22 April 2010

ooopsies in the garden

Thank you for the lovely recent comments on the progress of our first veggie garden at this new house! I'm totally enthralled with the daily progress. I promise you I always kiss and hug the baby and husband upon arriving home from work days, but it's never long before I tip-toe outside to see what's doing. There's so much to learn--like oh! So THAT'S how baby fennel bulbs form. Or, woops, that's what happens when you wait to thin the carrot beds. Oh. 


But, as I said earlier, there's always something positive to behold out there. Nature just keeps doing her thing (Happy Earth Day!). Tonight, I moseyed outside to pick some kale for pizza (what else) and noticed that amid all the pretty white pea flowers, there were the first little teensy pods starting to poke out, making plans to fatten up with smooth little green jewels inside.

But, oh, I assure you things are never all perfect. In the last few days, a couple of little gardening thorns have found their way to my side. Perhaps a little venting is in order? OK, here's my dirt list:


1. Dang, I started too early!
Right inside our back garden door is a wooden table covered with a green tangle of my summer crops: cherry, pear and violet tomatoes, green and purple tomatillos, two types of basil, hot Thai peppers, etc etc. For eight weeks or so, they've all been snug as bugs on a heating mat, under two sets of grow lights (two different heights). But, some of the most vigorous tomatoes (ok, nearly all of them) are going absolutely nuts, and are threatening to blow the lid off the tallest setting of the lights. The tomatillos started flowering, for pete's sake. Oops.


They NEED to go outside, get in some dirt, and really get their grow on. But, crap, it's been chilly lately. I could blame everything on some recent cold nights, but really I think I just started the seeds way too soon. (I was excited!) Now that the grow lights are at their tallest setting--and the tomatoes have started to grow around the bulbs (gulp)--I think I'm going to bite the bullet and start hardening them off (acclimating them to outside) this weekend, as we're supposed to have nice weather. If the temp dips again, I guess I'm committing to blanketing my plant babies before each cold night. Argh.


2. Woops, that's not lavender.
So, some heartier plants that I started indoors have already made their way outdoors and into pots and open beds. I moved some pretty marigolds out, some thyme, sage... and some Munstead Lavender, which is supposed to be an outstanding English variety. I love me some lavender people. Only problem is that the five cute little seedlings that I've been tending for eight weeks and recently potted up into pretty matte brown pottery... yeah, not lavender. Tonight, I got a letter from Renee's Garden Seeds, the extremely excellent local seed company that I try to buy most of my seeds from, saying that yeah... it's not lavender that you planted. It's heliotrope. Um, whaa? They somehow shipped the wrong seeds. They're really sorry.*

First of all, it's ridiculous that I didn't quite figure this out yet. Yeah, the leaves didn't look too lavender-y... Like many new gardeners, I blamed myself: obviously I just didn't know what young lavender plants look like. The crinkly dark green leaves would someday soon morph into silvery, scented foliage. Ha. It doesn't work like that.

OK, now what do I do? I checked the RGS website and heliotrope--heretofore unknown to me--is a (somewhat stuffy-looking--sorry) Victorian flower used in nosegays. You know, something so sweetly scented it could be carried around to mask unpleasant odors of the time. Hmm, I do like fragrant blooms. But, a heliotrope is so not what I was after. Toby says to just chuck 'em... hoo boy, that would be the day. I can't throw away anything useful, beautiful or potentially interesting. Perhaps I'll compost a few of them. I only have so many pots. Oh, dilemmas. Well, at least I know I'll be starting new lavender seeds this weekend: the letter from Renee Shepherd was  accompanied by the real lavender seeds, plus some bonus, fancy French Cosmos. (Oooh, pretty. Should I grow those, too? I'm pathetic.) 

So, how about you? What's on your Spring dirt list? I can't be the only one :)


* Despite this seed mix-up, I must point out that I love Renee's Garden Seeds. If you've grown from them, you know. Their seed packets are ridiculously informational, they sell interesting varieties, and they're very responsive to questions or problems. Of course, I had no idea that I was having a problem with my pseudo-lavender, but no matter. I'm sure I'd have figured it out someday. ...Anyway, I'm really hoping to mention this Bay Area company again this year: my mother-in-law recently sat next to Renee Shepherd at a professional function, where after some chatting, my MIL was offered a tour of the RGS growing operation in nearby Felton, CA. A few months ago, I was invited on this future tour as a Christmas gift--I was speechless. The best gift. Don't worry, I'll take pictures and share!


  1. Hello :) Glad I stumbled across your blog, I'm really enojoying it!
    I'm only in my second year as a veggie grower, and last year i did EXACTLY the same thing and started everytthing too early - my beans were all flowering in the house, but they were fine when they went outside, no harm done!!
    Be thankful about your plants doing so well :) I've planted 22 different varieties of tomato (I've become a tomato nut I know...) on the windowsill, but they're not getting enough light and they're all incredibly leggy, weak little things... it's breaking my heart!!
    Go for it and plant all the flower seeds :P you'll find the space somewhere! I started off just loving the veggie growing and could never understand the whole thing with growing flowers - but I now have a least as many flower seeds as I do veggie seeds. The obsession just doesn't stop once it hits lol!!

    Anyway, really great to see somebody enjoying themselves in the garden!

  2. Throw out plants!!! Quelle horreur! :)

    My garden is going nuts right now. I'm SO excited for all of the harvesting that will be happening. I'm probably not going to plant anything else for now. Before I know it, we'll be in the throes of summer where I'll just keep the herbs and peppers going.

    I've got to do a post about all of this. Love these posts of yours!


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