After a Week Away, A Green Day in the Garden

August 17, 2010 § 3 Comments

Sonoma sunshine

We returned home for a day from our week in Sonoma before heading back out again to Honolulu for our fifth and final wedding of the year. The absolute first thing I wanted to do when we arrived home was tromp out to check on the garden. I nearly leapt out of the car when we pulled into the garage.

I had watered minutes before we left for Sonoma and had closely monitored the weather on and via reports from friends who’d come up to visit us from San Francisco. But after a week away, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I steeled myself for the worst: wilted dahlias and mesclun, apples bruised and scattered on the ground, bites chomped out of my strawberries and chard, and completely dead tomato plants. While I thoroughly enjoyed our sunny week in wine country, I have to admit I awoke each day with a thin thread of anxiety in my belly, wishing I had a garden-cam and finally understanding why gardeners don’t go on vacation in the summer.

Luckily, and my friends had been accurate: the week had been in the 50s-60s, so there was no heat to fry my plants, and the critters appeared to have kept their appetites at bay.

The fungicide I sprayed on the jalapa pepper and tomato plants right before we left halted the insidious spread of mold on the pepper and Early Girl tomato, but the Juliet tomato is still beleaguered by soggy leaves, and none of the plants look particularly healthy.

A mold-infested Juliet cherry tomato leaf

Somehow, the jalapa is still producing flower buds and the tomatoes are still ripening, but as Molly at the garden center said, it may be their last-ditch effort at survival. Sad times. Especially since the Juliet tomato I sampled today had a lovely flavor that would translate well into tomato sauce, though its banana-like texture is not going to make it a favorite in salads.


The tomatoes are still trying

The strawberries were a mixed bag. A couple of berries had ripened but then had molded (the flip side of cool, moist weather not killing your plants through dehydration is that it apparently kills your fruit). But the plants are still vigorous and producing tangles of berries. I can tell that a few of those berries will reach peak ripeness while we’re gone. Ahh, well. Citizens of our garden: They’re my gift to you.

Strawberry gang


Any plant that is primarily green and leafy, however, continues to thrive. Every time I go away, regardless of the time span, the chard and artichokes somehow grow exponentially.

Swiss chard doing its thing

I feel as though the chard and artichokes’ success is trying to drill into me the lesson that if you plant what’s meant to grow here, you will be rewarded.

Artichokes' commanding presence

The dahlias, though planted in plastic pots and without access to much sun, seem doggedly determined to survive as well. Slowly but surely, they’re forming their second set of flower buds now that the first group has bloomed brilliantly (and been lopped off by yours truly once they died).

Dahlia flower bud, part two


Despite the foggy weather (maybe there was an afternoon of intense sunshine just in the Noe Valley microclimate?), the arugula in our mesclun patch went to seed. One flower is in full bloom while an array of fuzzy buds is preparing to open. I hear that arugula blossoms are tasty additions to salads, so I’ll have to try that when we get back.

Arugula flower

The first set of coriander seed pods have formed amidst a profusion of cilantro flowers.

Coriander seed pods

Now that I know, thanks to Applewood Inn, the intense flavor that the blooms provide, I’m excited to use a few in cooking while patiently waiting for the rest to transform into seeds.

Delicate cilantro blooms

I’m hoping I’ll be as lucky after week two away from home. Cross your fingers for me!


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§ 3 Responses to After a Week Away, A Green Day in the Garden

  • […] Luckily, one of my readers shared with me that the arugula flower photo in one of my posts inspired her to use blooms from her garden to create sculptural arrangements for her office. […]

  • mai truong says:

    What a great picture of cilantro flowers, they look beautiful! When you sample them in your cooking, please share a recipe (and maybe a suggestion of where we may get the blooms if we are not blessed with a garden of our own)! Also, I have a fantastic chard recipe that I recommend when you are ready to consume the bunches that have grown enthusiastically even in your absence. Tastiness awaits :).

  • Sally White says:

    Reading your adventures make me smile!

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