Everybody out!

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It’s a lovely day here in Linnie-land, and the confidence level of the gardener is high. The birds are singing, the sun is rising and the moon is close by. Let’s plant some stuff.

coalition of lettuce plants

Here is an image of my coalition of baby lettuce plants.

I pondered quite a while regarding which collective term to use for this bunch of plants. Murder, as in a murder of crows, was in the running for a while because of the trouble I anticipate with the lettuce being eaten by tiny varmints once its out on its own, but I also considered scourge (as of mosquitos), nuisance (as of house cats) and a pandemonium (as of parrots).  (I love pandemonium as a word but really lettuce is pretty quiet.)  Then too, a group of gnus travel in an implausibility, and that one really spoke to me if you know what I mean.

But in the end I chose coalition, which is also used to describe a bunch of cheetahs. (You can find lists of these collective terms online and they do vary, but of course I just picked some words I enjoyed to ensure that I have an adequately fun time writing.)

coalition of lettuce

So the coalition of lettuce is now installed in its bed, with the very annoying anti-deer netting over it, and next is the tower of tomato plants. (I considered evicting from the greenhouse the drove of cucumbers, but really I think I would have to issue each of them a blankie first –a horde of blankies– and I don’t want to do that so I’ll wait a little longer for warmer nights because cucumbers are so whiney.)

tower of tomatoesTower of tomatoes.

tomato bed

Planted tower, with a school of onions just beyond.

In the bed above are the determinate tomatoes, which I gather principally means that they grow to a normal size plant and perhaps start producing a little early. Sometimes I hear that they finish early too but I’ve had these sorts of reasonable sized plants continue handing me tomatoes pretty deeply into the summer.

indeterminate tomato

Now here (stand back) is an indeterminate tomato.  This sort of tomato is crazy and has no sense of personal limits at all. You can SEE the outcome of this problem–containment in a tall and secure cage is required to keep this thoughtless giant from wandering across the garden and into the house or maybe out the lane to the highway and then south to Sacramento where it’s heard there’s less rain. (I planted two more of these but they look very similar to this one so just look at this one three times and you’ve seen the lot.)

This particular plant will produce yellow cherry tomatoes.  Perhaps there exist  some determinate varieties of cherry tomatoes, but every one I’ve ever grown was indeterminate-crazy-enormous  so that at the end of the summer you can fuel a wood stove for about a week with pieces of the dried up bush.

flock of garlic

Here is my flock of garlic plants– nothing like the vast one in Dave’s garden but looking pretty well compared to the rust-ridden lot from last year. I bought new seed garlic to plant and I moved the process to a different bed so I’m hoping that the rust spores or whatever are back at the old bed (which is full of onion plants), looking around confused and maybe their eyesight isn’t that good…

And now I would like to lead you out of the vegetable garden, which has potential for a nice dinner but not right away except of course for the rhubarb plants which you may have observed beyond the lettuce coalition and which I will yet again today go chop on for crumble. Let’s look at some other stuff.

along the picket fenceThis is a section of the bed along the picket fence. As a gardener the first thing you may notice is that the fence needs paint. Well don’t look at ME, I painted a quarter of a two-story house exterior last summer remember? And I recently rationalized (or rationalised)  that I find paint falling off of things to be singularly charming and picturesque and I’m not painting anything again any time soon like never.

But I didn’t take the photo to show you the Paint Problem. No. I wanted you to see the beautiful blue verticality of the ajuga, also called Bugle Weed (neither name makes me happy). I think of it as Cute Blue Things and I do wish that after the blooms fade it wasn’t just Dark-leaf Carpet but at least it keeps down the weeds.

Also in the photo, if you look closely, you can see a jasmine vine (Jasminum officinale) supported by my delicately constructed but extremely cunning bamboo trellis,  which stands up against the shabby chic fence just behind the two identical rhododendrons whose names I’ve lost but they never bloom anyway.

Jasminum officinale

I made the trellis by bending a couple of long bamboo canes and filling in with some cross pieces.

I’ve moved the jasmine vine three times in about four years so it is feeling a little nervous and insecure but growing nicely anyway this spring even without being given any mood-altering medications.

trellis archHere is the top of the trellis in graceful and inspired silhouette against the new blue sky –well okay it’s kind of minimal but it seems to be working.

And that’s it from Linnie-land today, friends.

Remember to be brave, garden recklessly and have more fun than most people.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
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38 Responses to Everybody out!

