Monday, July 9, 2012

Lessons & Surprises. . .

I really need to get the fence up.  I've been lucky to this point, but a tour of the garden Friday morning revealed the first signs of deer damage.  They'll only nibble on the outer-most plants because of the plastic, and they seem to stick to the "big" tomato plants instead of the cherries and grapes; however, they can still do damage.  The one that got my Brandywine plant took scraping nibbles out of several of the fruits along with topping the plant.  

Tomato Hornworm
I've also found four tomato hornworms so far.  They were all very big--bigger than I've ever seen--and had done extensive damage before I found them.  Unfortunately, this is usually the case since the worms are camouflaged so well and hang on the underside of stems and leaves.  Later, I'll get some better pictures and write an informational post all about these pests.
Hornworm Damage
Notice the stripped stems on the top half.

What's left of my peas

I found out that peas should be planted while the weather is still cold.  Like March-cold.  The plants are very tender and sensitive to the heat.  My pea plants give testimonial to the fact that, if planted too late, they will not survive the summer heat.  Apparently the pea harvest was ending as my plants were pushing through the surface.  While I am upset and dishearten by this loss, I did learn a valuable lesson:  plant the peas when I plant the onions early next spring.

On a more positive note, some of my gourds surprised me.  The first was the large Martins planted in the garden.  I planted five, which was half of my seed pack.  When they started growing, I had three.  I was happy with that.  I don't expect every seed pushed into the soil to sprout and be productive, and if last year's harvest is any indication, these gourds promise to be big.  I also have Tobacco Box gourds, which should be a good size, too.  So I was happy with three large Martins.  But then, while my three plants were growing longer stems and bigger leaves,  another one popped up!  The last one is much smaller than the rest, but I'm happy to have four.
Youngest Large Martin Gourd

The best surprise I've gotten, though is a big one--figuratively speaking.  Let me start by explaining that I planted seeds from two carved gourds.  This may not seem like a big deal, but Meadowbrooke Gourds seemed pretty adamant that seed from these gourds would not grow.  I gave it a shot anyway because the two gourds I collected seeds from are cute little things, and one holds a special place in my heart.  The first one was sent to me as a spring promotion, and is a small Martin with a tulip carved into it.  I designed the face carved on the second little one to look like Bug when he was just a pip-squeak with three teeth.  (It was Fall open house at Meadowbrooke.)

To date none of the seeds planted from the tulip have sprouted.  I only got two seeds from what I affectionately call the "Bug gourd."  I planted them both in a large pot by the deck.  Even after the germination time had passed, I watered the soil in the pot and pulled the weedy grasses that were sprouting.  I didn't think they would grow after what Meadowbrooke had said and the fact that the tulip gourd seeds were doing nothing.  

But one day, there it was.  A small little gourd plant had sprouted over a one or two day time.  Surprise and elation flooded me.  This was the one, very special gourd that I had so wanted to grow, and here it was! 
Bug Gourd

The Bug gourd & its "baby."

The little plant is thriving and loving the heat wave we've been having here in the mid-atlantic.

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