Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Containers of FDPG

FDPG's homemade hypertufa
Today FDPG and I did a photo shoot of all her container gardens, in preparation for her 4H record book work, and despite the weird summer we've had so far they didn't look too bad. Thank goodness none of her containers feature the Solanaceae family in any starring role, because our tomatoes and peppers are not faring well this summer.

The worst bit was when we were uploading the photos on iTunes and I accidentally clicked on a photo of some Tigerellas from last year. Dripping with fruit, they were. It was enough to make me slightly maudlin, especially the photo of the scarlet runners draping over the lemon arbour. They were indecently rampant with blooms and beans. I was affronted, to be perfectly honest. They are not being indecent in the least this year. There's far too much self-restraint going on out there.

 This pot thankfully has no idea that it's in the middle of a terrible summer. One side are the marigolds we grew from 2 year old seed (they reverted to a giant marigold I've never seen before but prefer in many ways because of their bushiness) and on the other are three cucumber plants with lovely lush leaves and perfectly formed cucumbers all along the length of the vines. I'm using driftwood to guide the vines. So far so good: aesthetically pleasing AND practical.

 This shot was taken for the frontispiece of her 4H record book. She's added captions and titles and it looks quite charming. I like the fact that my trusty old watering can has a happy new life as a kale slash basil planter.

FDPG's old fishy watering can is hosting a marigold with Amazonian ambitions.Vigorous, those marigolds.

That gray trough on the right is another hypertufa creation. I'm rather attached to all this hypertufa: it weathers well and doesn't require as much water as I thought it would. Plus the herbs love growing in it.
 See - now this is yet another indication that our summer is weird: we still have sweet peas blooming. August and the sweet peas are as fresh as if it were June.

Nuts, this weather is.

(I know, I know, I'm starting to sound like Yoda. If only I were as prescient as he was and I could figure out what the hell happened to my miserable tomatoes)
 On the other hand, we've discovered a new fascination with the humble zinnia. Look at this one: I dropped a large pot of unhappy tomatoes on them and they didn't even blink. Now that's what I call a workhorse of a plant.

In the background is some comfrey, which I've chopped down three times so far this summer, to make some Super Powerful Super Cheap Super Stinky Fertilizer Tea. I got this idea from Mark Diacono's charming Veg Patch. He warned me that it would emit an odor like nothing I've ever smelled before. Sadly he was right. Truly awful, it is.

The jury is out as to whether it works better than fish fertilizer but I'm enough of a skinflint to take a chance on it.

 Another oddity is this lemon verbena, which is happy as a clam. I've chopped it down four times and look - rampant as all get out. Not quite indecent yet, but I'm okay with that.

 Our container zucchini is doing its best to, err, perform. I can see a certain indecency in all that growth, can't you?

We've had 10 zucchinis off the two plants in this oak barrel. The variety is Astia, by Renee's Garden. It's a quick maturing plant.

I won't say anything about the wilting Yellow Pear tomato, though.

Nothing at all.

Nope. Not a word.

Finally, a charmingly crooked metal bucket, full of oregano, chives, and geraniums. It's keeping company with the Seckel pear which seems to have withstood the rust that doomed its friend the Louisebonne Pear a few years ago. Hopefully it heard me when I said I was not approving of pears that get rust regularly.

Sad but true, I am, I confess, not tolerant of rust-prone plants. I used to be, but no more. After moving the Louisebonne seven times in two years in a vain attempt to avoid rust only to discover that it also suffered from constant incomplete pollination (sounds like it needed an adult diaper, doesn't it?), I hurled it into the Weed Landfill at the end of the yard where it died over the winter, no doubt crushed by my lack of commitment.

So there you have it - FDPG's container garden saga. No Valkyries or one-eyed gods, but I did my best to liven it up a little. Funny what goes on when the summer drags a bit.

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