Sure I lost an eggplant last year but I don’t even like eggplants and you left the rest of the plants untouched unlike the raccoons that just plow through like tanks and tear everything to shreds so it was like, Okay, no problem, we can live together. I’m sure we can hug this one out, maybe employ a little group therapy and some committed rounds of roll reversal. You can have an eggplant or two if you REALLY need one and sure I don’t care for your, “I’ll just take a bite and see if I like it” attitude but you live here and I live here and we’re all creatures of the earth so I can dig it, man.
But then…. I wake up to this morning’s damage:
Who knew opossums eat tomato plants? Who knew anything short of insects and slugs eat tomato plants?
He was kind enough to simply nibble the bottom leaves off of this one. Thanks!
It’s safe to say that this tomato ain’t coming back.
I call this strategy, “The Eff You Method”, except when I say it I am much less polite.
This is how they will look for the next few months — there’s no fighting it. I must have washed my hands about a thousand times in the last week alone. Just as soon as I get them reasonably clean they’re back in the soil again to put in a new plant or fix a little something. I just can’t get with glove-wearing and only force myself to wear them in the street garden. What can I say? I just prefer to feel my hands working through the soil and touching plants, the dirt worn like a badge of honor pressing from underneath my nails.
I’ve long held the belief that there are no green thumbs or black thumbs and that gardening is a process of learning and discovery with no peak or end goal. You can garden like a maniac your entire life and never know everything there is to be known. In fact I would say that the more I learn the less I realize I know. That sounds intimidating but it’s one aspect of this hobby/lifestyle that is most rewarding and optimistic. And knowing that you can’t possibly know everything there is to know should help to take some of the pressure off.
That said, I can say with absolute certainty that all gardeners have their weaknesses — there is always that one plant, that dirty little secret whose riddle just can’t be cracked. Mine used to be radishes. I know exactly how to grow them and if you had asked me I would have been able to explain exactly what they need without flinching. But when it came down to it I grew a pretty awful radish. I wrote about my radish problem in the You Grow Girl book because I wanted people to know that they should not give up on those embarassing failures and that it is sometimes one thing to understand what a plant needs on an intellectual level and another thing to apply that knowledge to a real plant.
And then low and behold, just last year I managed to grow my first crop of good container-grown radishes! And today, for a second year running, I have harvested my first tasty, crisp, not-at-all-woody container-grown radishes of the season. Woot! I’ve come to think that my radish mistake probably came down to my own insanely stubborn insistance on growing a variety that just couldn’t take the extra heat and drought on the deck. Again this was one of those instances where I KNEW what I should have been growing and had even appropriately advised many aspiring radish growers while stubbornly soldiering on in the wrong direction in my own garden.
I first discovered stinging nettle one day while book shopping on Harbord Street, a popular used book area of Toronto. One of the stores had a selection of herbs sitting out front. Anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for herbs and am impulsive about touching them. You should see me at the end of our yearly Herb Fair meet-ups. All of those smells in one place! I am a maniac!
So there I am happily rubbing each plant and lifting my fingers to my face repeatedly soaking in a variety of delicious herbal scents. And then I rub the stinging nettle. Let’s just say the experience has taught me to be patient and observe with my eyes BEFORE making contact with my fingers or god forbid my nose! It has also taught me a new level of respect for plants. That initial shock prompted me to look into this unassuming yet powerful plant, and I have since come to appreciate it as a very valuable and fantastic herb.
May 16-27 is “Be Nice to Nettles Week.” The site has a lot of interesting facts and tid bits from a recipe for nettle soup to information about the wildlife the plant sustains. Learning about stinging nettle might not win you over completely but perhaps warm you up just a little to this painful herb.
I spent Saturday doing hardcore gardening work including prepping the fire-escape windowboxes for planting. On Sunday afternoon I purchased a few plants for the boxes and decided to get them planted up rather than wait for additional plants. Check out what I found buried by our friendly neighbourhood squirrel:
A sign of the times. Last year peanuts, this year an entire slice of pizza!
I know it was a new addition because not only was it still intact but I had just dug that spot yesterday. There was also evidence of squirrel digging on the other side of the box.
The location of the squirrel pizza.