Early on, the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) settled on what she felt was a reasonable allocation of duties regarding our summer garden.
She accepted full responsibility for harvesting and distributing the fresh, tasty veggies to friends and neighbors and modestly accepting the lavish thanks and accolades her gifting generated.
Unbeknownst to me, I had passively volunteered to handle all other aspects of the garden, especially those involving dirt, bugs, heat, weeding, pruning, fertilizing and so forth.
Max’s role in produce maximization at La Maison de la Gigantesque Tomate was ill defined but seemed to include supervising me and entertaining the AJF.
Thus the matter was resolved.
The two or three people whose lives are so blighted that they actually read this silly dog blog will recall that, back in early Spring, I invested considerable time, money and parts of my anatomy building veggie cages of wood, chicken wire and aluminum screening in order to protect my crops and frustrate the rapacious rats, possums, squirrels and neighborhood children. (OK, that last one was a lie.)
Well, the cages worked. To date, no creature has penetrated the Plant Fortress and without the depredations of the usual evil animals and insects, the vegetables have been gorgeous.
We’ve grown two types of Japanese eggplants. First is the “Ichiban” variety, which grows a slender, pale purple eggplant about 30 cm long that just begs to be grilled with miso/garlic sauce. The second is a variety called “Millionaire” which is dark aubergine, with very thin skin and perfect for pickling.
Both our Summer Dance and Suhyo cucumbers have already produced delicious fruit that is crisp and seedless and excellent when served as Japanese sunomono – chilled and sliced cucumbers marinated in rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
The bell peppers have been a bit of a disappointment, especially the Japanese thin skin version. We’ve only bagged a couple so far and prospects for a late Summer crop are dim. Offsetting the unproductive pepper plants are our tomatoes which have simply gone insane this year.
One tomato plant is now about 2 meters tall and bumps against the top of its 8 foot cage. That plant has been yielding about 5 ripe fruit daily, hence the donations to friends and family. Two other plants are less productive but promise to be big bearers in the next few weeks.
Earlier this year we had a reasonably good harvest of kabu, a type of sweet, crunchy Japanese turnip and a very poor showing with daikon, the long white radish that was afflicted by a too short cool Spring before the onset of Summer heat.
Then there are the hotter-than-the-hinges-on-the-gates-of-Hades Thai peppers, a patch of green onions, and herbs including basil, rosemary and parsley, all of which are producing satisfactorily.
The downside of the cages is that the usual pollinators of the vegetables are unable to enter. That’s no big deal for eggplants. Every eggplant flower conveniently has both male and female organs that self-pollinate to produce the fruit. This is why eggplants never get married.
Cucumbers and tomatoes are trickier. Deprived of their usual hot monkey sex, they require hand pollination. In the case of tomatoes one can use an electric toothbrush to vibrate (oh, behave!) the flowers and thereby spread pollen.
With cucumbers, one has to pluck a male flower and then go one by one, rubbing each female flower. I noticed the AJF doing this while making strange vocalizations but I was afraid to ask exactly what she was murmuring. Sounded something like “Blame it on the Bossa Nova, the Dance of Love,” but whatever.
Due to the virus our usual summer road trips were canceled and this has left more time for us to obsess about our vegetables which, if fully allocated all expenses including a living wage for me, would cost about $65 each.
Being a confirmed carnivore, Max doesn’t care about vegetables unless we are talking frozen peas and green beans, or carrot slivers. He’d prefer we venture into cattle ranching or at least install a chicken coop.
Categories: The Dog From Rancho Cucaracha