Here are tonight’s big happenings in the dirt outside the window.
Captain Wing has persuaded the smokers at the smoking bench to donate their cigarette ends for a good cause, as one of the ingredients in a batch of tobacco slug repellent. He’s going to spray it only on the outside wall of the raised bed, because crawling up the wall is the preferred slug method for entering the garden. My own vote for safety’s sake would be that soaked nicotine solution sounds pretty potent, and we amateurs should not spray it on slugs or anybody else. But Captain reads up on this sort of thing and knows how to handle it safely, so that will be his research & development department. He just hand-picked 15 slugs from the roses at sunrise, so he is all motivated and qualified for this.
In related developments, I roped Mr. I. into roping the lavender. The lavender plants are doing so well that one of them is now six feet wide and splitting down the middle. So Mr. I. volunteered to hold up a triple armful of flowers while I skittered around with a bunch of old shoelaces tied together and managed to brace the whole cloud of it up to a bamboo post. This was very nice of him because the lavender was full of bumblebees, but they were too tranquilized with lavender fragrance to even care.
After watching all that, Mr. I’s cat decided that I might be a safe person, or at least a fragrant one, and for the first time ventured closer. While I crouched down in the lavender and pretended to ignore him, Kitty gave me a good sniffing over. Maybe some day we will be friends.
Last night I chopped up and cultivated three fresh new strips and planted a heap of calendula and marigold and collard seeds from the Goodwill thrift shop seed sale. Today the squirrels saw all that fresh soft dirt. They figured that someone must have buried acorns there, so they charged right over to search for them. That was actually pretty clever on their part.
Mr. G. decided to crush up a bunch of eggshells for his tomato plants, so we are all waiting to see how the tomatoes like that.
Mr. P’s potted lilies are a wild success this year. At sunset they have a wonderful romantic show-stoppy scent that stops people right in their tracks on their way to the garbage dumpster or laundry room.
Celery & leek harvest is done. Every time I buy celery or leeks I cut off the bottom few inches and root them in water and plant them outside. The celery has tiny white baby’s-breath type flowers, and the leeks have nice puffball flowers on leggy stalks that last a very long time. Anyway they got so tall that they toppled over, so now they are on the balcony drying out for soup stock.
Neighbor M. taught us that honeybees really enjoy having access to both fresh and salted water. So she has set out lots of little dishes of water, some plain and some with salt, all around the garden wall. Each dish has a stick or stone so the honeybees can enjoy their sip & dip and then get themselves back out and fly away safely.
Mr. N. came over to ask whether I ever practice my Russian any more. I said “Sure, I’m practicing Russian right now,” and reached in my pocket and pulled out my cell phone, which happened to be playing Akathist chants by the monks at the Valaam Monastery. He liked the sound of the monks very much, and freely credited organized religion for at least coming up with some nice ritual music.
Back in Research & Development, Mr. Wing has tracked down the perfect organic compost, and finished spraying all of our plots. His stringent testing on two sets of ginger plants indicate that after 10 days the treated ginger will grow 50% taller, so what’s not to like about that. Maybe we will get bigger slugs, and they will be easier to see sooner. The formula for this organic garden mix sounds supremely healthy, so I told Mr. Wing that I will take a pinch of it to add to my next batch of daikon radish kimchi. Mr. Wing was deeply concerned by this until I explained New Yorkers and our sense of humor, and then he found it pretty funny.
Last autumn Mr. Wing loaned me his flower planter and nasturtium vine to keep in my studio. On Christmas it actually had a little flower on it. This year after months of experimenting with optimal nasturtium growing conditions here & there, Mr. Wing found that the nasturtium in the pot grows much better than all the other nasturtia that are just roving free with their little feet in the dirt. So now he is fighting off squirrels, bunnies, and of course slugs from the planter, and is going to loan it to me again for this Christmas. This week the sunset imparted a nice backlighting, so I slid along the dirt on my stomach through the tomato plants and succeeded in snapping this picture below. Whether the vine grows this Christmas or not, we’ll still have the photograph.
There is something significant about this wacky garden. It’s not the flowers, and certainly not the harvest; we’d save plenty of time and money buying our carrots at the grocery store across the street like normal Americans do. No, the remarkable part is that these are people with major family responsibilities and jobs and pandemic stress and health issues and relatives in distant countries to care and worry about, plus a blogger who wakes up every day feeling discouraged and despondent. But folks still show up daily at sunset to talk over bags of laundry and garbage and to crush egg shells and tie stuff up with shoelaces and sniff lilies and pet cats and donate cigarette butts and hear Russian monks sing their hearts out to the Virgin Mary. It’s just the way it is.