August 22, 2006

New Bugs, Politics and Tomatoes

Ah, life as a public official. The drama of the community garden has begun and someone is now going around with a petition to demand that the Steering Committe (which I am on) have a public meeting about the fate of a particular area of the greenspace that is across from all the garden plots. At least it's not boring. I am hesitant to divulge the details since I have recently learned that some of the history of this particular garden is a little shady and involves theft and "hush-hush" reparations.

Suffice it to say that the person complaining was perfectly happy to have the public kept in the dark when he was in charge.

All I really care about is having a lovely garden that the community supports and enjoys but, that is not as easily attainable as you might think.

Meanwhile I have seen a few new bugs and the tomatoes are coming on strong.

Here's the bug update:

I saw two little yellow bugs that are really cute but which I fear are cucumber beetles. They were both tiny and yellow but one had little polka dots (like a lady bug but smaller) and one was striped. I couldn't get my camera to focus so check out the photos in the link. I don't have any cucumbers growing but, they like tomatoes too. FYI - They are damn quick and hard to catch.

The other bug I saw was large and ugly but, possibly a Spined Soldier Bug which would be a good thing since those are beneficial and eat other bad bugs. I'm not completely sure that's what it was though. Once again all my photos came out blurry. This bug is very slow moving and I pretty much had to reason with it to move aside so I could get at one of my ripe tomatoes.

My policy is usually to leave things alone unless I know what it is and know that its bad so that I don't accidentally kill a "good guy."Apparently, sometimes the cute bugs are bad and the ugly one's are good.

As for the tomatoes and eggplant....just look at the photo above. That's just a fraction of what's coming too. Hooray!!

August 12, 2006

Know when to fold 'em

Yes, ladies and gentlemen I finally have tomatoes! A few more of the Chadwick's ripened and I managed to harvest them before anyone else got to them. The larger ones are "Pruden's Purple." They look red to me but, what do I know.

I could have waited one more day to let the tomatoes get REALLY red but, after the "theft" I felt like I needed to go for it.

Sadly though, I decided to pack in my sole surviving pepper plant. It isn't losing leaves anymore and it did start to grow one tiny pepper but, even that had a sinister brown streak in it. Sometimes it's better to quit while you're ahead.

August 5, 2006


I am taking a deep breath and counting to ten and going to my happy place. I'm not angry so much as I am really really disappointed.

On Thursday morning I noticed that my very first tomato of the year was starting to turn red. In fact it was red but, I perceived it to be a little orange and therefore figured it would be ok to wait to pick it. Friday was a little rainy so I waited but then first thing Saturday morning I bounded out there to have the lovely little Chadwick Cherry Tomato that I have worked for for two months. I'm pretty sure I even told my brother about it last night when he asked "what are you doing tomorrow?" That's how excited I was.

Needless to say, my heart sank when I got out there and saw that it was missing. It was taken off so cleanly that its hard for me to believe an animal or bird took it. That, plus the fact that it was easily visible from the front of my garden plot where the pathway is makes me suspect a human being. Its only one little cherry tomato so I don't think it was anything sinister. Here are the two theories I have:

1) Little kid who has just finished harvesting tomatoes in a nearby plot with mommy or daddy wanders off, is attracted to my sink, sees the tomato and swipes it thinking he or she is doing valuable work. Damn Kids!

2) Friend of another gardener (who is somehow clueless about the way someone who works to grow food pays attention to these things) is strolling around, checking out all of the different garden plots, sees my tomato and takes it thinking nothing of it. I know friends of mine have walked around and "innocently" wanted to steal other people's food and I've had to stop them and explain the heartbreak I might feel if the bean I'd been checking on every day for a week just disappeared right before I was planning to pick it.

Its also possible that it just fell off but, I really don't think so and, if that were the case then why wasn't it on the ground along with one of the green ones and a few leaves hmmmm?

I definitely don't think another gardener would just take it. If anything we have the problem that some of the gardener's leave town and their food gets enormous or rots on the vine.

Anyway, I guess I've learned some kind of a lesson and lost some innocence. As a result I went ahead and picked my first Nadia Eggplant. Its gorgeous. I'm not going to use it until Monday though and I was planning to wait until then to pick it but, a little defensive gardening every now and then seems in order at the moment.

Meanwhile there is plenty to be happy about gardenwise. I suspect I'll get my "first tomato" any day now.

August 2, 2006

Pesto Factory

It has hit that point in the summer when I feel extremely guilty (and unhappy, to be honest) if I don't spend at least an hour in the garden on the weekend and make at least one jar of basil pesto. Last summer, including all the "pesto parties" I still had about 9 jars left in the freezer by the end of the season. A bit much I know. It was handy in March when I could still whip up a quick dinner for 8 if I needed to but, how often do you need to?

The basil part is pretty easy but keeping the house stocked with garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and lemons or limes (my only addition to the good ol' Joy of Cooking recipe) can be a lot of work. For olive oil I recommend buying one of those 110 ounce cans so you never run out.

Oh and if you have friends with nut allergies, sunflower seeds work really well instead of pine nuts although they don't get that lovely "who's-baking-something-wonderful-in-here" smell when you toast them.

Mmmmmm Pesto.