Noticing the New & the Beautiful: Today’s Garden

July 1, 2010 § 4 Comments

One of the biggest things I’ve learned in this year I’m taking off of work — 6 months into it — is how to notice. It’s amazing to see the little details, whether it’s the slow progress of a tomato plant or the crazy get-up someone is wearing as they march down a sidewalk in the Mission, and to find joy in it all. The world is filled with such beauty and surprise, all ready to revel in if you just pause and pay attention.

There have been many new and beautiful happenings in the last 24 hours in the garden…

The Garden Renovation is Kicking Off

Last night, Tony from Century Tile Custom Installations, the folks who covered our tired old bricks and cement in the front of our house and our back patio with slate and did a gorgeous job of it all, came over to consult on the backyard. He had some great ideas about smoothing out the terraces, creating curves in our extremely angular space and building something that feels like you’re surrounded by nature (instead of crazy neighbors — just as an example). He’s going to send us sketches so we can get this party started!

The Chard Is Up

The chard seedlings I put in a pot — anticipating the ripping up of our backyard this summer — have appeared! You can see the beginnings of the vivid colors the stems will have when they’re bigger: so far, scarlet and lemon yellow. One of the seedling stems pushed the seed hull through the dirt with it…

Chard seedlings (seed hull in bottom left-hand corner)

…and a day later, the seedling has sprouted its first set of leaves, with the hull clinging to the edge. I discovered, after doing some Googling, that sometimes this happens on young chard leaves.

Seed hull clinging to chard seedling leaf

What I’ve learned about chard is that each “seed” is actually a small dried fruit with multiple seeds within it. As a result, they’ll shoot up multiple seedlings that you have to thin to 8-10 inches apart. Otherwise, the seedlings will strangle each other and stunt each other’s growth, and you won’t end up with any sweet chard to eat (similar to beets, which I’ve learned the hard way — more on that in a later post). So I’ll be vigilant over the next few weeks.

The Strawberries Are Vigorous

When I first put the plants in, I read that I should pinch off the first flowers to allow the plant to put its energy into growing a strong “mother plant”, which in turn would produce more strawberries later in the season. I couldn’t quite bring myself to pinch off the flowers that had already started turning into tiny green berries, but I pinched half (or 6) of the plants.

Un-pinched on left, pinched on right

Vigorous strawberry

Well, it seems to be working! The pinched plants are vigorous, with large, glossy green leaves like lily pads, and they’re sending up thick stems with hearty flowers. In comparison, the un-pinched plants look a bit stunted and have produced a total of 7 strawberries to date (not including those devoured by birds and earwigs).

It will be interesting to see how the plants fare through the rest of the summer. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 3 short months of gardening, you really never know what’s going to happen until it does. More on that in a later post too!

The Cherry Tomatoes Are Plumping

The Early Girls look like miniature versions of Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage. They’re so beautiful, even now. I can’t wait until they ripen and redden, and I can’t wait to see how they taste!

Early Girl cluster

Early Girl's gorgeous shape

A Spider Sets Up Shop

A spider did her thing between the basil plant pot and our deck. I had to try to capture the beauty of the morning sun shimmering off this spider’s web — a multi-threaded mirror. Every time I see a spider, I recall Charlotte’s Web, my favorite childhood book. Even then I loved farms and pigs!

Spider glow

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