• Jenny Dupre

A good start

Every night for the last week I have been telling Marcel that I need to write a blog post. Today my sister asked if I had written anything recently and when I said no she replied "that's why I never start anything. I don't have any follow-through." Her half-joke struck me as something I've been struggling with my entire life. I'm great at starting projects with gusto, but I quickly lose interest in them. I'm especially good at giving up on things that I'm not naturally great at. Part of this homesteading experience is an attempt to stick with something that I'm not particularly good at with the hope that someday I'll be slightly less bad at it.

I don't mean to be a slug, but laying on the couch re-watching 30 Rock for the 900th time and playing candy crush is way more interesting than writing a blog post, right? Well... I don't know what Liz Lemon would say about that but something tells me she'd agree. And that she hates blogs. But Jack Donnaghy would tell me to stop being lazy, and to take my feet off the furniture because I'm not a hobo living in a hobo camp. Then he'd probably make a "bad smell" face while looking around my tiny living room and mumble something about the fact that maybe I do live in a hobo camp.

Anyways... I've got a few fun and educational updates since my last post. First - I bought BEAUTIFUL tomato cages. My sweet, hearty tomato plants had finally gotten big enough to need cages so I went to Ocean State Job Lot (i.e. my favorite store ever) but the cages they had there seemed very big. I next went to Home Depot and realized that all tomato cages look big. But not all tomato cages are beautiful colors! So for only twice what I would have spent at OSJL (cue giant eye roll but also give me a break... it's my first garden!) I bought three yellow and three orange cages.

Notice I've only used 3 of the 6 cages...

Remember a few weeks ago when I said that I thought I may have over crowded my boxes? Well... I could only fit three of the cages in. Two on the outer plants in one row and one around the center plant in the other row. Looks like I'll have to get stakes for the other three plants. Also the tomatoes are now completely covering the row of broccoli plants, which is fine really because the bugs have decimated those things past recognition. I think I saw a little green tomato when I was out watering tonight but the mosquitoes were horrible and my chicken was burning on the grill so I didn't have time to investigate further.

The lettuce is coming along nicely and the zucchini think they might want to try to become something. The cucumbers are not looking so hot. The broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are dismal and will probably not amount to anything this year. I've already pulled and thrown away the garlic.

On Friday, after my Auntie Rhonda had mentioned to Marcel that we probably wouldn't get any carrots, or that they'd be pretty small, because the soil seemed very compact, I realized that we had two carrot tops peeping ou. HA! I thought. What does Auntie know with her years of gardening longer than I've been alive and actually having lived on a compound with no running water where they grew their own food back in the 70's... So I pulled my carrots and low and behold... two strange, warped, white, gnarly things that resembled the Mandrake Roots from Harry Potter. Not only were they horrible and completely under-ripe, but they turned into a soft, mushy lump before I could do anything with them. So I will leave the rest of my carrots alone for a while and hope that something comes of them, albeit small and ugly.

I also learned two fun things this week. If you forget to close the gate to the garden over night, the bunny will come in and nibble the flowers off your zucchini. Fortunately, the little guy didn't do too much harm and the plant seems to be rebounding. A good reminder though to always make sure the gate is latched, no matter how many glasses of wine I've had before surveying my handywork.

While looking at my carrots, making sure the bunny didn't wreak too much havoc, I was shocked to find a yellow slime creeping across my soil, up the side wall of my small bed and, to my absolute horror, into my cilantro and parsley. RUINED! (Pronounced roo-eeeened), I thought. I must cleanse this place with fire! (Living in a very old and damp house, I'm fairly terrified by mold!) But I grabbed my phone and googled "yellow slime mold" and was grateful to find out that this particular breed of mold known as Fuligo septica, or colloquially as "dog vomit slime mold" (I couldn't even make this up) is completely harmless and prone to growing on untreated wood in rainy climates. Considering it rained for about 2 weeks straight, and my garden boxes are the cheapest untreated wood I could get, it made perfect sense. Dog vomit slime mold... just one of those things that you kinda have to throw up your hands and say "well... I hope the sun comes out an destroys you or else I'm never going to eat this cilantro!"

The good news is that the sun did come out, and by the next day the mold had moved (which was honestly a little unsettling in a sentient being, invasion of the pod people kind of way) to a different wall of the garden box that gets more shade. It had completely moved out of the stems of my cilantro, and amazingly enough, must have given the plant a few added nutrients because since then, the cilantro has gone crazy! So, I guess you're welcome to visit any time, dog vomit slime mold. But maybe stay out of my plants and just chill on the wood box walls.

So there we have it. A quick update so that I can stop saying "I really need to do a blog post." I've got a pretty exciting project coming up which isn't much of a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I'm not going to say anything on here until I can do a whole post on it. But it's going to involve a staple gun. And chicken wire. And a door. Which is all more building skills than I currently possess, so that should be pretty interesting!

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