Published on July 6, 2021

Follow Jan down her garden path

By Janice R. Edwards
The Bulletin

This has been a very strange year for my container garden.

I FINALLY decided to be practical about tomatoes and only plant two instead of four. I even got an early start so I could harvest the maximum tomatoes before it got hot. But the spring was more like winter, and it rained so many days that bees could not fly to pollinate.

So now, when my tomatoes should be finishing, they are just beginning to produce.

I noticed the first tomato (a Pink Brandywine) showing color a couple of weeks ago, about the same time I heard the Mockingbird sitting on the phone line going through his whole repertoire – was he ever happy. Oh, no, he’s noticed my tomatoes, too, I thought, and out came the fake snakes for protection.

I waited one more day, heard the Mockingbird singing his heart out - again - while sitting closer to my tomatoes. So, I picked it - and would you believe - I got buzzed by the Mockingbird like I was messing with its babies. I let my prize ripen in the windowsill. It was delicious. The next day, I noticed a second tomato turning, and the Mockingbird was inching closer. I picked that tomato early, too and we are eating it with tonight’s supper. Score: Jan 2 – Mockingbird 0.

This morning, I saw my first ripe German Johnson, and raced down to get it before the Mockingbird (because this one was ripe). I picked it, and the side of the tomato facing me was perfect, Then I turned it – the rain last night coupled with the heat - it had split open and the ants were having a field day. Score one for the ants. Three German Johnson tomatoes are now sitting on my windowsill ripening.

Meanwhile, my potato vines were falling down and turning brown – time to harvest them. So, I did. I got enough potatoes for three side dishes for Roy and me.

One third went into breakfast tacos; one third was a side dish for fried pork chops; and the last third are yet to be consumed. I know, it doesn’t sound like much of a harvest, but when you think they were planted in ½ of a 55 gallon drum, and the seeds were the sprouts of only 2 store-bought potatoes that were sprouting and getting wrinkly, I think this was a very successful experiment.
If I hadn’t used those sprouting potatoes for seeds, I would have thrown them away.

So, I’d say, I had a pretty good return on my investment. My asparagus is all in the fern stage. Guess it’s time to cut them back, so I’ll get new shoots. It will probably be fall before I get any more of them to eat. Mine don’t do well in the heat.

My other experiment, beets, are looking like it is about time to harvest them, according to what I Googled. I don’t think they are going to be very big, but if I get enough for at least one pint of pickled beets, I will be happy. I’ll keep you posted.

Finally, my loofahs. They did not like the long cold Spring with endless rain. I got blossoms, and tiny loofahs formed, but they would all fall off.

Then, the sun came out and they were too dry. The vines had stopped growing and were turning yellow. So, I started watering them first thing in the morning.

The vines started growing again! The blossoms got bigger and brighter. But the vines were still yellow. So, I tried diluting my Urban Farms liquid Tomato Plant food like I do for my big tomatoes and started giving them a gallon of the mixture every morning. And then… The loofah gourds started cranking out and the vines got green and beautiful.

It appears a black ant is pollinating the loofahs. God willing, looks like they will make. I haven’t tried eating a blossom or a young gourd yet, but I think I’ll wait to see how many I will have for the sponge harvest this year.

The garden - and the Mockingbird – are keeping me busy. That’s OK, I’m learning something new every day – and isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

(Write Janice in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)