  1. Chad B says:

    Two things: your tomato was right, Sacramento gets a lot less rain this time of year . . . and I agree that there is a certain charm to things when the paint is chipping off. I wouldn’t paint it either.

    • linniew says:

      Yes I think tomatoes in general are smarter than people suspect. And from now on I shall tell anyone who asks that I don’t paint things because Chad says it’s best to not–very nice to have backup on that!

  2. Roberta says:

    I’m very excited about your vegetable garden. I’m not even sure why exactly, maybe it’s just knowing that you will have food available to you soon so you don’t have to slog through the muck and mud to the grocery. It does seem that drier weather is on its way.

    You make excellent gardening decisions. This is evident by the determinate to indeterminate tomato ratio in your beds. I wish I had more determinates but I just have the one that insists on toppling over every time a breeze whistles through the backyard. I regret planting it in a container and not in the earth where it belongs and is no doubt trying to make its way to. Even my poor volunteer, Willie, hugs the earth from time to time.

    What do you use for pest control or do they simply drown? I will try almost anything. I think my okra has passed the doily stage. It’s hard to say if it was the BT, the beneficial nematodes or the rosemary & peppermint oil spray that I purchased. Like I said, I’ll try just about anything to control insects. We are pretty much varmint free (knock on wood). Almost nothing with fur and a spine trespasses into the garden. Except the husband, mustn’t forget the husband.

    Good luck to you! It looks good so far and it’s all very exciting to see!

    • linniew says:

      I like the part where I make excellent garden decisions. Actually I would be happy to think I ever make excellent decisions of any sort. So thanks for that Roberta!

      I don’t recall any bugs on the tomatoes in the past. But deer have chewed on the leaves and Something has on occasion eaten half a ripe tomato now and then, usually the one I had intended to eat for dinner with fresh mozarella and chopped basil. In general I get to eat more cherry tomatoes than anything else, I think because the vines are six feet tall and no other creatures can reach the fruit. (Even our deer are sort of short.)

      I pretty much don’t spray anything, even the aphids on the roses. I am just not that organized. I did buy mercenary ladybugs once for aphid control and they were very cool and moved into the house in the fall and spent the winter on the ceilings then flew out the windows in the spring, very interesting. I think they ate some aphids too but I’m not sure.

      Best regards to Willie. Tell him to stand fast.

  3. andrea says:

    Linniew, i’ve visited your posts in the past but this is the most hilariously amusing post i read. I love the way you write, very funny! I will not ever forget how to describe something like the baby lettuce plants as in a coalition. Now i will always be here, unless you oblige me to pay the rent. Now this made me remember one friend telling me something when i can’t easily learn swimming, that i “should enroll at the School of Fish”.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Andrea!
      Thank you so much for your happy comments, I love them. And I’m pleased to hear I’ve had an adjectival impact on your future descriptions because sometimes we forget that we are in charge of the words and not the other way around. Same with plants only not. Anyway, thanks for reading and for the kind message and I hope you come back very soon to this rent-free zone. -L

  4. b-a-g says:

    Linnie – Thanks for taking us gently by the hand and leading us around your garden.
    A coalition of cos lettuce would be great – it’s my favourite (anyway alliteration is more important than flavour).
    You are the only woman I know who could keep an “indeterminate” tomato plant under control ref: previous posts.
    Looking forward to seeing your trellis covered in jasmine blossoms.

    • linniew says:

      Hi b-a-g
      I had lost your comment but then I found it again– so typical of me I’m afraid. Yes I’ve found that the best defense is a good offense when it comes to rampant tomatoes.

      I will post a jasmine blossom image at the earliest opportunity.

  5. Erin Bechtel says:

    Lennie, how can you write so randomly & have such nice neat rows of veggies? It’s like
    Patting your head & rubbing your tummy at the same time…love it. I would just stick with
    The rhubarb and let the rest go to …. My first link to you was last year when you were in
    Mid-paint, I loved your house the way it was. Oh well, onward to my gardening…

    • linniew says:

      Hi Erin
      I never plant in rows except in the vegetable beds in those rigid boxes. It’s like a factory, as opposed to my flower gardens which are a bit more like a Jackson Pollock painting.

      So nice that you liked my house pre-paint because the north side of it may remain that way forever. I am SO tired of paint.

      I just cut some more rhubarb for tomorrow’s crumble 🙂

  6. David says:

    Your garlic and other young plants all look great! Good luck beating the rust. It’s just wrong that some fungus can attack garlic. Here’s a very sad post by another garden blogger. Spoiler alert, her garlic was doomed! I would cry just like she did if this happened to our allium crops. Our onions, garlic and leeks are the pride of our gardens. Guess I oughta ease up on the pride a little, hmmm?

