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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Garden I Didn't Plant

Wall at the Hotel Laguna

Let me start by saying I really meant well.  I was going to . . . .  Seems like I have a lot of things that start that way lately!  Well, as I was saying, I was going to finish the planters in the back for my raised garden this year, but . . . well, . . . so many things to do and not enough time for all my little projects . . . the bottom line is, I didn't get the planters done.  But, that didn't seem to stop my garden from growing anyway!

I have two gi-normous yellow pear tomato plants that are producing enough for me and 5 or 6 of my neighbors.  I have received notice from the authorities that I may have to register them as independent countries, they are taking up so much space.  :-)  I am now in the process of drying some of the tomatoes in my dehydrator to try to keep up with all of them.  Another battle I am losing.  They were volunteers that just kept popping up, I kept pulling them up, but finally I surrendered that battle and let a couple of them go.  My tomatoes always seem to get away from me and end up sprawling all over like they own the place.  There always seems to be a time where it goes from a nice plant to a monster plant over night.  Next time, I WILL not allow them to get out of control.  Next year, I am going to get the planters ready and get a real garden in and put a couple of pyramids in there to support and corral my tomatoes.  They will NOT take over my yard again!  :-)  Hee hee hee, famous last words . . . 

Anyway, I also ended up with about 3 or 4 basil plants that are now finishing up their blooming and are starting to go to seed and are making the birds and the bees around here very happy!  There are several . . . I believe they are finches . . . flocking around them, taking flight every time I step around the corner back there.  And I am very happy to see all the bees busily collecting all the nectar.  I think there must be 3 or 4 different types of bees back there all humming away!  Now, if they would just take away all the hundreds of baby basil plants that are trying to come up!  That's how these came into being.  I just got tired of trying to pull up all the plants coming up from the seeds from the plant I took out last year.  I let a few go ahead and grow!  But, now I sure have a lot of work to do in this garden I didn't plant!

There are also 2 or 3 poblano pepper plants in there.  More volunteers!  At least these didn't wear me out trying to pull up thousands of renegades!  They just happened to pop up at a time I was worn out pulling up all the others!  I harvested some of them last week and was going to make some chile rellenos.  I got as far as broiling them and peeling the skins, but then there they sat in the fridge, wasting away!  I had forgotten to pick up some of the necessary ingredients to make them, so I thought I would put them in the fridge until the next day when I could pick up a few things at the market on my way home from work.  That was a busy week, so I never got to the market, and therefore never got around to stuffing and finishing them!  :-(  I have actually never gotten around to trying my poblanos!  In the past they always ripened at a bad time for me to try to use them, so I ended up giving them all away!  Maybe next time I'll actually get around to eating them!  I got closer this time than I ever have before!  

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed my dragon fruit cactus had a little bump on the end of one of it's arms.  I wasn't sure if it was the start of a little bloom or not, but the next weekend I could see there definitely was a baby bloom popping into existence!  The second week, it was the size of a large pea!  Yay! 

The third week, it was a little larger than a shooter marble.  (If you're under 30, or maybe even 40, you may not even know what that is!  I don't think kids play with marbles any more!)  

This week it is about 3 or 4 inches long.  I didn't think it would bloom this year, because I had to move the plant last year and ended up breaking off some of the long arms in the process.  Since you need mature arms to produce fruit, I wasn't expecting anything this year!  But, it would appear that I was wrong!

These are amazing plants.  A friend gave this one to me a couple of years ago.  It takes a couple of years for it to get big enough to start producing fruit.  The flower blooms only one night and it is huge! ! !  It is white and about the size of a plate!  The stamens are yellow and there are about a million of them!  I was lucky that mine bloomed for me last year.  I was so excited the day the bud looked like it was ready to bloom.  I kept going outside every hour that evening to make sure I didn't miss it!  I didn't have a tripod, so my pictures of it are not very good.  Maybe this time I'll be able to get pictures that I can share!  The middle looked so soft I couldn't resist sticking my finger in the middle of all those stamens.  I was surprised that a flower that large would not really have much of a scent!  At the end of the evening, it starts dying and eventually the fruit begins to form.  Last year, I got one fruit from it, but the ants got to it before I did!  I wasn't sure when to harvest it and while I waited, it cracked and the ants covered it trying to get at the sweet fruit inside!  It's flavor is kind of a cross between strawberry, pear and kiwi.  I think I will know when to pick it this year!  After all this, I don't want to end up feeding the ants again!

Lemons grown from a seed!
Meyer Lemons

The rest of my "crops" are tree fruits.  Those don't count as things I didn't plant!  Well, actually, the dragon fruit doesn't either!  My trees are all dwarf varieties and I have them in planters.  Lemon, Meyer lemon, lime, and orange trees.  The lemon tree is one I started from a seed I threw into a cup of water several years ago.  It sprouted, so I planted it and a tree began growing.  I was about to give up on it and give it away because I didn't think it would ever produce fruit, but one day I looked over and noticed a big yellow lemon on it!  I was completely astonished.  How I missed the flowers and the fruit growing I do not know!  It takes a long time to get from flower to ripe fruit and I hadn't noticed anything until that day!  It actually is the only tree I have that is not a dwarf variety and I am being very mean to it!  I have never repotted the poor thing.  It out grew it's little pot a few years ago and I am sure it must be root-bound by now and will be starting to die soon, but one of these days I will try to replant it anyway and hope for the best!  For a small tree, it has quite a bit of fruit on it!

Well, as long as I am talking about trees . . . I also have 5 plumerias.  Of course, these don't count as things I didn't plant this year either!  Hmmmmm . . .  seems I have managed to run a bit off course from the title of my post.  (Hopefully the title police won't notice.)  :-)  Now, what I am going to do with all these trees and a yard the size of a postage stamp I am not sure, but so far they are all small (ranging in size from approximately 4-6' tall) and in pots, so I am ok . . . for now.  I really like my plumerias.  They bloom forever.  I love picking a few blooms and putting them on my desk at work.  The white ones with the yellow centers are the most fragrant.  I went to a Hawaiian themed wedding last year and was able to make my own lei and bracelet for it.  The pinkish ones don't have much scent to them at all, but they are so pretty I really enjoy them!  

I didn't think the one with the pink flowers was going to make it.  A friend gave me a cutting from her tree and it took forever for it to put out leaves.  I started to notice little bumps at the end of the branches and I got hopeful they were little leaf buds.  After what seemed like an eternity, little leaves started to open up.  Yayyy!  And to my surprise, a little flower nodule also began to form.  I got flowers this first year! ! ! !   The trunk doesn't look all that great right now, so I am not sure if it will be around very long, but maybe it will surprise me again!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Well, getting back to the topic I started with, for a garden I didn't plant, I sure have a lot of work ahead of me to clean things up at the end of this season!  I was happy to have at least a few things from the garden to eat this year, but I would really like to get situated so that next year I can make sure to get a little more variety and a lot more control over this little tiny piece of land I call my garden!  

Until next time!  Happy gardening!