Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No Plant's Land

Have you ever seen those aerial photographs of managed landscapes and not managed landscapes adjacent to each other? They're meant to startle through the visualization of untenable differentiation. Not to minimize that, but this spot where the front yard meets the side yard has the qualities of those photos. Nothing, not even these dayflower weeds, will grow beyond this line. Its as if they know that that spot belongs to my landlord and just won't take the chance! He's a killer, a mad man they think. Do not cross that man. Don't even try it!

About three feet away where the Commelina communis grows rather wildly, people/person still like to leave cat food garbage in front of the garden. I have resisted to this point, but in spite of upsetting some feline friender (a word now, like friended), I will make a sign asking whomever it is to just quit it. I mean, do it in front of your own house. Isn't this despicable? Every day feeding the thousands of street cats in front of my house instead of their own -where, apparently, they would rather not lure them. I don't mind the cats so much, but you know, the garbage, and just the idea that they think my building, as trashy as it is, is the appropriate place for leaving stinkin food.

By the way, I am developing a notion that folks think vegetable gardening, as opposed to flower gardening, is a trashy activity. Why? All variables taken into consideration, people seem to dump more trash in my vegetable growing side yard. Is it because it speaks of work over beauty? Both sidewalks are residential and active. But the front yard always has flowers and the side yard pots with vegetables. Is it the weedy look of tomatoes? I suppose I'll never know, but it don't matter. Next year, I'm back to perennials over in the side yard with a handful of herbs because only those you need close at hand.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Did You Know It Was National Public Lands Day On Saturday?

Why would you? I didn't. But I like public lands, having grown up where land seemed to be especially private. No matter though, I had already signed-up for a free stone wall repair workshop at the Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton, Connecticut. It was a beautiful autumn day. We went by public transportation, but clearly it was not national public transportation day.

How could we not get to Grand Central within 1 hour and 15 minutes on a Saturday morning around 6 am from Kensington, Brooklyn? Thank God for that cabbie on Allen St. who got us from the E. Broadway F station to GC with three minutes to spare! We made our 7:07 by the skin of our teeth, 30 seconds to missed train. MTA -definitely not going our way. Made worse on our return when no one told us there was a bus replacing the train to S. Norwalk. As the bus pulled away, we were told by a man selling farm goods (we bought nitrate-free smoked bacon) "there goes your train!" Not a peep, no signage, just dust. Next train (uh, bus), three hours! Fortunately we knew someone- Park Ranger Emily! She swung into action, coming by the station after her shift was up and drove us to S. Norwalk for the next connecting train. No. Wonder. Cars!

This is Park Ranger Chris. He gave us a tour of the stone walls at Weir Farm, showing us the different types of stone wall construction. The wall we were about to repair was a 'thrown' wall.

Here's our group working feverishly on a boundary between the park and a private residence.

It took four of us to get this boulder out of its grave and into the rebuilt wall.

In about three hours time the ten of us were able to restore about 75 feet of thrown stone wall. There is something joyful about communal work -at least to me, who has more comfort in the social environment of work than the work environment of socializing. So much gets done so fast, and throwing stones with strangers is an excellent ice-breaker.

Monday, September 28, 2009


The explosion of last minute tomatoes, mostly 'Black Russian' and some 'Orange Pixie'.

The underside of one russian.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Been All They Can Be

The whole sorry mess. I am thankful for today's rains. But the sogginess makes blighted plants look miserable. At times like this, one must be decisive!

Therefore the 'Black Russian' on the left has been turned in on itself to be removed sometime this week. It was producing no more fruit this season but made great strides up to this point. The 'Milano Plum' on the right was the first to blight and is looking pretty lousy.

But it keeps on producing new green growth free of blight. Then, sets of plum tomatoes and so it stays.

Somewhere in there are two 'Bella Rosa' plants that are still producing despite being ill.

These two are likely to mature before frost.

But the beans have been all they can be.

In their stead, a broccoli 'Calabrese' from last spring. How's this for broccoli growing: plant seedling in a gallon pot in spring, summer over in a semi-shady location, water little, pot-up in autumn and fertilize. See what happens. I'll let you know.

What really matters now? The Asters!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Block In Bay Ridge

Minimal with slope.


