Well, Harper Lee must’ve never been a gardener, that’s all I can say. Because if she had been, she would’ve been like, ‘f— you, mockingbird!’
I was all set to have a great blackberry harvest–there were handfuls of berries just outside my front door (literally! the vine has a foothold in the door frame, and I could’ve picked berries without ever stepping foot off the welcome mat) but then…as they were juuust on the verge of ripe, somebody started eating them, leaving juicy purpled splotches on the siding and porch floor. I wasn’t quite sure who until one day I saw a mockingbird perched on a porch chair, his head cocked, giving the blackberries a sidelong staredown. And then, swooop, he flitted over to the vine and started pecking.
And so, this:
Except that didn’t quite work either; the bird, in his persistence, was still finding a way to peck at the berries and get them to somehow fall out of the mesh, and so I had to resort to a 10′ length of deer netting draped over the entire vine, which finally stopped the blackberry thief.
I think I always say this, but I can’t believe spring has gone by so quickly. It always does, in a rush of seeding and transplanting, weeding and watering and re-seeding and then, the patiently trying to wait: for ripe tomatoes, for peaches, for cucumbers, for squash, for, in general, what is supposed to be the bounty of summer.
At this point in the season (for indeed, at this point we can actually call it a season), I feel as though I should be able to kick back; aside from a few stray weeds to pull and occasional watering during a dry spell, I feel like the garden should be able to take care of itself. Instead, there are still beds that are overcome by weeds, and rows that need reseeding because (ahem!) I forgot to water them and they died.
I harvested the first (very few) of the potatoes; I decided I ought to do it soon after the plants died back so that 1)I wouldn’t forget where they were; and 2)I could have that space for growing other, summery things, like tomatillos.
Andy has a potato joke that I will now share: A widow is standing in the grocery store holding two small potatoes in her hand and staring at them. She is looking kind of sad and weepy, and another lady comes over to her and asks if everything’s alright. The widow holds up the two potatoes and says, “These remind me of my late husband.” The other lady says, “What, the size?” and the widow says, “No, the dirt!”
Anyway, it’s supposed to be a joke about testicles, but I’m not quite sure I think it’s funny. Moving on!
The cherry and currant tomatoes are just starting their onslaught; the slicers have yet to ripen (although, in the doctor’s office the other day, I overheard an old woman describing in intimate, juicy detail the tomato sandwich she had had for lunch; and how there was so much left over that she was going to have the rest for dinner. Which means two things: that someone, somewhere has faster-ripening tomatoes than I; and that, old people still do not understand cell phone etiquette. I can’t decide which has been the bigger blow: tomato sandwich lust, or the one to my gardener’s ego.
At any rate, at least my plants are in the warm ground. Last year I was sooo late getting them in; this year I’m pretty sure I was mostly on time with both the seedlings and direct seeding beans and squash.
However, a word on the squash: just last week, when the first tender zucchini was about to ripen, when it was looking on the vine the way that travel-guide brochure photos look of vegetables at roadside stands in Italy; I found a horrible thing: the squash vine borers. Of course, right on time to ruin the harvest.
I’ve been trying to keep them at bay by squishing eggs and scraping out larvae with a straightened paper clip. So far the tally is: 1 zucchini plant dead; 13+ squash vine borer larvae dead; 0 squash harvested. So now you know where the record stands. And you can imagine my frustration when, on the radio, Garrison Keillor extols how prolifically the squash grow in Lake Wobegon; how they have to keep their cars locked and windows closed for fear of people unloading their excess, mutant zucchinis through a cracked window. Sure, I could be bitter about this; but I also remind myself that I don’t have to live through a Minnesota winter; so if that is the tradeoff, I’ll take squash vine borers any day.
Lately I’ve been glad that I’m not the type of woman who gets manicures. Because this has been the state of my nails:
One of my coworkers once told me that the best way to get rid of dirt from under your fingernails was to take a shower and wash your hair; that the shampooing and scrubbing the scalp would scrub all the dirt out from the nailbeds; and I have to say: she was right. Not that I get manicures, or that I care about the state of my nails. I’m just saying, that this is how they are.
About a month (or was it two?) ago I harvested garlic scapes and whizzed them all into a pesto; two weeks after that I harvested all the garlic, and boy, it was a mighty haul:I nearly filled a whole muck bucket (that’s almost 2 bushels, for you non-muck-bucket-owners) with garlic bulbs, some of which were as big as onions. Now I’m just trying to talk myself into cleaning all the dirt off and finding a good place to store them in the house–a place that is not a muck-bucket, that is.
I’ve been picking wild blueberries in the woods; it’s time consuming because the berries are so small and sparsely spaced, and yeah, if we were going to put a dollar value on my time, it would probably be cheaper to buy them at Costco. But! Where else can you immerse yourself in the meditative act of berry-picking, and be alone in the forest with only your thoughts and the occasional birdsong? Instead, I can say I’m forest bathing (turns out that is a thing), and getting some ‘me’ time and free berries in the process. I think that I may have also gotten bit by chiggers while I was out there, which I guess makes this into a win-win-lose type of situation.At any rate, the chigger bites have faded, but we are still enjoying the wild blueberries in our smoothies. So maybe I will just pretend I got those chigger bites somewhere else.
Happy gardening, friends!