October Garden Tour

After nearly two and a half months of dirt, sweat, grime, and more dirt, the garden is finally finished.  Or as finished as a garden ever gets, what with weeding, flooding vole holes, and obsessive transplanting.  Perhaps the only “finished” aspect is that every square foot of dirt has been painstakingly ridden of grassroots at least once, and in some cases twice.  To be honest, now that the last garden bed is planted, I’m not sure what to do with myself.

In celebration of this gardengantuan achievement, I thought I would take you on another tour of the garden.  A surprising amount has changed since the tour in September, including an infestation of fava bean plants (turns out they need more than 6 inches of space between them), a banishment of winter squash plants from the garden walkways, and a basil plague.  In fact, nearly half the garden beds have been replanted in the last month, as I slowly learn where various plants should not be planted.  Despite the shortening of the day and hence my after-work garden time, October has been an exciting month in a California garden.

The fava bean plants have been flowering like crazy and and there are very tiny fava bean pods.  I'm actually a little worried about just how many fava beans this one plant is going to produce.  And then I think about the fact that I have 20 of them and my heart starts palpitating.  If you are reading this and see me on a regular basis and also happen to like fava beans, you should probably start dropping hints in polite conversation about how much you would love to find a mystery basket of fava beans on your doorstep.  Just in case, you know?

New bed of beets on the right. Not to be confused with the brilliantly red swiss chard on the left.  After weeks of eying them like a hungry tiger, we finally ate our first beets.  I was amused that the first candy-cane striped beet I picked was only white inside.  Actually I felt a little duped, and have been afraid to cut into another candy-cane variety beet in case the whole seed batch is messed up for some reason.  Or even worse, in case I'm doing something wrong that keeps my beets pasty.

Bush beans on the left and pak choy on the right (that little patch of sad-looking greens that have been nibbled on by an unknown creature).  That's right, despite the seemingly endless supply of greens, I planted one more variety: pak choy.  You could say I have a greens problem, but maybe it's closer to the truth to say I just have to plant at least a row from every seed packet my mom so graciously sends me.  For science.  I don't really mind.  I recently found out that many of my friends don't mind being imposed upon to adopt a bunch of greens when I see them in the garden.  When said friends start avoiding me, or blatantly running away, I may be tempted to stop planting greens.

I'm still in shock that the summer squash plant survived.  It looked so sad and uninterested in life for the longest time.  Especially when compared to the cucumber plants next to it that decided to take uppers a few weeks ago and produce quite a few cucumbers that were delightfully sweet and actually eaten willingly by Peter.  Now the cucumber plants are the ones that look depressed and the summer squash is only finally making baby squashes.  Hint: the summer squash plant is the one with all the happy big yellow flowers on it.  Happy with life indeed!

Witness the only flowers I have managed to grow from seed.  The plants to the left of the flowers are pole beans (green bean plants that grow up, the best friend of a space-deprived gardener), and to the right we have yet another kale patch.

Rows and rows of kale.  This is by far the most popular green with my friends.  Some of them eat kale raw in salad, others make raw kale and fruit smoothies.  I do neither.  Don't get me wrong, I am very fond of kale, but I prefer it limp and heavily salted, drenched in garlic and oil.  If you look very carefully in the bottom left-hand corner you can see some cilantro desperately trying to survive.  With the basil gone, we have transitioned from Italian to Mexican-inspired cuisine.  That's right, apparently cilantro doesn't mold.  At least not in that creepy way where you can't tell without peeking under the basil's skirt (eww, what if there's a spider hiding under there).  Cilantro also has the added bonus of smelling very strongly like cilantro every time it's watered.

My pet vole catcher, taking a well-deserved break.


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