Sunday, October 07, 2007

Weekend bustling 'bout the garden...

I came home on Friday night to find (somewhat mysteriously) a box of strawberry plants on my doorstep -- three-hundred of them to be exact. I had contacted Ruby Mountain Nursery last week with an inquiry about their berries. It sounds like a great idea -- grow the berries at high altitude, far away from other strawberry plants (thus reducing the chances for viruses). Use minimal fungicides and almost no herbicides. Since it's so cold in La Jara, the plants have already had a good amount of winter chilling and flower bud development; they should produce earlier and grow more vigorously than plants grown in milder areas. Plus, he had commercial varieties that are hard for a home gardener to get. (I got Chandler (an old favorite), Strawberry Festival, and Winter Dawn.)

Anyway, I had contacted the grower last week, expressing interest and asking for ordering instructions. Next thing I know, the box is on by doorstep... (Two-hundred fifty of the plants went to Nize, my local sustainable grower. Fifty should be enough for my family.)

(For the Yankees reading this blog, in FLA we grow strawberries as annuals.)

I still don't know how I'm supposed to pay for the plants, but I guess the guy will send me an invoice. No complaints here, the plants were very nice, and I'm delighted to have plants this early in the season.

Anyway, lucky thing the weather on the coast was too bad for me to fish for reds. Instead, I spent a VERY HOT and humid day yesterday quickly preparing my beds (lots of mushroom compost, a two-inch layer of live-oak leaves, lots of cottonseed meal). I'll need to run the microsprinklers in the bed a bunch this week, with the hot weather we're predicted to have. I'm a bit worried about the plants, but they looked fine this morning. (Though by late afternoon they were again very wilty...)

I took the time, while I was hot and very sweaty, to go ahead and clean out my perennial bed. I pulled a diseased rosebush, ripped out a bunch of overgrown Alternanthera and weeded the backs of the beds. We had another inch of rain on Friday and Saturday. It's crazy how quickly weeds and mushrooms can grow here when the sun's a bit less intense and the ground's sodden.

Some relief is around the corner: This coming weekend the National Weather Service is predicting our first big "back-door front" pushing down from the Great Lakes. That should drop the temperature down to the low-eighties during the day and upper fifties at night... There will be much rejoicing in this household.

Tonight, while cooking my wife her birthday supper, I managed to plant geraniums ('Summer Showers' ivy mix and 'Ringo Deep Scarlet', both from Swallowtail), cilantro ('Delphino'), dill ('Dukat'), parsley ('Rezzemolo Gigante d'Italia'), cutting celery, and some Broccoli di Rapa.

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