my zucchini has 99 problems…

…but a female flower ain’t one.

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In order to make a zucchini, the zucchini plant makes male flowers (left) and female flowers with baby zucchinis attached (right). The flowers need to get their stuff mixed up (i.e. they need to be pollinated) in order for the baby zucchini to keep growing.  I’ve only had a couple of zucchinis grow to full size, even though there seem to be plenty of pollinators flying around.  So I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands, and every morning this week I’ve gone out with Q-tips to pollinate them myself.  But there just haven’t been any female flowers!  There are lots of buds, like the one above, but none of them are ever blooming.  So this morning I tried prying apart the tightly closed female flower and spreading the male pollen inside. (Ok, I’m just going to say it – it was zucchini rape :s )

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The cucumbers are starting to do well – if you look closely you can see 2 nearly full grown cucumbers in this photo.  These vines & I fight an epic (and somewhat comic) battle every day, since it *really* wants to attach itself to the wood fence behind the trellis (or the nearby tomato plants, or random leaves, tree branches, or whatever else hangs near it).  But we are moving in 10 days, and so I really need it to detach itself from the rest of the world and be happily self-contained on its own little trellis. So far I think I’m winning, but we’ll see when I try to tear it away!

 

Cucumbers, like zucchinis, have male & female flowers, and the females come with tiny fruits that only mature if they get pollinated. (Can you imagine if humans worked this way?) The standard variety I planted has had lots of flowers for a while now.2013-07-20 00.15.35

But I also planted a “lemon” variety, which is supposed to produce tennis-ball-sized yellow cucumbers. It finally started flowering (or I finally noticed it flowering?), and for some reason it flowers in a ginormous clump! I have no idea what to make of this!2013-07-20 00.15.15

The tomato harvest continues, with a few more Purple Cherokees (and thankfully the worst of the blossom end rot seems to be done on that plant), and the first of the Purple Russian Plums. The Jaune Flamée continues to be awesome, and the cherries are all still producing like mad, especially the Sun Gold.2013-07-17 20.54.40a

I also got 2 more peppers, but again there was a little hole in each one, and this weird black stuff inside.  After the terrible bitter taste last time I didn’t even bother trying it, I just threw them out.  There are still a few more peppers, but I’m not holding out high hopes…

A fairly extensive Googling didn’t turn up any likely suspects – anyone have any idea who is eating my peppers?  2013-07-18 07.47.53

Just to not leave you with those gross pictures as your last garden thought today, here are some pics of the ripening tomatoes – some Black Krim, Sun Gold Cherries, and a Yellow Brandywine!2013-07-19 22.47.47 2013-07-19 22.49.25 2013-07-19 22.50.37

The green thumb is equable in the face of nature’s uncertainties; he moves among her mysteries without feeling the need for control or explanations or once-and-for-all solutions. To garden well is to be happy amid the babble of the objective world, untroubled by its refusal to be reduced by our ideas of it, its indomitable rankness.
~Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

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early greens

I’m so glad I got such an early start on greens! I have mounds of romaine lettuce just in time for my new obsession with raw tacos, which I recently tried at G-Zen, one of the top vegan restaurants in the country.

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The broccoli has been having a growth spurt too, though no heads have formed yet.

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And sowing my spinach directly from seed gave me the chance to learn a new word: cotyledon.  These are the first ’embryonic’ leaves that emerge from a seed, and they don’t resemble the true leaves much at all.  (Phew, my spinach doesn’t have a long-skinny-looks-like-grass disease after all!)

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Sugar snap peas are growing fast, and soon I’ll have to figure out a trellising plan.  And the beet seeds are starting to sprout, though I think maybe they haven’t been getting enough sun, so I moved them out to the deck extension with the spinach.

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The dill and mint are doing really well in their dollar store bowls, although I think I jumped the gun on the basil – I think it froze while I was away in Seattle. I’m curious to see if I can salvage it though, so stay tuned!

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A few strawberries are starting to appear already, and I think it’s possible I may not have killed my favorite red anemone after all!

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How ’bout we start
with a salad, a fresh bed of lettuce with croutons?
Later we can play a game of chess on the futon.

~dead prez, “Mind Sex”

a little known fact

You knew roses have thorns, but did you know that many vegetables come with their own thorny defense too?  The harvest time of year brings them clearly into focus, as I try to steal the fruit without giving any blood in return!

Eggplants have sharp spikes on their stems.

Zucchini plants are covered in tiny prickles that break off in your skin and make you swell up.

And though you’d never know it from the cucumbers you buy in the store, cucumbers grow with small white spikes growing all over their flesh.  Oddly enough, the spikes brush right off.

But he that dares not grasp the thorn, should never crave the rose.
~Anne Bronte, English poet and novelist