    Some day we’re going to have a real greenhouse like yours, not just a walk-in coldframe.

    But seriously, you burn dead tomato plants in your stove?

    • linniew says:

      Well you WARNED me but good grief that was one sad post in the link. The garlic rust I had last year didn’t destroy the bulbs. We ate the bulbs. Which might explain some other things, I don’t know.

      So far so good this year, but I’ve heard from some British gardeners that garlic rust can be an annual event in their neighborhood.

      About burning the tomato plants: you aren’t one of those people who believes everything he reads on the Internet, right David?

  7. atemp says:

    You are right about the indeterminate cherry tomatoes, which grow about 8 feet tall even in three hours’ sun and look like a scraggly mess by the end of the summer. But I don’t have the heart to cut them back when they’re still producing bowls full of tangy tomatoes which I have to give to the neighbors.

    Bugleweed has seeded itself all around my garden, but it’s too cute to do much to stop it in its ramblings. It seems to grow where nothing else wants to grow anyway.

    • linniew says:

      Sheila you have accurately expressed the outcome of indeterminate tomatoes. It’s not like they become a huge healthy looking plant. But they do keep producing so their enthusiasm kind of makes up for them looking like they have one root in the grave.

  8. Alberto says:

    Are we sure YOU have not been given any mood-altering medications?! Because Linnie-land sounds very mood-altering medication overdose to me… Please come back to reality (a.k.a. Tillie-land).

    That tomato in a cage is very scary, does it rattle a metal cup on the grid when it’s thirsty? Does it growl? Did anyone report any kind of stalking from him? Does it talk naughty to the lettuces? I am full of questions because we planted some stuff in the veggie garden the other day and I did not know I shall be dealing with cohabitation issues, now that would make me more a building manager rather than a farmer, right?

    (I’ve decided to go with some rhubarb, and then I want your crumble recipe translated from cups and spoons to grams and kilos!) (I hope tomatoes are alright with rhubarbs…)

    • linniew says:

      Okay Alberto. Reality. Tillie-land. I will try.

      You have a vegetable garden? I don’t remember you mentioning it before although it makes such sense with your sunny warm summer even though for some reason it’s not enough for olives… You must post some images. As to the tomato containment issues: I have never heard any tomato speak (naughty or otherwise), rattle, nor have I seen one stalk but then I do kind of limit that with the cage. It’s more like being on guard duty than being a building manager I suppose.

      I’m making rhubarb crumble this morning for a company lunch and I just wish you could be here to have some of it warm with my homemade ice cream on it out on the porch later. But in the meantime do get some rhubarb plants and get those measurements translated (you don’t want me to do it I assure you).

  9. Its all in the presentation. I am sure you got that fence at an architectural salvage place and paid good money so that it would blend into your landscape immediately and not stick out by looking too new. People pay to have furniture and garden objects “distressed” to look old, and you are in the possession of a real gem. Painting is out of the question.

    • linniew says:

      Carolyn I can’t quite express how lovely it felt to read “Painting is out of the question.” In future I shall employ your brilliant rationale to counter even the most oblique reference to the condition of the fence– thank you.

      ps: The lesser celandine burial mound grows…flatter.

  10. Always lovely to visit Linnie land where the smallest little seed is nurtured and cared for. Such diversity and thoughtfulness there, all is safe, all is treasured, am feeling the love…….

    • linniew says:

      Why yes, as you know my dear we are here to offer only comfort and care and the occasional locked cell. (Isn’t it just nice to know there are some things that are dependable in life?)

  11. kininvie says:

    Hello Linnie, Believe it or not, my rhubarb has just been frosted, so no crumble for me. Now I do have to consult you about garlic, becuase it is something I think I ought to grow, really, but when it comes to it, it is rather easier just to go and buy some in the shop, even though by the time they reach Scotland, all the garlic bulbs are very small, because the large ones have been snaffled by people in France and England and elsewhere. I once brought home some elephant garlic from LA, but I don’t suppose that would grow here. And this garlic rust sounds just the sort of thing I can do without. So what do you think?
    PS You need ajuga reptans ‘atropupurea’. Then you get really pretty purple ground cover after the flowers…..

