Growth of Epic Proportions

There are several alternative titles to this post, namely:

  •  “What Was I Thinking?!!”
  • “If I Knew Then What I Know Now”
  • “If Everything Is Growing, Why Is My Brain Shrinking?”
  • “It’s a Fact: Size Matters”
  • “Honey, I Blew Up the Garden”
  • “Jurassic Park Dinosaurs, Meet Your Match”
  • and “Why Me?”

Obviously, even the list is growing.

You see, I’ve done it again. I got a creative, eager bug (no pun intended), an idea quite simple in concept, and then I once again found myself in the middle of a major ordeal.

The pond is an example. I found free rocks and came up with the idea of a pond. Months of back-breaking work later, we finally finished the project. Simple idea. Ordeal to deliver.

Goldfishwithlily.jpgHere’s another one – my first and only mosaic (Edit: Okay, this is no longer true). That’s the Pennybacker bridge here in Austin – also known as the 360 bridge. Took me about two months to make. I really need to learn to stop undertaking big projects I know practically to completely nothing about doing. Oh, but then I’d have to stop gardening. Moving on!

360mosaic.jpgEven my “simple” act of finding a wonderful man to marry and raise a family with… Did he tell me ahead of time that he came from a family of 10+-pound children? Guess where I learned that whopper? In the hospital, after having giving birth to our first child, a 10 lb-4.5 oz whopper of a boy with the biggest feet the nurses had ever seen. (Currently he’s in a size 13 shoe and not even a teenager yet).

ACbed07-03-09.jpgAh well, at least my son has become an excellent soil digger, when he’s not complaining about the work and the heat and… I digress. But that kid fits nicely into today’s blog saga about crazy gigantic growing things. (The bed in the picture is in progress, btw – eventually the bricks, outlining the shape, will go away and we’ll have plants + decomposed granite path.)

Last week my youngest son (since you might be wondering, he was more than 9 pounds at birth) and I decided that we wanted to grow our own jack-o-lanterns this year. The same day, he helped me scoop out the seeds of a cantaloupe, and we decided we’d try to grow them, too. After all, I had some empty beds I was waiting to plant until fall, anyway, and some I needed an excuse to work on. Besides, I wasn’t worried – my last purple coneflower seeds and two rounds of sunflower attempts didn’t work, so my chance of getting any seedlings from such fresh cantaloupe seeds and potentially old pumpkin seeds was surely low.

gardenbarseeds07-09-09.jpgOh, and while I was at it, I thought, I’ll try two other types of sunflower seeds. Oh, and look, here are butterfly flower seeds! Oh, and white swan coneflower seeds! Oh, and look at the cute little swallowtail caterpillars on this fennel. I’ll buy some fennel, and some parsley so the caterpillars can have a yummy salad. And I get to try out my little garden bar I just bought off of craigslist for a new potter’s bench! Woot, what a good gardener I am!

<face palm>

gardenbarseedsb07-09-09.jpgI planted the seeds on Sunday. I ran out of little planters and resorted to cups I’d had in the cabinet for years. And I finally found a use for the hundreds of chopsticks we’d accumulated over the years from the occasional take-out – labels! But to my horror — within two days -TWO DAYS – of planting my seeds, I already had sprouts.

pumpkinseedlingc07-09-09.jpgAnd not just little tiny barely-poking-out-of-the-ground seedlings – these seem to be sprouts ready to take over the planet. I swear they are growing before my eyes!


pumpkinseedlingb07-09-09.jpgSo I rushed to Google exactly what I’ve gotten myself into with the pumpkin and cantaloupe and other plants. Oh my – 15- to 40-foot pumpin vines? One plant needs 100 square feet of space? Noooooooo. The package said nothing about that. Honey, we a bigger garden bed – about the size of the whole backyard! And we have a big yard, mind you. Suddenly our simple idea has led to yet another huge project.

cantaloupeseedling07-09-09.jpgThe sunflowers shocked me by growing as well. The Endurance sunflowers, listed as “Rare” – popped out on Day 2 with the pumpkins. The Maximillian sunflowers are also sprouting. I thought my butterfly flowers already were, but I was confused – it was another sunflower. According to the package (and the white swans), they have another two weeks or so before I need to worry about them. At least they’ll give me time to get the monster vines in the ground. (Did I just hear a butterfly flower seed open in response?)


maxsun07-09-09.jpgAnd my cute little caterpillars? Doubled in size overnight. They are running out of fennel, and they seem to have no interest in the parsley. I see more tiny little baby swallowtail caterpillars have also hatched (and are growing!). I’m going to have to hunt down some more fennel or try carrot tops or something. Argh.

swallowtailcatb07-09-09.jpgDon’t be fooled by the parsley — that cat is on fennel!

And what is this little white mop-like creature? I hope it’s a good guy, not a little pesty thing. If you can ID it for me, I’d be grateful! Note: It’s a good guy, though not native to the states: Mealybug Destroyer (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri). Eater of aphids and mealybugs and other little pests!


Well, that’s how it grows, I guess (bad pun intended, lol).

I really think I need a new blog category to accommodate this and all future entries about my horrible inability to think ahead. Today’s post will be the first in “What was I thinking?” category.  I should also add that I’m horrible at chess. And apparently when I endearingly called my son Pumpkin in his younger years, I was way more on target than I thought.


5 thoughts on “Growth of Epic Proportions

  1. Well, I must say, inadvertent projects or not, at least you have the stamina to stick with ’em until they’re done. I cannot count how many times I’ve started projects to back down once overwhelmed. Worst case scenario – give seedlings away to unsuspecting friends 🙂

  2. Hillarious post! 1) Regarding the size of your children — ouch!; 2) I love your mosaic!; 3) Better get busy planting — NOW; and 4) white caterpillar — definitely bad. It’s a hornworm caterpillar that will attack your tomatoes and such. However, if it has eggs on its back, leave it alone because those will hatch into brachnoid wasp larvae and will eat the caterpillar. The wasps are good — they actually look like little flies or sweatbees — and will eat bad bugs. Janet

  3. did you ever find out what the little white caterpillars on your fennel were? i have several on mine and haven’t been able to find anything about them on line.

    • Hi, Kyle. Yes, those mop-like creatures are actually the larval stage of a beneficial insect commonly called Mealybug Destroyers (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri). In addition to eating mealybugs, they love aphids — thank goodness, as I have plenty of those. Mealybug Destroyers aren’t native to the states — they were introduced from Australia to help eat pest crops. Thanks for bringing this post to my attention — I’ll update the entry to show the name.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*Comments -- now with more math!* *