Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Everything But the Red Tomatoes

It's been late this year compared to past years, but the garden is in full production mode.  As with most years there have been triumphs....and also some big disasters.  Let's begin, shall we? 

I am starting with a triumph because it's really cute and also because it happened to be the first picture uploaded and I don't feel like rearranging. 

This is a little cactus plant that Justin dug up from a field when he was working in a warmer climate than here.   He and a few co-workers brought them home in gas station coffee cups, complete with their preferred red soil.  The flowering time on these is fleeting and for a few years it didn't flower at all.  I had to go back in the blog archive to find an old picture of its first summer with us.

Haha, oh man, it is the cutest thing...Look at how small it was with its one flower and it's little baby cactus next to it!  Now the baby has its own flowers and there is another baby on the side!  We keep intending to put it in a bigger pot.  Hopefully that won't traumatize it.  It probably won't.  This thing survives indoor winters with minimal sunlight and it also survived a journey in a cup to get here. 

Now, on to the biggest disaster of gardening I have seen in awhile...

No, those weren't picked up off the ground after rotting for days, and no they weren't burned in a fire.  Those are red bell peppers and I picked them off the plant like that.  Rotton on the plant.  Yuck.  Apparently, it could be bacterial blight, it could be blossom end rot, it could be inconsistent watering and moisture.  It is very disappointing.  At least the problem seems to only be affecting the colored peppers.  The green bells are looking robust, although I thought they were ripe so I picked several of them  and tried to eat one.  It ended with me spitting it in the sink because it was definitely NOT ripe.

The following is not exactly a disaster but it's not a success either.  That tall plant is a sunflower seed Ben brought  home from preschool this spring.  It was in the house for a few weeks and didn't sprout but we planted it outside anyway and it started to grow!  It amazes me how sunflowers follow the sun.  Even as a tiny little thing it would turn toward the sun in the morning and follow it all day.

I have been looking forward to the day we wake up and see a big yellow flower facing the sun but I am afraid that day may not come.  You may notice the yellow leaves on the lower part of the stem.  It has been losing leaves one by one starting from the bottom and there are brown spots working their way from leaf to leaf.  I'm sure this is some kind of disease or nutrient deficiency and there are probably agricultural chemicals and fertilizers that would save it if it were one of a field of thousands.  I thought I better take his picture while it is still with us and looking kind of healthy. 

The rest of the garden besides the peppers is productive.  This is one day's harvest of cucumbers after a weekend away.

This year it is cucumbers more than zucchini taking over the countertop and refrigerator shelves.  Like tomatoes, onions, and peppers, I am the only one who eats cucumbers.  I really need to visit my neighbors because I can't eat seven cucumbers in a week and that was just from one day!  I picked another one today and there were several more in the fridge already! 

Thee tomato plants are like trees.  The are as tall as I am and bursting out of their cages.  They have many tomatoes but they have been slow to ripen.  I finally picked a few last week and this week.  We picked some unique ones this year.  One plant is these...

They are called lemon drops or something like that. 

The biggest plant is a cherry tomato and I forgot what kind they were until this morning...

They are "chocolate" tomatoes!  When ripe they are a brownish-purple color.  They taste pretty good although not much different than red ones.  I'm kind of obsessed with their beautiful color.

I have been obsessing over the Olympics the last few days and I am fighting off feelings of resentment constantly because I can't really enjoy any of it without whining kids interrupting me.  They have no idea what is going on and they could care less that it is only on every four years.  They want to watch "Paw Patrol" or whatever brain numbing show they feel like and that's all there is to it. Yesterday I tried to watch in my room while sorting clothes from my overstuffed closet and after thirty seconds I heard them running down the hall to find me. At night I record prime time coverage but I don't get to settle down and watch it in peace until after 9:00 p.m. which causes me to stay up way too late.  Oh well, I guess.  It could be worse.  By 2020 they will be old enough to be interested.  The first Olympics I remember caring about was Lillehammer, Norway in 1992 when I was nine. Even though I feel Olympic deprived I am still finding many things to delight over so I think I will share one thing or a few in each post instead of a long one at the end because I probably will forget everything if I wait. 

Last night was the women's gymnastics team final and of course the U.S. won gold seeing as they have the "best gymnast on Planet Earth" on the team according to the commentators.  Those people can be a bit dramatic.  Between swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, diving and a few other sports I have watched (I highly recommend men's water polo for those fleeting minutes when the men are out of the water!  Aye Carumba!) I have noticed and enjoyed the exhuberant smiles and attitudes of team U.S.A.  It seems like the pressure has overcome some of their opponents and during gymnastics it was rare to see a smile from another team.  I know part of this is cultural and I am glad my culture still makes sports fun even during serious times like the Olympics!

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