    • linniew says:

      Oh Kininvie you should certainly grow garlic. It is quite easy and even the rust mine had last year didn’t ruin the bulbs. Elephant garlic seems to grow as easily as any so you could have that too. I can just see a lovely stand of garlic leaves in one of those rustic raised beds you have, yes, and then you wouldn’t be left out by all the garlic snaffling that appears to happen in the nearby markets. I hope though that you can buy some rhubarb at the store for crumble– honestly I have never heard of rhubarb being frozen like that–you really need to get a repairman in about your weather, or mediate that problem among the fairy royalty.

      • kininvie says:

        Well I never heard of rhubarb being frozen either….but there you go. That’s what happens if you believe Shakespeare. So, lets suppose I agree to grow garlic…what do I do next?

        • linniew says:

          You need to get some nice heads of garlic in the fall –around the time you are carving a neep for me Kininvie– and break them apart and plant each little clove separately in one of your newly-chinked raised beds rather as if they were tulips. Each little garlic piece will grow a new bulb! The plants come up in the spring, and in summer when the leaves start to die you dig them up and store them in your pantry for use all winter.

          Now some people plant garlic in the spring but I know nothing about that, sorry.

          Where in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is frozen rhubarb actually mentioned?

          • kininvie says:

            Oh come on Linnie, don’t you remember the Titania/Bottom speech? It’s full of frozen rhubarb references – obviously used as a metaphor for ….other things….

            And what kind of garlic should I plant? I don’t want to waste all this effort for miniature cloves. Really I want some huge garlic that hardly needs to be peeled.

            • linniew says:

              Frozen rhubarb references. Not sure I should encourage you here K and I do wonder what you’re drinking tonight.

              Clearly what you need is elephant garlic, since size is quite important in this case– available in the UK here. It will still need peeling I’m afraid.

  12. cynthia says:

    Determinate vs indeterminate tomatoes: I would have thought it referred to their sex, but maybe not. Not sure why my mind went that way . . . our coalition of lettuce has disintegrated due to heat, and we are having to resort to store-bought leathuce (spelling intentional – it’s like leather). Yours looks lovely!

  13. Grace says:

    You know what I call Ajuga? “BuNgle” weed. As in bungle. As in botch, spoil, ruin, fall down or “do-badly” according to WTT or “Word’s Trusty Thesaurus.” Perhaps the name is rather a bit more pejorative than need be but I think it’s funny and from what I can tell, Bungle Weed is hard of hearing and can’t read worth a damn.

    I was wondering if perhaps the mood-altering medications had (mysteriously?) made their way to the curator-extraordinaire of Linnie-Land when I saw the first photo of the tomatoes with those meek tomato cages. “She expects those wobbly things to keep up her tomatoes? But I was pleased to see your wisdom in summoning them strictly for use with the determinate, well-behaved lot. Smart girl.

    Your bamboo arbor/trellis looks great. Ingenuity, my friend.

    Your fence looks perfect just as it is. Paint is WAY overrated. 🙂 Enjoy the sunshine!

    • linniew says:

      I can always count on you, Gracie, for good new words. Bungle Weed. Perfect. I feel we must all do our part to keep the language evolving. Then too “bungle” is an under-used word in general, even while being so applicable to a variety of circumstances in today’s world.

      I am pleased to count you in the ranks of those who recognize the tyranny of paint.

  14. Alistair says:

    Linnie, naming your lettuce set up after our government isn’t so very wise. Did I tell you I was growing tomatoes this year—like I have told everyone else on the planet. I do like yer cute blue thingys and honest I did try my hardest tae ignore yer fence thit needs pintin.

    • linniew says:

      It may be that I have political lettuce. I will let you know if it starts any rebellions or anything. Good luck with the tomatoes Alistair– keep them warm and sunny somehow.

      And I ain’t gonna paint the dang fence–it don’t need no paint to stay a fence so git off yer high horse about it and lemme be. xo L

      • Alistair says:

        You talkin to me. A aint gonna lisen no more, yi hear me now. Go join K before he gits his ass stuck in the mud.

        • linniew says:

          Hmm, you’ve become rather cryptic, Alistair. But really do you expect me to save K from mud?– I might go watch though.

          And I’m not gettin’ no bird-proof hats for either of ya.

          • Alistair says:

            Linnie, I do at times concern myself that my fun comments may seem over the top, Do let me know if this seems the case. I mean some folk may take me seriously, how weird would that be.

            • linniew says:

              No folk around here have that seriousness problem at all Alistair–we are much weirder than and have quite a good time and you’re an important part of it.

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