets these milk cartons at school lunch time, and he told me that he came up with 'thirty-four uses for these'.  He presented them in commercial style, almost like he was doing a home-shopping-network sales pitch.  Too funny!  I used to do a really good impersonation of a QVC pitch-woman, but I've not watched any in so long, I wouldn't know where to begin.  Tommy's didn't include a Southern accent, which was central to mine, but I was impressed all the same.  Use number 14 was to plant seeds.  So, here we go.

I'm kind of glad not to be direct-sowing just yet, because it will give me time to figure out what's happening here.  I cardboard mulched the areas between the raised beds, but this is what met me this weekend.  Hmmm...At first I thought maybe moles or gophers were coming up from the ground and wreaking havoc.

 (My previous neighbor...actually, two neighbors ago in that house...once came to my door and said, "Hey, you know a lot about animals...can you come take a look at this?"  He speculated that "this" might be a guinea pig.  Before I even got to his yard, I had to gently explain that guinea pigs aren't generally found in the wild in this area, and that the chances that a domesticated guinea pig had escaped and then survived in his yard was also highly unlikely.  It was a mole.  He was from Iceland.  It's the only explanation that makes sense.)

So, anyways, point is, the more I looked at this mess, the more I started thinking....it kind of looks more like deer were tromping around.  We have a lot of deer in our area, and our yard is mostly "open" at the top of the hill between both neighbors on the sides, and with nothing more than a barbed wire fence to the open park land behind us.  I often find deer scouting the front and back yards.  In the beds area, there are still rosemary, flat-leafed parsley, marjoram, and sage growing.  So maybe they were poking around?  They don't seem to be bugging the artichokes, so I could totally be wrong, and even if they were hoping for food in in the kitchen garden, they don't like strong-smelling-food, so they wouldn't find anything to their liking.  But, still, I wonder if they're 'shopping'.

So, that's that.  I just wanted to apologize for abusing our friend the comma.  It's a tick to my writing; and I'm sincerely sorry!


  1. One thing I learned while living up in Washington State (Tulip and dafodil country!) is that the deer LOVE bulbs. Maybe they are scouting out your bulbs???

  2. Don't worry about drama queen artichokes. After they have had this good winter to get established, they should be able to take some summer abuse without all the wilting. If you need some more, just let me know! Mine just keep having babies!

  3. Tra ~ That's interesting! It's definitely in the bulb-ish area. Man. Deer are so cute! Why are they so pesky?!?

    Kelly ~ I'm not surprised that yours are thriving! They seem love the coastal weather. I will totally take the artichokes you don't want...wouldn't a whole crop just be wonderful on that side of the hill? :)