Ok. Where did my post go?
I posted this picture of one of my seven pumpkins — they are actually growing. I am happy to say. I pollinated them (I guess correctly for once!) and went away for a week. When I came back, I actually had pumpkins that were growing large and fat! Here’s a picture. Now I have to wait — the hardest part of growing vegetables!
Here lies my glorious pumpkin, taking up my whole herb garden. I celebrate its robustness–for the first time I actually planted and grew the plants on time and it is a magnificent vine, full of giant leaves, yellow flowers and tiny fruit. See the picture below–it looks almost mysterious in the morning light, shrouded in mist, flowing down my hill and sending its twining feelers out across the rock steps and over to the apple tree. But if you scroll down to the bottom of the picture below, you will see things are not as they seem. This is not the vital fecund fruit bearing plant it appears to be! No, the baby pumpkins are shriveling!
Gasp! They turn brown and shrivel up and fall off. Not good. I have no words.
Why do I go through this every year? Why can’t I grow pumpkins? This morning after I took this picture, I decided to put on my bee hat and pollinate. I figured that out last year, but I thought that with this giant plant, I wouldn’t have to. But I did and there was one bee with me. Go little bee, do your stuff!
Wow! There’s a lot of pollen in there–some ants too. Well, all of you, sprinkle that stuff around! Look at it! I think that’s the male flower. In my rudimentary understanding of the nature of pollination, I put a Q-tip in there and took pollen and stuffed it in the female flower. The female flower, well, looks female and has a baby pumpkin at the end of it. I found lots of males and only three females at my pumpkin fraternity this morning. You get my drift! I have an overpopulation of males–every year, the same situation! Reminds me of my undergrad days, but I suppose that was to my advantage. (Anyway, I didn’t make pumpkins!)
(By the way, morning is good because the flowers are open).
Now what? Really, what I want to know is–what’s wrong? Last year I got one or two pumpkins (from three plants). The year before I got one Cinderella pumpkin. Last year I fertilized them. Last year I planted late and I surely did not have a plant like this. Oh yeah, I fertilized it with something called GROW BIG this morning after I did the pollinating. Geez. All this work for one pumpkin. Now I have to wait and see. It is very hot and humid now so maybe that will help, too.
Honestly, I think the coastal air does something to them. I figured out it’s nearly impossible to grow Echinacea and Black Eyed Susans. That one year I grew Black Eyed Susans was a miracle. This year I bought the seeds from Burpee, I planted them in the ground, I planted a second control group in peat pots–guess what? One flower. ONE flower from all that.
Hey, I also harvested this watermelon too early. Have you ever seen a kid who told her mom not to pick her watermelon look at you after you pick her watermelon when she told you it wasn’t ripe? You don’t want to see that face, belive me.
It didn’t taste that bad. (But it didn’t taste quite right either so no one else would eat it but me pretending that I had done the right thing.) There are three more left safely on the vine, waiting ripeness.
So, while my garden isn’t going exactly how I planned, I finished a draft of my 2nd novel this week. Yipee!
This is Julie, matching her pillows.
Our friends Julie and Brian have one of my favorite backyards. The space has a lower patio where they have dinner parties on a long Spanish table is surrounded by a retaining wall planted with lush roses, lavender, alyssum and sometimes tomatoes. The upper level has a sloping grass lawn–perfect for cartwheels, a fire pit area with chairs for lounging and borders of citrus and cannas. The upper level has another patio, a loggia type structure and the kids’ trampoline. Julie decided to freshen up for summer and to redecorate her lounging area now that Brian put a tin roof on the arbors that make the outdoor room at the top of the hill. They had us over to see their hard work and have some snacks and of course, fabulous cocktails.
Here’s my Better Homes & Gardens shot of the outdoor living room. I love the turquoise and orange. The curtains block the wind and sun (and I’ll tell you a secret–you can get them at Ikea. They are regular curtains. Pillows at Home Depot–if any are left!)
The patio fountain:
Here’s the jalapeno poppers they made from scratch with chiles from our friend Dulce’s garden:
Yum-yum. Get the recipe here: Sunset Magazine July 2012 edition.
Julie is a designer, and I think the colors in her new garden room are fabulous. Don’t you? Orange and blue, my favorites. As we ate our jalapenos in her new room, seated on the newly rosewood oiled teak furniture, we planned the next few weeks of gardening. September is coming and that is a busy month in San Diego. I can’t wait for my family to be occupied with football on TV so I can go outside and garden–hee, hee. Really! Okay back to the yard– it looks amazing. Here are more pictures of all the outdoor “living room” type areas they have interspersed in their yard–maybe it will give you ideas next time you want to create a garden room!
For lounging time! (Not much of that when you are busy gardening!)
Beautiful retaining walls from salvaged concrete patio. I love the roses and lavender planted along it. Some years, they mix in tomatoes. Those chairs surround the firepit. I like that they have lots of thick gravel to outline the different areas.
Sorry, Brian! I don’t have your photo! You were too busy cooking!