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What's the plural of "conundrum"?

10/27/2008 -
Conundrums? Conundra? Things that make you go "hmmm"?

Whatever you call a group (a gaggle? a murder? a flock?) of unexplained garden phenomena, it sounds like many of us around Lafayette have had similar ones.

If it was so bloody hot all summer, why weren't there any good tomatoes?

Why did the green beans not start producing until practically October?

Why did my vigorous, beautiful persian melon vine grow 25 huge melons and not ripen a single one of them?

Who ever heard of a zucchini that under-produced? I got literally no summer squash this year.

Has anyone discovered a landscape plant that turkeys won't eat?

Seriously, it has been a season of late-bloomers, photosynthetic slackers, underachievers, and disappointing ROI. The Satsuma plums i wait for literally all year were sparse and mealy. The fig tree never set fruit (until about 5 days ago! go figure) -- neither did the passion fruit vines. Birds got every one of my grapes a week before i would have picked them. Deer molested my hachiya persimmon to a state of quasi-dormancy. The 13 "cute" "baby" turkeys that have been roaming the neighborhood since spring are no longer babies, no longer cute, and they have become hell-bent on pulling everything in my front yard up by the roots. I phoned Orchard Nursery and asked them what I could do to discourage the turkeys. Advice: "Get a paint ball gun. Oh, and freeze the paint balls first."

Yeah.

It's not all disaster, of course -- I've gotten a small but gorgeous crop of pomegranates (not enough to share, but next year I wouldn't be surprised!), and the herb garden has been terrific... nothing beats being able to walk outside and snip epazote leaves for quesadillas, thyme and parsley for compound butter, shiso and thai basil for asian dishes. In fact, I officially recommend Thai basil as a plant that everyone should have in their herb garden. My single plant has produced so much foliage that i took a HUGE bouquet of branches down to Metro and donated them to the chef (everyone in the restaurant was squealing about how fabulous it smelled). It has grown 5 feet tall, with thick woody stems and a continuous profusion of new leaves. It's delicious, intensely aromatic, pretty, pest-proof (as far as i can tell) and at almost-November it shows no signs of slowing down, long after the genovese basil has bolted and died.

So, we're trying to regroup. carrots, beets, parsnips, broccoli, brussels sprouts, greens, and potatoes have gone into the ground and we're hopeful the winter crops will perform better than the summer ones. we're trimming, pruning, weeding, and getting ready for our not really so dormant dormant season.

Now -- I cannot help noticing that it is nut season around here. Any of you who have walnuts or chestnuts in your yards that you do not intend to use -- please consider me available to process them! I've been noticing a lot of nut trees along Happy Valley Road that appear only to be fodder for ravens. If you are similarly beset with squirrels and can't stomach the thought of cracking another walnut... give a shout and a friendly neighbor will take them off your hands (harvesting and all, if you want -- I don't mind!). I can even return some of them to you in a preferred format, such as homemade brownies or chestnut soup. Just say the word.

We've been amazingly terrible at developing our food sharing concept in the last few months, but while chronically overwhelmed I have not given up on the idea. Keep in touch and let's plan another morning get together before the holiday season takes us over. And for now, if you have something to share or are looking for a neighbor who does, reply to this list!

Happy Halloween

Amy