Norbert’s Garden Notebook

When it comes to bookish memories, Norbert Bransby, the veteran-surfer turned programmer-gardener and inventor of the P.C. [purple cabbage] always tops my list. Maybe it’s the fun dialogue or the fact that he gets away with being unapologetic and difficult. Maybe it’s the beach vibe or his working knowledge of pentail tree shrews. Whatever the reason, he’s inspired my garden notebook.

Like Norbert, there’s nothing particularly fancy about the posts here, just the scribbling of various things I’ve observed concerning all the edible plants I have attempted to grow to date. There were successes, surprises, failures, drama. It’s more for my records than for anything else, though I sincerely hope it helps you in your own green adventures. If there’s one thing of which Norbert always reminds me, it’s that life is fragile and could use some care.

Basil: attacked by fuzzy caterpillar

Beans, Lazy Housewife: green beans if picked early; hard red beans if picked late; attacked by stinkbug; grew to approx 5 meters; success depended on location (faired poorly in certain spots)

Broccoli, Hybrid Star 2204: HUGE plants; attacked by white cabbage moth, aphids; goes to flower in late July regardless of how big the plant is (bigger blooms from plants started earlier); produces yellow flowers if left unpicked; blooming flowers loved by bees

Cantaloupe: destroyed by pickleworm

Carrots, Chatenay Karoo: sandy soil; attacked by aphids; carrot was often smaller than expected (patience); requires proper spacing of the really tiny seeds or weird shapes result

Catnip: attacked by aphids; why did I even grow this (I do not have cats)

Cauliflower: HUGE plants (need lots of space between); attacked by white cabbage moth, aphids (assorted), fuzzy caterpillar; well worth it if the plant survives; small plants trampled by fat birds performing mating dance

Celery: flowered in December

Chili: appears to go dormant in the winter (cut back) and regrows in summer; loves compost; peppers can be picked and dried; old plant

Corn: promiscuous, need to plant a lot of stalks to produce proper corn husks; attacked by green stinkbug; historically they tried to grow corn here, didn’t work out; opted for grapes instead.

Cucumber, Ashley: liked sun; destroyed by pickleworm

Dhania (Coriander): gets bushy; grow either for seed or leaves, flowered late July

Fig: cut back, lost leaves in winter, doubled in size in summer; early fruit drop; appears to love compost. Chopped entirely to the ground after two tree borers were discovered cutting into the base of the tree (looked like maggots wiggling around in a bloody wound), also it was in a bad spot. Another tree grown in a different location.

Garlic & Leek: No comments as of now

Lemon: decent harvest in April/May-ish; yellow leaves (?), beware of thorns, hasn’t borne fruit since first harvest, attacked by wooly aphids, surviving

Lemon Balm: smells nice

Lettuce (Baby Leaf): attacked by aphids

Millet: stalks picked and given to birds before it could go to seed

Mint Chocolate: smells nice

Olive: still small

Onion: flowers prettier than expected; seeds planted in May produced small bulbs by December, grew nicely over winter; small plants trampled by fat birds performing mating dance; onions grown from cuttings disappeared from garden while small, eaten by mouse is suspected

Oregano: deep rooted bush, difficult to move

Parsley, Moss Curled & Plain: need to come up with more ways to use parsley if grown again

Passion Fruit: large vine; appears to love compost; fruit more sour than it should be; home to a family of chameleons and a lizard

Peach: still small

Pear: flowered before leaves came in November-ish, followed by leaves & fruit, really unsure when it’s supposed to be picked

Peas, Greenfeast: produced peas in September; need to plant a lot of plants to get a lot of peas

Pepino Dulce Melon: produced one small melon 

Pepper, Green Bell: attacked by aphids

Peruvian Ground Cherry: large bush, big harvest; unusual taste; fruit must be unwrapped

Pineapple: removed from garden before fruiting

Pineapple Sage: smells nice; big bush; hot pink flowers; attacked by ant

Spinach: planted with lettuce

Strawberry, Alpine: smaller, sweeter strawberries than average; destroyed by slug, cockroach; produced a ridiculously small harvest while infested; needs protection

Sugar Herb: died in winter

Tomato: grew to several meters with homemade drip irrigation and support strung sideways along a white wall; destroyed by red spider mite; grows like mad in summer, still fruiting in winter