Wednesday, July 23, 2008


This year for my birthday Dave ordered me a frame for a raised bed garden. What I've been thinking is that I'd like to try the Square Foot Gardening method. We put it together and filled it around the first part of July.

We actually did put together the "Mel's Mix" that the website recommends, after searching high and low for something called vermiculite. It's easy to find in tiny bags at Home Depot and Lowes, but not in really huge bags to use as a major part of your soil component. Anyway, so we dumped in tons and tons of compost and peat moss and, yes, vermiculite, and mixed it all together with a rake. Which I must say was actually quite fun - sort of like mixing a gigantic cake. And then we put just a few things in it, since it was late in the season. The thought was to get an idea of what we would like next year.

So we had a cherry tomato, three regular tomato plants of all different varieties (to see what worked best), two cucumber plants, a zucchini, a bell pepper plant, and yet another basil to add to the ever-growing basil family (we should just go ahead and plant our entire lawn with basil).

Yesterday when I went out to inspect everything, I notice the leaves on one of the cucumbers were chewed to bits, and then I saw a little yellow beetle with black stripes. I picked off one of the dead leaves and squished him with it, and then I saw another. And another. And then another.

I killed all of them I could find, and then came inside to Google these stupid beetles, and learned they were - wait for it - ....cucumber beetles. Imagine. They are drawn to plants that are infected with some sort of cucumber bacteria and will die anyway, and cannot be salvaged.

So I went back out to pull out the plant, hoping the second cucumber was not also infected and would not also soon be overrun with these beetles. We shall see.

Now for the tomatoes.

Aidan went out with me last night to look at the plants. I told him what everything was, showed him the blossoms on (nearly) everything, and showed him a wee green tomato, and a green cherry tomato which should have been red a long time ago, according to my impatient calculations. I want that tomato. I've had my eye on it for days and days and days. He oohed and aahed and wowed over it all, and I made certain to tell him, "These are tomatoes. We eat them when they are red. RED. Not green. Do NOT pick Mommy's tomatoes. We will eat them when they are red. RED. Only red. No green. No." I don't see how I could have been more clear than that, and I figured he would understand, since he's been swooping down on the strawberry plant every time there's anything even remotely red on it. Which means Aidan has gotten ALL the strawberries this year; it only puts out one at a time, and he's assiduous about keeping it picked clean. But. He waits until they are red. RED. Not green.

So we came in and went about our business and I'm sitting on the couch with Ethan, and Aidan comes out with his cheeks all chipmunk-like. Still - still! - I didn't suspect anything. Which means you all are one-up on me, because I know every one of you can totally see what's coming.

"Aidan, what do you have in your mouth?"

He looked at me guiltily, but didn't disclose the contents of his mouth.

"Come here, Aidan."

Reluctantly, he sidled closer. I pinched his cheeks together with my thumb and forefinger. He refused to part his lips. I applied a little more pressure. Nothing. I wiggled another finger in between those stubborn lips, and out shot several bright green seeds, amidst lime green saliva.

Then and only then, did I suspect what he had done. I went to the window and looked out. Sure enough, the cherry tomato plant was bare. I was furious.

But there was no time to be furious. Instead of popping it in his mouth while he was outside with me, he'd picked it and brought it in the house, and ate it in the kitchen, leaving the star-shaped leaf from the top, on the floor. Where Dylan thought it looked interesting. And so he put it in his mouth. And choked on it. He scared himself and me nearly to death. I fished out the tomato stem, but he was still choking. I fished out a couple more green things, and then he was fine, but cried for a while after that.

So. The garden. I'm not sure what the rest of the season holds. I'm hoping between Aidan and the bugs, we will get something out of it. I'm trying to be optimistic.


Jamie said...

I love your blog and the stories you share.

Here's hoping the garden is a success, despite these early problems!

Kerrie said...

Aww, poor Dylan!!

Isn't a garden great though?
I'm all excited about your raised beds, we're planning on building some next spring.
I have a request for old wood and some chain link fencing on freecycle right now - we'll have to lock up our garden tightly or the deer will reap our harvest!
I can't *wait* to get that good, rich, dark dirt under my fingernails!
I have one lone little potted tomato plant on my deck right now - I should blog about it instead of filling up your comment box - LOL!