Monday, June 25, 2007

Overdue plant nerd stuff

The following pictures were taken on June 17th, which was over a week ago. I thought I took more than two pictures of my garden. Apparently not.
This is either a Metasequoia growing two blocks from my apartment (on University property...I don't actually live in a neighborhood where rare trees spring up) or a random other cypress-y thing. I finally started moving in to my new place last weekend. I was happier than most people would be about a tiny, old apartment, the entrance of which requires the ascension of many stairs, which is also in close proximity to some seedy neighborhoods. There is a yard...A YARD. !!!!!!!! There are some sad-looking roses out front and a picnic table out back. Yesterday I went back to move some more stuff in and I met one of the downstairs neighbors. (It is too far from my job to stay there during the week. So, lack of funding in the Pinelands sentenced me to yet another summer of Drinking With My Parents.)
Anyway, both mornings I spent there, I took a walk. It was great. It made me fall in love with my new living situation as if I haven't been living in New Brunswick nearly five years. Walking, instead of driving or riding in a bus, I saw things I hadn't seen before--very pretty old houses with brightly painted shutters or door frames hidden by trees, for example. I have never, as far as I can remember, been to the part of campus that is two blocks away from my apartment in June before, so last week was the first time I saw what it's like. On weekends, apparently, people living on campus and in the neighborhood go walking, running, and Frisbee-golfing. Families take their children to walk through the woods and gardens (um, garden-y areas) of Cook/Douglass campus. But not too many. It's very peaceful and, in most places, beautiful. There are enough people around to feel some sense of quiet camaraderie, but not enough people to notice me petting the Metasequoia by Passion Puddle. I decided, the second morning, that I should take a picture of it. It's one of my favorite trees and I had no pictures of it. And it looks so nice in the summer, with soft, bright green needles. Before leaving New Brunswick, I took some photos.
Not as pretty as a dawn redwood...

Perhaps you remember (my nonexistent readers of last summer AND this summer) the Death and Destruction plot of my vegetable garden. No matter what I plant in this section of the garden, every year, without fail, it dies. I have no idea why. Maybe that big old ivy has something to do with it. (Poor maligned ivy.) So I decided to experiment this summer, using my very vague practical knowledge from botany school. I didn't really know how to implement this, but I feel like I've had it drilled into my head over and over again--legumes are nitrogen-fixers, legumes improve soil, legumes make the soil better. I could just research/Google this, but where's the fun in that? I pulled up some leguminous "weeds" from my mother's lawn (Trifolium, if you care) and stuck them in the Death and Destruction plot. The next day, my grandmere told me that someone she knew (someone's friend's sister's stepson or something like that) planted clovery weeds in his garden ("But he did it in the FALL!") and come summertime or late spring, before planting his vegetables, he would "turn over the dirt". "And he had the best vegetables!"
This summer I have also been using my vague knowledge of these things, and I have been "composting." My mother refuses to allow proper compost on her property, but obsessed with my waste production, I started throwing eggshells, bad lettuce, olive pits, and other planty trash in the unplanted parts of the garden. My mom joined in and dumped in a bag of shallots that she thought were too old to eat. (They were pretty old...like a year or two!) You see the result above. Now, on June 25th, I have counted EIGHT sprouted shallots. So, what may yield the most this summer is something I didn't even intend to plant.
Lunch break is over! Back to work!

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