Thursday, October 8, 2009

552. Gardening Season Comes To An End

Earlier this year in February, I plotted out how I would put in a garden in my little inner-city plot of land. In front of the house, I've got about a 26 foot square area with a walkway down the middle constituting my front yard. My side yard is a six foot wide stretch of land between my house and the neighbors. The back yard is occupied, for the most part, by an oversized two-car garage, a small deck, and the air-conditioning unit (which quit in July and I've still not had it fixed). There isn't much of a back yard.

What I do have is five of those tall grasses, three very tall and variegated with wide leaves, and two that aren't, along with two very small shrubs. After digging up most of the front yard on the west side of the brick walkway, I did some rearranging and proceded to plant a small garden.

The garden went in on Derby Day under overcast skies and a temperature of 55 degrees. Even though it had been in the 70s and 80s for the three days prior, Derby Day and the two days following remained cool.

I planted four varieties of tomatoes close to the house and three varieties of bell peppers in front of those closer to the little wrought iron fence along the sidewalk. I also added one banana pepper plant. The tomatoes were Chocolate Cherry, German Red Strawberry Heirloom, Rosy Pink Beefsteak, and Winter Grape. The peppers were Chocolate Beauty (brown), Mandarin (red), and Yellow (surprise, yellow). According to the planting directions, fruit should have started appearing on some as early as July 6 and at the latest July 26. Interspersed among all the plants were several different flower varieties - mostly marigolds and petunias, along with a few irises that I didn't know I had. For fun, I also planted some squash seeds just to see the runners, and some rosemary in a pot.

Incidentally, later in the day Mine That Bird, a 50-1 shot, won the Run for the Roses.

It became evident early on that the Chocolate Cherry tomato plant wasn't going to produce as it was taken over by the other three. I pulled it out sometime in July. For a total of seven plants, my garden grew well beyond its appointed boundaries, eventually filling up, mostly with leafy matter rather than fruit, most of the front yard on that side of the walk.

On the 4th of July, I still had not pulled a ripe tomato, but I did take attendance. There was a total of exactly 200 fruits, most of them on the Winter Grape tomato plant, tomatoes somewhat bigger than a cherry tomato plant. I also counted the peppers, which had four, but two had already been pulled.

I pulled the first ripe tomatoes, again Winter Grape variety, on July 9th. The day was overcast and hazy, with a temperature of 80 degrees. Finally, on July 20, the 40th Anniversary of the Man on the Moon, the tomatoes began coming on in abundance, and they have continued so until about two weeks ago. In total, I've pulled about 600 tomatoes, with at least 1/2 of those coming from the one Winter Grape plant. I've never seen anything like it. The peppers began producing in abundance at the beginning of August. I've pulled about 40 peppers, but none which had ripened to a full brown, red, or yellow.

I've taken fruit to my Mom's, her neighbors, church, work, my neighbors, three or four friends, and some to people passing on the sidewalk witnessing the spectacle of a front yard garden. It has been a real pleasure.

But, the time is coming for the garden to be uprooted, the soil turned, and all that sort of thing. Sooner or later this month will come the first real freeze and I want to harvest what is left of the growth before that happens. So far, we've had temperatures as low as 48 and that is forecasted again tomorrow night.

Sunday will probably be the day of reckoning for the garden - the summer garden that is.

Sometime yesterday my friend Hazel, who has been cleaning out her garden, dropped off a bag full of black-eyed susans. I'm not sure where they'll go, but I'm pretty sure they will get there on Sunday.


Each year Dick Frymire, an agriculturalist in Irvington, Kentucky, makes weather predictions based on tree bark and wooly worms. Google that name and you will find lots to read from Mr. Frymire. Below are his predictions for the 2009-2010 Winter Season.

Oct. 1: First frost - (didn't happen to my knowledge)

Oct. 30: Killing frost - just in time for Hallowe'en

Nov. 15: Flurries

Nov. 27: Snow, one inch

Dec. 8: Snow, one inch

Dec. 17: Snow, two inches

Dec. 25: Snow, four inches - A White Christmas !

Jan. 11: Snow, five inches

Jan. 12: Coldest day of the year, 11 degrees below zero

Jan. 14: Sleet, hazardous driving conditions

Jan. 21: Snow, one inch

Jan. 31: Snow, one inch - my nephew's birthday

Feb. 6: Snow, one inch

Feb. 17: Sleet

Feb. 26: First robin, at 10:39 a.m.

March 13: Snow, one inch

March 26: 68 degrees

April 7: Last snow


Paul said...

Don't forget the green ones. Wrap some separately in newspaper, keep in dark place, and you might be able to have a "garden" tomato on Thanksgiving.

And, of course, you need to turn some of them into fried green tomatoes (is there an "e" in the word?), sprinkled generously with parmesan cheese.

Jeff said...

Gardening season is hardly over! It's not too late to plant a few pansies and some cabbage. Since you leave "in town", your particular plot of land will be fully 5-10 degrees warmer than the official temp.s out at the NWS offices. Also, you can throw some winter rye seed which will promote nitrogen repletion in your soil. In the spring (well, late Feb-early March) you pull it up by hand & turn the dirt clods over to further replete your soil.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.