Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The 10 Commandments of Gardening

Talking with David today, I was thinking about creating a "10 Commandments of Gardening" list. Here's what I have so far:

The 10 Commandments of Gardening
  1. Thou shalt have no other interests before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make for thyself a genetically modified organism, but shalt allow nature to take its course.
  3. Thou shalt not curse Mother Nature, for she is fickle and will show no mercy to those who misuseth her name.
  4. For six days thou shalt labour in the garden. But the seventh day is a sabbatical from weeding, planting, and harvesting. Thou shalt need the seventh day to cook, can, and otherwise preserve the food gathered.
  5. Honor thy Father Sky and thy Mother Earth, so that thy garden days will be long and fruitful.
  6. Thou shalt not kill beneficial bugs.
  7. Thou shalt not water at high noon.
  8. Thou shalt not steal food from thy neighbor's garden, but shall asketh kindly, offereth to trade, or purchaseth foods from local farmer's markets.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness about the bounty thy garden produces.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s garden, or gardening tools, or wheelbarrow, or any gardening thing that belongeth to your neighbour. you have any commandments to add?

Monday, June 16, 2008

100+ Babies Born on My Porch

Mantis babies, that is.

Every day, as I go in and out of the house, I take a look at the praying mantis egg casing that Michelle generously donated to my garden cause. I elevated the casing by attaching it to a highly technical tool (read: stick) and propped it up in this state-of-the-art incubator, shown at right (read: a plastic drinking cup amid zuke and cuke seedlings beneath a grow lamp).

Last year, the mantis egg casing Michelle had supplied me with didn't hatch at all. This year, we had storms coming in, so I was waiting until the storms had passed to put the egg casing out.

I waited too long.

As I was headed out the door to work, I performed my glance-to-the-left-to-verify-that-mantises-haven't-hatched-yet move...and did a double take. Mantises were afoot in my enclosed porch, roaming around in the incubator! (If you look closely at the picture, you'll see the egg shell remains sort of hanging out of the side of the casing.)

Wow, I thought, maybe they are just starting to hatch and I caught them in time to put them out in the garden.

At left are just a FEW of the 100+ mantises that hatched, crawling around my cucumber seedlings (which are long overdue for garden planting). Mantises are currently walking my walls, ceiling, and windows, entering the house through cracks. They seem quite happy swaying their buggy-eyed little heads back and forth, watching me as I try to capture a decent shot of them on David's camera (which he loaned to me since my camera shot craps). Of course, I haven't quite figured the camera out, so parts of the picture are blurry and I can't get the macro and super-macro function to work right, so this is the best shot of the colony I could get.

Unfortunately, we don't have many bugs on our porch, so I have to capture all these guys and set them free in the garden so they don't die prematurely. Using my very expensive, state-of-the-art mantis capturing device (read: a torn piece off a Target prescription bag and plastic drinking cup), I scooped mantises up, gently knocking them from the leaves, and deposited them among the bean, pea, and tomato plants in my garden.

So, now you have the story of the babies. I am no longer just a mantis midwife; I am a MANTIS MOMMA!

Aren't my babies cute?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My First Harvest: Ravishing Radishes

I should have blogged about these beauties six days ago when I harvested them, but I've been running about like that proverbial headless chicken, attending my boyfriend's (David) music gig and teaching summer classes.

These two radishes [at left, a red radish; at right, plum purple] were added to a mixture of spinach, romaine and red-leaf lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, and crumbled green onion white cheddar cheese, all obtained from the Bloomington farmer's market that weekend. All, might I add, pesticide- and herbicide-free. It was a VERY tasty salad!

I vaguely remember the radishes we grew in our garden at home when we were younger. They seemed mild--or maybe I am remembering only the store-bought versions I've eaten in the past. These puppies packed a wallop, and it is only early June! The red radish was sweet and spicy, and the plum purple radish was also sweet, with much more bite. I recommend a lot of ranch-like dressing to cool the tastebuds. I harvested 3 more a couple of days later, and it's time to harvest again.

Meanwhile, at right is a picture of David holding out my first green beans of the year, still on the plant!

What? You say you can't see anything? Nothing but a black box? That's because MY FLIPPIN' CAMERA ISN'T WORKING! I have all kinds of garden pictures to take, and for some reason, all I get is a ridiculous black screen in the view finder! I can view the pictures I took before today. I clearly have battery function. But to take no pictures--no.

So, I'm clearing out my photos, I'll change the batteries, and see if that solves the problem. If that doesn't work, I'll have to see if I can find the instructions (can any of you ever find your instruction booklets when you need them? I can't!) to see if I just need to push a simple button or something.

Please...I need my camera to work! I have beans! Beans that are not only GROWING, one of which looks EDIBLE at this point, but beans that grew and that look edible despite the ravenous Mexican bean beetles that I have been fighting!

[Heavy sigh.]

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Have Peas!

I have peas! The Amish Snap Pea blossoms are now home to pods! This set of plants actually had four very small pods that I could find. I can't wait for them to grow and plump up so I can taste the first pea I have ever grown!

Meanwhile, it is taking the Green Arrow peas a lot more time. They don't have blossoms yet, but I am expecting them to bloom sometime soon.