Maximal next door to minimal.

Beyond maximal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ack, Arg, Ach!

I think this Gator is choking on this tree!


A series of pictures is enough to say what needs to be said.

I will make my way here again next year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


My landlord instructed me that his wife can't stand the Boston ivy remaining on the wall. One morning this week, his worker had a ladder in the garden yanking on the vine. I went out to assist (read, check on my plants), and thought of my previous post when I saw that he yanked a shingle off the dilapidated building when he pulled the vine from below. Oops. I thought he'd just glue it back up with some construction adhesive, but no, it's still off. I know the cursing going on, if that garden wasn't there, we could just spray the herbicide to kill off that cursed vine. Seriously, its funny when your slowly rotting building's main problem is the garden that interferes with vine control. Each year his wish to reside the building adds anxiety to my gardening -knowing that said work will do in the whole thing, like this time. Each year he says this is the year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Festival of Flowers

On this Autumnal Equinox, I present....

September's Boltonia.

The green sun-bursts on the Maximilian Sunflower.

One beginning to unfurl.

The sedum's second flush.

Watching the Salvia elegans daily for the turn to bloom...

Which looks like this: yellowed leaves, elongating leaders.

Of course, autumn's Eupatorium blue.

And finally, the flower buds of the Chrysanthemum 'Sheffield Pink'.

Not pictured, but also the three other blue-purple asters, a magenta aster, seaside solidago, monkshood are all to bloom by October. And forever blooming is the white and pink phlox, the black eyes of susan, and the knockout rose.

The darker days of autumn can sully my spirit, but the long display of blue, pink and yellow in my front yard is as powerful a remedy as can be.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eww, It's Earful

Ahh, the bountiful supply of sweet corn. We bought some two weeks ago from this same vendor and barbequed it along with a boneless turkey thigh from DiPalo's Turkey. So sweet, it was like eating Corn Pops. We decided to give it another go.

But each and every ear had one Corn Ear Worm, Heliothis zea, inside its husk. Green, black, brown, or pinkish- one worm for every ear. The moth lays one or several eggs on the silk tassel. But generally you won't find more than one worm inside the ear because, apparently the young cannibalize each other.

If you're used to buying conventionally grown corn from the supermarket, it is unlikely you've seen many of these. You know how they sell those shucked corn ears in the plastic wrap, with the ends cut off? Yep, often corn ear worm damaged. That's how they make something that makes people go 'eww' into something that looks like a time saver!

If you remove the husk, the worm wants to escape. It has already made corn meal out of this ear tip.

The farmer selling this corn at the Cortelyou Farmer's Market is not an organic farmer. Organic farmers may use pheromone traps or BT sprays, but these have only limited usefulness. Apparently the female moth can lay up to two thousand eggs in her life time and two generations can survive one season. Food for us is food for all, including worms, so cut off those corn ends and lets get grilling.

Bucka Ding, Bucka Ding, Bucka Ding Dang Doong.

Tangle, Sorrow, and Decay

There are those who might feel disquieted by the blight of vegetables that now look like overgrown and dying weeds, by the free-ranging max sunflowers looking straggly and unfamiliar. But you can't please everyone. No, no matter what. Even amongst gardeners what has come of your work may not be good enough. There'll be differing tastes and ideas about what's best. Take stock in those who offer appreciative and kind words, those you see through the window stopping, pointing, smiling at the garden below. Learn to live with oneself, flaws and all, and judge as little as humanly possible. As bad as it can be, it's not that bad. After all, "...behind it's tangle, sorrow, and decay is intelligence and goodness."

The late blight makes the 'Orange Pixie' look like it's seen a ghost.

It's tough out there for the vegetables, even these new broccoli sprouts suffer from little sun now that it is late September; a sun like March. In a field, the plants would still be getting enough for growth, but with trees and buildings, even the tomatoes are lucky to see four hours a day.

The 'Bella Rosa' and 'Black Russian' have a few green fruits, and will slowly begin to ripen at any size.

The 'Milano Plum' and 'Orange Pixie' plucked from their blighted vines. Ever hopeful, these vines continue to put out new suckers and new flowers.

A plate of side yard basil and tomatoes. Orange Pixie, Black Russian, and Bella Rosa.