Green Thumb. Heavy Hand.

Friday, June 4, 2010

-These are all of my golden raspberries. Hopeful and kind of sad all at once.-

The garden is slowly coming along and showing signs of life and success. Somehow BF, Roommate, and I have successfully grown things. I have, with help, broken the black thumb curse that has hung around me like some dark, anti-Gaia fog.

The strawberries are obese with juice and the flavor is so rich it could buy a yacht (or more strawberries?). The Early Girl tomatoes are beginning to grow with vigor and rush. Paper lanterns adorn my tomatillo plants like some sort of Chinese New Year in green, celebrating the arrival of Spring. The sugar peas, though planted late, were abundant and plenty making for many tasty snacks and stir-fries. Now that they're done we've turned the vines into salads.

-Corn. And as you can see both the boy and girl parts are growing nicely. This means much corn for Garrett (and maybe BF and Roommate).-

Oh, yes, my golden raspberries are coming along as well as a first year berry plant can (three whole berries!). Yet, they are nothing compared to my blackberries and mint (chocolate and spearmint) who are quickly taking over their sectioned corner of the garden. I did plant them in the ground and expected as much. Why, you may ask, would I plant so many invasive plants? One word: rental. I only plan to be here a few years and then it's not my problem. (My god, I'm a green thumb apartment terrorist. And an ass. But, the way I see it, someone will be lucky to move into my apartment and find plenty of berries and mint for berry mojitos.)

-I love the festive look of tomatillos.-

The many basil plants, chili peppers, parsleys, and other herbs are prolific. The dwarf citrus are fine and dandy (though something is up with that yuzu and its curly leaves). Yes, success abounds here. I am garden man, hear me plant my corn!

However, part of bringing about life is bringing about death. In fact, the bounty of gardening seems to stem from death. Do you know how many aphids - red, black, and green - I have squished with my hands? My fingertips are stained red every morning with the blood of my enemies. The insectoid invading forces are backed up with colonies of ants who seem to be smart enough to avoid my poison traps and, I swear, I heard one of them say something homophobic.

Yes, I did buy a bunch of ladybugs. Yes, I released them out at night. And yes, after five days they all flew away leaving behind all the aphids. I bought their freedom from the gardening store and they ran. I wanted indentured servitude, damn it. I am not the underground railroad for entrapped ladybugs.

-Swollen strawberries.-

The snails and slugs are a whole other thing. I tried every organic method I could think of. I set out copper traps, eggshells, even little trays of beer which peeved me off because it felt like I was buying the damn slimeballs a drink. At one point I was even going out at night with a flashlight, picking them up, placing them on a flat rock and crushing them with a hand trowel in a sacrificial manner offering their tiny icky bodies to the gods of gardening.

Life and death here in this humble apartment garden. It's a balance. Green thumb with a heavy hand.

-Soon to be blackberries. This breed is apartment perfect. It only grows vertical, not outwards, has no thorns, and is immune to insects.-


  1. Perhaps you can tell us what kind of blackberry that is? It sounds just about perfect...

  2. Coming along quite nicely! I'm super stoked that the 2 plants I've been able to start are full-fledged seedlings and happy to finally be outside.

    Any cheap ideers for propping up my cherry tomatoes? They're too tall to stand on their own now, but I can't afford those metal tomato thingies. (Don't you just love my official gardening terminology?)

  3. I have to say that you need to beat your corn with a stick. That fence is preventing the wind from pollinating it. Did I tell you my master's at UCD was in horticulture and agronomy? ;)
    I'm so pround of your garden! It looks great! Isn't Nor-Cal wonderful?
    I, too used to go slug hunting at night. But I'd bring a salt shaker with me and kill 'em on the spot. Kinda sad. The only idea I have for slug control is to plant marigolds near the plants you want to save. The slugs prefer the marigolds and will leave your other plants alone.
    And yes, ladybugs fly away this time of year. I feel like they should have a sign on the ladybugs at the garden store that warns you about that!

  4. I think spraying with a bottle filled with water and a tablespoon or so of ordinary dish soap should get rid of your aphids. Make sure you spray the underside of the leaves where they hide (and the stems and...). Soapy water will also kill caterpillars (I use it on Tent Caterpillars here) but avoid using it if you have other insects that you'd like to save (ie. Monarch caterpillars)

    Kimberly - any stick, rod, piece of bamboo etc. can be used to stake tomato plants. I'm fairly sure you can get Bamboo stakes (4' long) cheaply. Stake on more than one side if they seem flimsy. Use something soft to tie them like old pantyhose or rag strips; string might cut the stems.

  5. I really hope you planted more than 4 corn plants. You know they only set one, and maybe 2, ears of corn per plant, right?

    Your tomatillos look very far along! When did you plant them? I sadly, am skipping both tomatillos and tomatoes this year. Spring was too cool for too long.

    It'll be a rockin' fall garden, though!

  6. Adrienne: Not sure the name. Sorry. =(

    Kimberly: Bamboo stakes.

    Dessert: Already in the plans. =)

    Hank: Only the five. It's all we had room for. As for the tomatillos, yeah they're all exploding with lanterns. We put them in at the beginning of May.

    Carly: Will give the soapy water idea a try. I'll do anything to make these damn aphids go.

  7. Sluggo was reccommended to me as an organic slug control. It works, but doesn't wipe them off the face of the earth, sadly.

    Good luck.

  8. Your garden is looking great! I've been thinking about planting some kind of berry bushes at the back of my garden, along the fence. No advice on the snails, but I have had good luck using soapy water sprayed on the plants for aphids (just a few drops of dish soap in a sprayer of water.) Happy gardening!

    For Kimberly, you can buy a dowel (wooden stick) at the hardware store, then attach the tomato plants with twist-ties. Should cost less than $1.

  9. A former boyfriend's mother used to spray her roses with Lysol to get rid of the aphids eating her plants. It seemed to work, as she had beautiful plump rosebushes with lots of blossoms, but I don't know about spraying vegetables with it...

  10. Lovely pictures, and what a great idea to grow your own berry mojito ingredients! I bet Garden Gazpacho or Backyard Salsa will be on your menu too!

    Have you tried Safer Brand spray I've successfully used it on my backyard pests. It's essentially like using really strong soap spray.

  11. Looks great! The tomatilloes are very prolific. I planted just two last year, and was buried in an avalanche of tomatilloes. Lots of salsa verde. I actually got sick of salsa verde, so tried to make my mother-in-law's (South Indian) green tomato pickle using tomatilloes. It worked pretty well. At least it was a break from the salsa verde! They are beautiful, unusual looking plants.

  12. I've seen your blog mentioned in passing and on many a blogroll and somehow it's taken me this long to have a look. Woe! The wasted days! I mean "obese with juice" is reason enough to have formed a major new blog crush ^^;

  13. Your tomatillos look wonderful. I planted some for the first time this year and the leaves are starting to turn yellow. No aphids, no bugs, just yellow.

    Thought and thought about corn but it didn't happen this year.

    And mint, I think I'm the only person on earth that can't grow the stuff. Each of the last 3 yrs, these small, green worms eat it up. The soapy water spray didn't work.


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