Posted on July 21, 2011
This time last week I was excited about a barely visible honeydew melon in my backyard garden. Now I’m a lot more excited, a. because this melon is much easier to see and b. because it fits neatly in the palm of my hand. Another honeydew is forming just inches from where this one sits.
I’m licking my chops.
When I moved here a year ago, I remember buying honeydew at my local farmer’s market, taking it home, cutting it open and swooning over its candied sweetness. Will these turn out the same? I can only hope. We’ll see in a week, maybe less.
August is a little more than a week away and I’ve begun to plan my garden for fall. Today, I yanked out tomato plants that began yielding fruit in late March (God bless South Louisiana) but have done precious little in recent weeks. I planted green beans a week ago and am going to start clearing out squares this weekend for the winter squash I’ll need to plant in summer so I can get something worth eating in fall. I’ve got my eyes on various greens, root vegetables and peas too. Amid the academic this and that I’ve been reading, I’ve added Louise Riotte’s Carrots Love Tomatoes to my gardening library. My uncle, a gifted backyard vegetable gardener in Tennessee, sent me a photocopied portion of this book while I was still living in Atlanta. Back then, I was scattering various seeds like a old woman with a bird fetish (“You hungry little birdie? Come nibble on this kohlrabi seed. Don’t like kohlrabi, my pigeon? Then how about these crunchy beet seeds?…”), hoping that all my wild seed-flinging would lead to bountiful garden. Not so. Via Riotte, my uncle introduced me to the notion of actually planning, but none of his instruction took root until this past spring. If Mel Bartholomew has taught me to take things little by little, one square at a time (a good life philosophy, when you think about it), Louise Riotte has taught me to consider the mix. For example, Riotte writes that cucumbers (which seem to be doing well in my backyard right now, knock wood) are offensive to raccoons, so you should plant them near corn. Corn, in turn, protects cucumbers protects cucumbers from the virus that causes wilt. But if you’re like me and the size of your square foot garden precludes you from planting corn, Riotte says that cucumbers will do well near beans, peas and radishes (which is exactly why I planted the beans near the cukes recently).
Is it bad advice?
Here’s my haul from today:
I’ll start showing you what I made with this haul tomorrow.