Garden Diary: Prettying Things Up

grocery bagsWednesday, after two days of cold temperatures (the thermometer dipped to freezing overnight), we moved the plants we’d brought inside to protect them. At the same time, in an attempt to “prettify” our hanging tomato planter, I found an old, plain, neutrally-colored pillowcase and covered up all that unattractive “Kroger” writing. It was busy, and really stood out against the building walls (unlike these bags, it wasn’t really a pretty sight) and I was worried either the management or some of our neighbors would complain it was an eyesore, no matter how interesting an idea it is.

While I was watering all the plants, some Chick-Fil-A businessmen (presumably managers from the look of it) came to visit my neighbor, and one proceeded to compliment me on our garden. Beaming, I explained what I was growing, waxing a little rhapsodic. What can I say, I’m pretty proud of our progress so far! If and when we can get a digital camera (something I practically promised my mom we would do by the end of the week), I’ll be going a little nuts taking pictures.

What’s growing

Almost everything is doing really well. The marigolds are now about an inch tall, the radishes are taking hold nicely, some now having three sets of leaves. The green and yellow peppers, as well as the jalapeno, have put on a few more inches. The lettuce and the mustard seem to have gone a little dormant, probably deciding the temperatures aren’t yet suggesting “spring”. The herbs are all doing beautifully, especially the green onions which are almost all developing flower buds.

Speaking of flower buds, the tomato now has 5 flowers blooming, which will later turn into tomatoes (if all goes well, that is — this is an experiment!).

The big surprise, however, is the garlic. Their stalks are now nearly as tall as my hand is long, a length of about 5 inches, and seven of the shallots (planted in the same pot) are peeking from the dirt. No, actually, they’re doing better than that, their stalks are all above ground by about half an inch or so. YAY!

Today I’ll have to thin the tomatillos to one per pot so that they may thrive some more. That’s going to hurt a bit (I hate to stunt anything’s growth), but it’s necessary to have truly successful plant.

What’s struggling

Banana PeppersUnfortunately, the banana pepper is having a hard time. I suspect it’s the one pepper that really needs warmer weather. Two nights ago, I noticed the top of the main stem was withering badly, with a ring of dryness (for lack of a better word) that suggested the top wasn’t going to make it. In an effort to save the whole plant, I therefore pinched that part off.

Last night, when I came home from work, Rip pointed out that it seems to be doing better: the previously withered leaves have perked up a bit, and some side shoots are showing up. Perhaps it will make it after all!

SURPRISE!

tater growthSomething I should have mentioned at the beginning of the week: right smack in the middle of the mustard seed pot (really an old 15 gallon plastic tote), we realized the one “strange” leaf we had been seeing is actually a left-over potato! Last year we experimented with growing potatoes from some old ones we found at the back of our pantry. These were old enough to have grown “eyes”, and we decided to see if we could grow our own, in the same container in which we are now growing the mustard. The experiment was pretty successful, yielding a few potatoes we harvested at the “new” stage (meaning they were just two or three inches across when we pulled them.

This year, after recycling that dirt, we thought we had sorted out everything out, but it seems one potato still had something to give: it’s now growing amongst the mustard! I think we’ll let it grow: it’s hard to deny the resurgence of a plant we had thought would die off in the winter.

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