Tuesday, August 12, 2008

tomatoes in disguise

In yet another backyard beautification disaster I've chosen function over form. This is my ongoing experiment in squirrel deterrence, which kind of seems to be working.
I covered a few plants in cheap, mesh laundry bags which gather at the bottom.
The ones that aren't covered have broken stems and only the tiniest of tomatoes before they disappear completely.
The covered ones do have a few larger tomatoes that get a chance at ripening on the vine.
So I'm going to go with it and cover the rest.
I need to remember to pull the cord at the bottom, though. This morning I found a squirrel inside one of the mesh bags, going after the biggest fruit I presume.
He found his way in but couldn't get out and freaked the closer I got.
I pulled up the mesh bag (from an arm's length plus some), and he shot out like a cartoon character, leaving a cloud of smoke and a tomato.
He made it to the roof, turned and began a string of squirrel expletives at me.

Adding to the wildness of my postage stamp was this scene from a few days ago:

I'm pretty sure this is a peregrine falcon that landed in the back yard. It's flapping caused me to look up and notice it's very big self.
Google told me it is the fastest animal in the world and it sometimes nests in some very urban environments.
Did I mention I live in the city of Chicago?
He/She hung out for a while, long enough for a few fuzzy pictures, then hopped into the bushes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What I've learned

this summer about water barrels.

1. They don't have enough pressure to water with a hose, but are great with a watering can. I tried to attach a soaker hose but that didn't really soak.

2. They fill up fast in heavy rain, and can overflow without an extra hose...

3. Or even with two. This will need three hoses to really ensure no more overflows. It's amazing how quickly this fills up in a rainstorm.

This has nothing to do with barrels or rain, but I take the powers of nature wheres I can find them. I found this ant party on the front stoop:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


It's been awhile since I participated in the garden bloggers' blooms day, not for lack of blooms nor intention. Mostly for a lack of calendar-awareness.
I thought I would focus on blooms from seeds I started earlier this year.

Pansy 'Morpho Blue'

Amaranth 'Oeschberg' variety

Teeny, tiny multi-colored coleus

Castor bean plant and it's developing seed pod

Nasturtium-'Black velvet' , not quite black, but ...

And finally, the first of the tomatoes-'Cherokee purple' heirloom variety

There are also some black violas that need to re-bloom but that might have to wait 'til next time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A tale of two amaranths...

'Oeschberg' variety, started from seed at the same time, same seed pack, both transplanted to pots right next to each other.
I've tried trimming back the lilly and liatris foliage for more light, and I feed both plantings with worm poop.
Still pretty sad.

Exhibit B in the Nature is A Wondrous and Mysterious Thing category:

Aside from the usual 'squirrels ate everything but my baby' scenario, I'm not sure what happened to the bottom pot. Both were planted with nasturtium seeds, zinnia seedlings, and some garden center annual. Same amount of light, worm poop,etc.
I'm going to try transplanting a couple of those big amaranths.

On a more even keel is the 'Cherokee Purple' heirloom variety tomato seedlings.
They've done quite well, even in their fashionable 3 gallon buckets.

I remember being told by an old neighbor, a long time ago when I grew my first tomato plants and fretted everything, 'Honey, this is Illinois. You can't not grow tomatoes'.
So I won't chalk this up to any sort of green thumb.

I really like these plants. Their first sets of leaves had a purple tint on the underside which has unfortunately dissipated. But now their fruits are making up for it with a sort of double blossom.
What really matters with these, though, is how they taste.
I can't wait.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

my own private...

Ok, maybe not my own, nor private, but still Idaho. Really lovely country. And if I knew anything about goats or cheese I'd like to herd some then make some. Or go back to our nomadic roots and gather or hunt or just make some art in caves like somebody else did (hundreds? thousands?) of years ago:

After indulging my romantic tendencies we headed a bit further west to Portland. I have no pictures but I really should have taken some to recall the gardens that just about everyone had. They were all so lush and diverse. What is it, temperate rain forest? Certain plants were strikingly different than here in Chicago. Lavender grew to my hip, and those 'marmalade' coral bells that never come back were twice as large as anything I've seen here. And the conifers...

When we returned I was struck by how Southern Chicago looked. The yard needed a machete. I guess there were a few deluges, and ten days without care caused some kind of weed revolution.
At least the tomatoes are still feisty.

I'm going to end with a dewy lupine.