Lots of gardening in the past couple of days. Go me! I’m participating in the America on the Move challenge with my family, doing the equivalent of walking the Oregon Trail (only not, because it’s a six-week challenge to cover two thousand miles, so there’s some sort of weird distance equivalence they’re doing) and according to it I did the equivalent of 14,160 steps by working in the garden, about seven miles. That seems excessive, and I actually shortchanged myself–that’s two hours’ worth, not the three I actually did–because at this rate I’ll be at the Dalles before the rest of my family has restocked their wagons at Fort Bridger.

Yesterday, I planted some more corn and the last dry beans: Hidatsa Shield Figure around the sunflowers and Mitla Black tepary around the corn. The corn is already knee-high so I should be good for one harvest at least, if folklore has anything to say about it. But I suspect I’ve crowded that corn patch too much–I also put a couple of squash plants on its outskirts, and it’s not arranged in hills; it’s arranged in rows with a little extra space for the squash. We’ll see how it goes. I also put in two more cantaloupe plants, because the others have disappeared. The luffa, behind that patch, are making a valiant effort to survive the flea beetles or whatever’s been eating them. I will watch and hope.

Today, it was warm but not too warm, sunny but not glaring, Eric was off at a gaming party, and I stayed home because there were things I wanted to get done. And did I ever. I:

  • started Long Island Improved brussels sprouts (I found the seeds!), toothache plant, echinacea, and Romanesco broccoli.
  • hilled up the potatoes with the leftover topsoil I had. Nobody in town seems to have straw. I noticed a red-banded leafhopper as I worked.
  • weeded.
  • picked about half the lettuce and almost all the spinach,* except for a few plants I left to go to seed. I decided to leave both the Bloomsdale and the Baby’s Leaf hybrid. It’ll mean a bit of a mess, genetically speaking, but why not? I have a biology degree. Gardening was always going to lead to some sort of involvement in plant genetics. I wish I’d taken more botany now (though I wasn’t as interested in it then). Someday I’ll be doing cool experiments like Rebsie.
  • planted out the Green Goliath broccoli, Snow Crown cauliflower, and Chinese cabbage seedlings that survived the two greenhouse upturnings. (The Romanesco didn’t, and the Sorrento were prematurely flowering.) I’m well aware it’s too hot and they’re almost certainly doomed. But my schedule said to start the seeds last month and I did, and now the seedlings are well grown and need planting, and if these bolt or are bug-eaten I’ll just start more in a couple of weeks here. I’ll adjust my schedule for next year.
  • mulched the perimeters of the herb garden (where there are flowers or hostas or perennial herbs), the cement-surrounded borage bed, and the sunflower bed.
  • put up twine for the cucumbers to climb on, as they’re starting to send out tendrils.
  • decided that I must be under an Ant Curse. The basil (Genovese, Red Leaf, and Mrs. Burns’s Lemon) are finally starting to take off, and while admiring them I noticed a long stream of ants across that bed. And when I was doing the twine, I adjusted one of the stakes, worked on my twine, and noticed this on that stake:

  • found three Swiss chard plants under the flax and lettuce and moved them to a better location. I have Swiss chard after all! I must say I wasn’t missing it, though, since I had the kale.
  • finally moved the onions that sprouted in the herb garden (where I tossed the leftover Walla Walla seeds) to the vegetable garden. I’ve learned my lesson: next year, I’m starting onions indoors.
  • moved the second tomatillo into where the onion patch was supposed to be, closer to the first tomatillo. (That’s also where the onions went, but there was plenty of space. Sigh.)
  • planted the Shasta daisies and Johnny Jump-Ups Carol gave me.
  • redug the herb garden DMZ (the strip between the garden proper and the grass) and spread some extra dirt over it. Eventually I’ll get either some mulch or some paving stones to put there.
  • put stakes into the bed where the Hutterite bush beans are to encourage them to grow tall. I’m going to save seed from the tallest ones and see if I can eventually get a pole variety. They and the Trionfo Violetto beans both have flower buds on them.
  • spread Sluggo around the strawberries. I will harvest whole strawberries from my garden before I leave this house.

*Looking at the spinach plants as I pulled each out and stripped its leaves was fascinating. The main stems are hollow, the morphology of the leaves is beautiful, and funny baby leaves form all up and down in addition to the big main ones. I brought the spinach in and washed it twice and put it in a plastic bag, and then left the bag open on the counter to dry a little before i put it in the fridge. I turned it over and found a huge dead spider in the bottom of the bag. It would also be fascinating if I weren’t phobic of spiders. I’m going to ask Eric to get rid of it for me. I could do it myself, but I really don’t want to, and while I didn’t specifically put “get rid of spiders for me” in our wedding vows, I should have, and he knows it.

Now that I look at the list, that number of steps doesn’t seem so unreasonable. I planned to widen the back fence bed and spread mulch, in preparation for moving the daylilies there later (they’re sending out flower stalks now) and replacing them with raspberries, but by the time I got to it the mosquitos were in full swing. And I planned to move the lilies-of-the-valley from behind the air conditioner to the island, but I forgot, and it was late and I was hungry. My reward at the end of the session was two Big Top carrots, pulled for thinning. They’re still small, but they’re enough for a bite, and they had that homegrown, real-carroty taste. Well worth 14,160 steps.

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