The magical re-appearing garden, 2016 edition

Magical re-appearing garden

(If only it was really that easy!)

It was a good afternoon for getting my hands dirty. It feels like a late start this year – it’s been too cold at night until just the last few days! And of course now that it’s time, I’m going to be out of town for 90% of the next month! Thank goodness for friend-neighbors who don’t mind watering in exchange for veggies ūüôā

This year’s garden starring (hover over picture to see cultivar name):

I do love my dark purple tomatoes, and I missed out on Black Krim last year after he kept dying, so I’m excited for that, and to try a new cultivar I found called¬†Carbon. Ok, hurry up and grow, guys!

 

What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.
~Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden

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More Frankenfruit!

Yesterday¬†I posted about my new creation, provisionally¬†named Frankenmato until I can judge his characteristics. Today I thought I’d share an even more ridiculous(ly awesome) Frankenfruit – the Tree of 40 Fruits.

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This tree was created over five years by grafting together branches from 40 different types of stone fruit including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds. The tree begins the season looking fairly normal, and then bursts into a rainbow of blooms, which then produce dozens of rare and old varieties of fruit from June to October. How awesome would it be to have one of these in your backyard?!

At the time this project began I was doing a series of radio hoaxes where I hijacked commercial radio station frequencies and played my own commercials and songs. In addition to becoming acquainted with FCC regulations I also discovered that the term “hoax” comes from “hocus pocus,” which in turn comes from the Latin “hoc est enim corpus miem,” meaning “this is my body” and it’s what the Catholic priest says over the bread during [the] Eucharist, transforming it into the body of Christ. This process is known as transubstantiation and [it] led me to wonder how I could transubstantiate a thing. How could the appearance of a thing remain the same while the reality changed? And so, I transubstantiated a fruit tree.
~Sam Van Aken, Artist.

Frankenmato

This story starts with one of my favorite flowering plants ever: the giant Pinot Noir Hardy Hibiscus. It blooms 8-10″ across, and it has overwintered in this giant pot for the past 3 years.

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It was always quite slow to start showing any green in the spring, and every year I’d think it hadn’t made it through the winter, but then just when I was about to give up on it, some green shoots would appear. So this year I kept the faith when staring at the bald sticks into June.

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And the faith paid off – in mid-June, green shoots started to appear.

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But….the shoots didn’t look quite right! On closer inspection, these were tomato shoots! It seems that some tomatoes must have fallen into this pot last year, and the seeds managed to survive the winter and self-seed! It was a mystery though, which of the 12 varieties of tomatoes I planted last year was the winner here.

After letting it grow wild and crazy for a while, I managed to wedge in a tomato cage and tie up the stalks. But now that the tomatoes have started to ripen, it’s become clear that there wasn’t just one winner, but at least THREE different types of tomatoes growing in this one container!

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So far I see Sweet 100s (the bright red ones), Sun Gold (the smaller orange ones, and my favorites), and … I have no idea!! (Larger yellow/orange ones). None of the tomato varieties planted last year¬†were this medium type of yellow/orange tomato.¬†My best guess is that this fruit is a result of cross-pollination.

If different tomato varieties are planted close together (as mine certainly are!), flowers from one plant can get pollinated with pollen from another variety of tomato. The resulting tomato fruit will look exactly the same, but will carry hybrid seeds inside. If these seeds are saved (or sow themselves!), the offspring tomatoes will carry some characteristics of each parent, resulting in an entirely new variety of tomato! Will it turn out to be a delicious accident, or a monstrous disaster? Stay tuned…

Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.
~Frankenstein’s monster, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

the first month

2015-06-13 10.51.40It’s¬†been a rainy few weeks, and both the garden and I are pretty happy about it – it’s nice to be able to go away to sunny Texas for the weekend and know that your plants are being taken care of by the sky!

The zucchini plants are going nuts, as they always do. So far, it looks like it may be a bumper year for teeny (and not-so-teeny) phalluses ūüôā

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The herb garden is also looking great – I’ve got some spearmint, chocolate mint, chives, a cute little dwarf basil (I guess “cute”, “little”, and “dwarf” are a bit redundant. Oh well.), rosemary, oregano, cascading nasturtiums, and some hidden strawberries that are SO tiny still –¬†see next picture.

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Strawberries – I have no idea if they’ll even bear fruit this year. If they do, it will be kind of amazing, since this will be the 5th year they re-emerge after winter¬†in this same tiny peat moss container.

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I planted some purple potatoes this year in a “potato bag”. I’m planning to do another post about these when I add the second layer, but for now, look at how well they are flourishing in this bag!

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Lastly, I seem to have gone overboard on the flowers this year, which is unlike me — usually I want to fill every last nook and cranny with edibles. But I was feeling indulgent with my gift certificate at the garden center, and apparently I was also feeling pretty purple!

I’m most proud of my “window box” – I think it looks great, and it’s in a perfectly shaded spot to keep the fuchsia plant happy. I LOVE fuchsias, but I have such a hard time keeping them lively in those hanging pots they normally come in, so this year I took them out and combined them with some hot orange annuals and some dark purple foliage. This container is right beside my door, and makes me super happy when I go in and out.

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When I walk with you I feel as if I had a flower in my buttonhole.
~William Makepeace Thackeray

2015 garden, starring:

It was a beautiful weekend to get most of the garden planted. The plants all look a bit sad as they adjust to being outside, but in a week or two it'll be like they've always been there. I'll post in more detail soon, but for now. here's the starting lineup!

It was a beautiful weekend to get most of the garden planted. The plants all look a bit sad as they adjust to being outside, but in a week or two it’ll be like they’ve always been there. I’ll post in more detail soon, but for now. here’s the starting lineup!

Also starring:

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
~Margaret Atwood

Indigo Kumquat

This is the first year I’ve grown this cherry tomato called “Indigo Kumquat”. The name intrigued me, and the tomato looked pretty in the picture. But when the tomatoes on my plant started ripening, they looked really crazy! ¬†They turn almost black on the top half, while the bottom half is still green, and they start looking more and more rotten as they ripen. When they’re finally ripe though, they look just as advertised – like a (half) indigo colored kumquat. They taste great – not super sweet, but a bit meatier than most cherries, and a bit bigger.

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2013 Harvest Counter

STRAWBERRIES
BEETS
LETTUCE (HEADS)
SNAP PEAS
SPINACH (LEAVES)
BROCCOLI (HEADS)
PEPPERS
ZUCCHINI
CUCUMBER
LEMON CUCUMBER
40
10
6
32
60
3
5
2
1
2
TOMATOES
SUN GOLD CHERRY
CHOCOLATE CHERRY
ITALIAN ICE CHERRY
ZEBRA CHERRY
JAUNE FLAM√ČE
CHEROKEE PURPLE
PURPLE RUSSIAN
BLACK KRIM
RAINBOW
PINK CASPIAN
YELLOW BRANDYWINE
.
202
79
96
22
20
19
11
9
1
9
2
HERBS
BASIL
CHIVES
DILL
MINT
.
lots
some
none
lots