Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Obsession

Lately all I can think about is gardening. I never used to be a gardener… hated the thought of weeding (still do actually). But then I like to cook with fresh herbs, which are expensive and always seem to go bad in my fridge. Seemed like it would be so much better if I had a basil plant…so I bought two plants and some seeds. It's so fragrant when I water...

Now I have two cilantro plants (that look remarkably different from one another), a Serrano chile, a pimento yellow bell pepper, a cucumber, some carrots, lemon balm, thyme, marjoram, oregano, Italian flat leaf parsley, an orange cherry tomato plant and a "lemon boy" tomato plant, cucumber, arrugula, and mescalin. Oh, and I just planted two cloves of garlic… they were trying to grow in my drawer, so I thought I would let them live. Grandma already had (and so now I have) a rosemary bush and a sage bush. I'm thinking I need a mint plant so I can make mojitos. Mmmm.

I recently moved my basil from a pot into the ground (about 3 weeks ago), and at the time there was a little tiny vine starting just behind where I planted the basil. I probably would have pulled it out, but it had just wrapped itself around the trellis that was there, so I left it. Found other tiny new sprouts of the same plant throughout the yard, and in general I left it if it was along the wall, but pulled it out when it was in the middle of the grass. A week later it had grown to the top of the trellis (almost all the way up the wall) and now I see it everywhere. Finally figured out what it is... Morning Glory. It has really pretty flowers so I kinda want to keep it, but it grows like a weed just about everywhere so I'm really going to have to be careful it doesn't take over the yard.

I started two avocado pits too, but I don't think that's going to work out for two reasons. First, Lucas keeps drinking the water. He's allowed outside now (we got him some Advantage, so hopefully that works out), and even though he has a full dish of clean water, he prefers to drink the water out of the avocado pits' cups. So every evening I go outside to water, and the pits are completely dry. The other reason I don't think it's going to work out, is because I don't know what you have to do to graft an avocado tree.

I've been reading up… turns out if you plant a pit from an avocado you bought at the store, the fruit on that tree will not taste as good as the avocado you pulled the pit from. Avocado farmers graft all their trees so they will fruit earlier, but it also changes the flavor. So it looks like if I want an avocado tree, I'll have to get a grafted tree. Turns out my aunt has a buddy that breeds avocado trees for people that are starting new groves for commercial production, so she could get me a good deal on a grafted tree. Now I just have to figure out where I'm going to put it.

But first… I have to figure out where I'm planting my grapes. I bought some grafted grape vines. This time they have to be grafted because of Phylloxera, an aphid-like pest that attacks grapevines. Apparently in the 1860s, a North American grapevine was imported into Europe and some Phylloxera along with it. The European grapevines (basically all the ones that grow wine grapes) are not resistant to this pest (North American vines, which grow edible but not wine grapes, are resistant) and the spread of the Phylloxera throughout Europe wiped out anywhere between 2/3 and 9/10 of commercial vinyards. It was like the black plague for wine. Now they graft the European vines onto North American rootstock so that it is resistant to the pest.

So anyway, I bought some grafted grapevines – a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio), and a Merlot. I'm now picking out spots in the back yard, and thinking about where I'll train the vines to grow. I'd like to train two of them to interlace to cover the brick patio area that is not covered by the patio cover. We don't spend much time over there right now because it gets so hot. So maybe in a few years I can try my hand at making some wine.

Unfortunately I'm going to run out of space. I want an avocado tree, a lime tree, and a fruit tree of some sort (maybe peaches), but I think that would mean I need to take out a tree for each one, and I don't really want to do that. I've got some cantaloupe seeds that I want to plant, I just have to find somewhere sunny enough. Probably the front yard.

The front yard will be a whole new project. There is a succulent garden out there right now, but I've never been too fond of succulents. I like that we have aloe vera for functionality, but that's the only one really. My uncle apprently loves succulents, so he's been by a few times in the last month to pick some plants to bring home with him. Keeps asking me if I care if he takes them. Not only do I not care, they are more his plants than mine. And I'm glad he's taking them... less for me to clear out later.

But right now I'm focused on the back yard. When they were working on the patio cover they kept piling stuff on the grass, so it wasn't getting watered. Then when that was done, Gma was getting sicker, so no one was paying attention to the grass, and it wasn't getting watered. So over time it got really dry and thin. But for the last 3 weeks or so Bobby and I have been watering almost every morning and evening and it's starting to look so much better. We still have some large bare spots, and some crabgrass, but we're working on it.

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