Sunday, November 21, 2010

october 9, 2010 - spa day

Some of the tomato plants have not yet received the memo about fall.
October 9 was unseasonably warm. The combination of the clear, angled light of autumn and the warmth of early summer was exhilarating. People spilled outside, wearing the light clothing that they had yet to pack away: pleasantly betwixt, taking nothing for granted.

A large number of volunteers visited the garden on this morning. A group from Chicago Cares joined our regular group of DePaul volunteers. With so many willing workers around, the garden enjoyed the horticultural equivalent of a spa day: a full mani/pedi, facial, seaweed wrap—and even a little Rolfing.

The harvest took little time to collect, weigh, and package. I delivered our produce to the pantry, dazzled by stark combinations of gold and azure along the bike path.

The other volunteers threw themselves into a variety of gardening tasks. Some worked on the beds in which we grew this year’s crop of carrots, squash, and eggplant, composting spent plants and turning the soil with our large garden fork. Some saved seeds from daikon radishes, while others thinned seedlings from our final crop of French Breakfast radishes.

The soil in the northeast corner of the carrot bed did not yield easily to the fork.

Saving daikon seed can be tedious-even with cookies.

Plastic kitty-litter boxes make for surprisingly good weeding buckets.

We were surprised this year by the growth of one of our young fig trees, especially when the sapling bore fruit. The fruit appeared too late in the season, so we were unable to harvest them. Dave explained that a fig fruit is actually a modified flower cluster called an inflorescence. We cut open one of the fruit/stems and examined the tiny flowers that lined the inner chamber. 
Cross section of pre-Newtonian fig, showing peduncular tissue surrounding stamens. It's not every day that one gets to make a physics joke in a botanical note--probably a good thing. It's probably also good not to have many occasions to use the word "peduncular".