Run, darling! Save yourself! Indoor gardening out of control.

yellow squash threatens neighborhood

Yellow squash leans out window and threatens neighborhood horses

When I read Sunset Magazine, it’s the shaded emerald lawns and rock-path back yards and graceful koi ponds that grab my attention. The ones with the ivy-glazed gazebos and hobbit-sized reading benches, and nary a weed in sight.

Nothing in any magazine could have prepared me for the yellow squash that has taken over the dining room.

Seed packages need information for beginning gardeners

Warning, this squash will eat your sofa

Nowhere on the seed packet did it say “When it grows up, this plant will produce leaves bigger than your average domestic cat.”

No. Nobody would buy yellow squash plant seeds if they said “This squash may inhale your dining room chairs.”

I now believe that seed packages need to have warning labels specifically designed for the new gardener: “Warning. This zucchini will hold your Pomeranian hostage until you distract it with buffalo bones and harness it with razor wire.”

The Edible Exodus Part 2: The Great Potato Migration of 2012

Enough vine action to hide a careful cat!

The potato vine formerly known as dead is now quite alive. What I’d previously thought was dearly departed seems to have revived itself to the point that its vines have taken over about 15% of the dining room.

However, said potato vine has helped highlight one of the downsides of indoor gardening: Indoor bugs.

Last week I mentioned having to exile a rather large flat of starter seeds and seedlings nestled in cardboard rolls due to a cloud of little gnats. Well, multiply that by a few gazillion (ok, dozen) and you’ll see the effect of this potato plant on our indoor peace of mind.

At least these gnats are small and not very energetic. They work up enough power to buzz around feebly before sitting down to rest for a few minutes. They can’t get far. I sympathize – that’s about how I feel most days.

But that minor buzzing-around (and the fact that two of them landed too close to my coffee cup this morning) is enough to exile them to the outer realms of gardenville. So this morning, the newly energetic potato plant got introduced to the Front Porch.

Last I looked, near dusk, the newly exiled still energetic potato vine was winding its limbs around the pots containing the Evecheria and Cousin Bob, having a grand old time trading tall tales about amateur gardeners, and waiting for the rabbits to show up for dinner.

Squash blossoms over long weekend

Big flowers are almost bigger than pot

This is the second sign of actual food production so far. The first was a gathering of barely visible tomato blossoms on the Roma hanging upside down on the patio.

These two showed up curled and looking like any of the leaf buds but then turned into a flower about midway through the day. By this morning (5/29) they had curled up and were looking pretty dang sad. This might have a lot to do with the fact that these very large plants are still living in peat seed starter pots about as big around as one of their leaves.

Which brings up a critical question: I had read that one should never transplant anything in bloom. Is that correct? What transplant guidelines apply to vegetables vs flowering plants?


Household Rebellion, Chatterbox vs Garlic

Wounded yet carrying on

Midafternoon, I heard a bit of a kitty kommotion from the general direction of the guest bedroom which has been pressed into double duty as an afternoon sunroom. Stood up from my desk and came around, across the hall and toward the noise. There stood Chatterbox, backing away from the windowsill as best she could while balancing on a side chair.

One of the three garlic seedlings lay on the ground beneath the windowsill, gasping for breath, trapped beneath an avalanche of Miracle Gro potting soil, and – sadly – the pot itself. I sensed very little signs of life.

“So – what happened..?” me.

Silence from both Chatterbox and the garlic seedling. Chatterbox was choked by guilt, and the garlic was too wounded to respond.

I picked up the vict- er.. plant, and gently pushed it back into position in the potting soil gathered from the (of course it’s pale beige…) carpet. A bit of liquid, a careful trimming of nigh-severed limbs, and this brave soldier, martyr to the cause, returned to its previous post. I moved the chair away from the temptation of the windowsill, retrieved the big ugly loud vacuum monster (Chatterbox’s words, not mine) from its closet, and cleaned up the potting soil mess.

A few minutes later, I peeked around the corner, just to see if the garlic was showing any signs of life. No change, but Chatterbox had taken up vigil on the guest bed, glaring balefully in the direction of the snitch– er.. garlic.

I picked up the severed garlic stem and held it beneath her nose. She sniffed, perked up, and bit into it with vigor. Then just as vigorously, she stopped biting at it and wrinkled her nose in disgust.

Sometimes a cat’s gotta do what a cat’s gotta do. But somehow I think that’s the last time she’s gotta do garlic.