Monday, July 23, 2012

Late Bloomer

I don't have a green thumb. I find it hard enough to keep my kids alive, let alone plants. I have one tub of tomatoes that I'm 'nurturing' and that is proving to be enough hard work. Our house lies at the foot of a flip-flop-snappingly steep slope. The only way to keep plants alive is to keep them at the top of the slope where they have access to more than three hours of sunlight a day, but then we have to water them by hand as our sprinklers are temperamental at best, and at worst cost us hundreds of dollars in irrigation a month.

Our back garden is mostly notable for gophers, collections of terracota pots that may or may not contain something that might grow and an old turtle-shaped sandbox that now contains Anna's 'garden'.

We've been trying really hard this year (ie we've been remembering to water almost daily...) and I have a healthy crop of green ball-bearing sized tomatoes and Anna has one ambitious and incredibly leggy pea plant. Yesterday Anna came tearing in to the house clutching a ripe cherry tomato and a pea pod. "Let's have a salad!" she cried, which was both sweet and over-reaching in a loaves-and-the-fishes kind of way.

Let's have a salad! 

In the end we had carnitas tacos and everyone had a quarter of a cherry tomato and either one or two peas, which all felt very Dickensian. LK declined his tomato so that Tiny Tim (aka Lucy) could have a full half.

Next week we will be attempting to make chile verde out of three tomatillos.

I am actually very much enjoying this foray in to gardening. I like hiking up the hill each morning to see if anything's flowered and/or ripened. I know for a fact that it is all going to peak in an explosion of bounty the minute we head off on holiday in a few weeks.

As with most things in life though, you can work really hard at something and see no results, and then something you've been neglecting in the corner suddenly springs to life and Mother Nature makes a mockery of all your careful tending.

Take this night-blooming Cereus which just appeared early one morning and wilted about thirty minutes after this photo was taken:

You cannot be Cereus.

If it hadn't been a weekday morning then we wouldn't have been up with the birds and we would have missed it entirely. They flower very rarely, only overnight and are gone by morning. The flower above is about the size of a large grapefruit.

I said to Anna "isn't that the biggest flower you've ever seen in your life" to which she replied "it's giant but the biggest flower in the world is in Borneo and is a staggering one meter across" which once again proves she is not just reading but memorizing her National Geographic Kids magazines.

Still, I thought it was spectacular, and all the more beautiful for choosing to flower in our   wasteland of a back yard.

What's your garden surprised you with this year?


Caroline said...

I have to confess, I gave up with tomatoes (greedy squirrels), and the peas I grew entirely for their shoots which are just delicious. To some extent you can cut the pea shoots and they will keep on giving for a little while. If you are crap at watering then herbs like rosemary and thyme and oregano are good.

Laura said...

Love the pic of the night-blooming flower! And YAY! to you for keeping your garden growing! I was given two lima-bean plants sprouted in plastic cups for Mother's Day, and, well, I let them die. I should have run out and replaced the dead ones with new plants without my girls knowing, but I couldn't seem to manage that, either. Sigh. Next spring, I'll be better. I'm enjoying your endeavors very much!

AliBlahBlah said...

It's funny, the gopher holes lie directly underneath my tomato plant, but they don't seem to have tried them at all. I think perhaps we have a gopher snake *shudder*. Caroline - you're right about the herbs - my rosemary and thyme are surviving despite me.

Laura - thanks for the props!!

Expat mum said...

I find it incredibly hard to garden in CHicago. It's going to be over 100 today, which means that a lot of stuff will start wilting no matter what I do, and yet we're also having torrential showers, which is hardly conducive to getting some dessert type plants in to withstand the heat. And then we have those winters where almost nothing but the hardiest perennials make it through. Sigh.

AliBlahBlah said...

I think part of my frustration lies in the fact that we live in the 'salad bowl' of the US - everywhere I look there are orchards, strawberries, lettuce, you name it and I can't raise a few chuffing tomatoes! Sheesh. My Mum does a better job of growing fruit and veg in the North of England!

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