Friday, September 22, 2023

Garden Friday



Welcome to Garden Friday!
Autumn is finally here,
and you'll find no one more excited about that than yours truly.
Fall is such a great time to be in the garden,
whether it's sowing cool weather crops or picking what nature has provided to enjoy inside.

Sweet potatoes were harvested this week.
We got 14.5 pounds, which isn't bad, 
considering we planted only one small bed.

The tubers in this crop were smaller than in past years,
and they seemed to grow more in clusters, instead of individually.
The slips were started in February,
so this was a long process from seed to table.

They will cure in the garage for two weeks before being sampled.
We're using a hitch-haul and the bifold door that I use to use at the Market.

Some time was spent earlier in the season on planting the front flower beds.
I've added quite a few things and seeded many zinnias.
In fact, they grew so big,
that the evergreens and grasses behind them are well hidden.

Every morning when I open up my curtain,
I look down into this beautiful display of flowers and busy pollinators.
I even noticed a goldfinch eating bugs off of the milkweed!

The zinnias just went wild with the rainfall we got.
They are filling in the front bed so wonderfully.
Seed saving continues,
with flower seeds and dried beans making their way into our stash for next season.
It's a tranquil and fastidious task
that can be savored with the anticipation of future harvest.

The Seminole pumpkin has grown outside of its bed.
It's still too early to know if fruit will show itself,
but we'll leave it be for now.

The Piggot peas have started producing,
and I'm curious to learn more about them.
This is a new crop for me,
but so far, they have been easy to grow.
We're even getting some late-planted cucumbers coming up.

We've got visitors, folks!
Although we were not blessed with Monarch caterpillars this year,
a few black swallowtails were spied on the Rue.
This no-fuss plant is one of the host plants for this species.

What wonders have the fall season brought you?

Friday, September 1, 2023

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday.
It's been a quiet scene at our homestead
with two of the three members of our family
coming down with what we think was surely COVID.
It laid us out for a full 10 days,
so there wasn't much to report.
Thankfully, we are well on our way back to health. 
tastes like zucchini!

great for cleaning once dried and peeled
The loofah is creating a wonderful amount of shade in the chook run,
and the pollinators are relishing the bounty of nectar.
The fruit is hanging from the vines in various stages.
I'm planning on picking a few of the small loofah
for fresh eating.
The larger ones will be dried on the vine
and given away to be used as scrubbers.

Another volunteer something or other is getting started.
It looks like a pumpkin, but it's too early to tell.
The last time something like this volunteered,
I thought it was watermelon,
but it turned out to be a pumpkin.
It's always fun to spy the female flowers
and guess at what it may become.

We do have a few Kajari melons coming along.
I had pretty much given up on these doing anything,
but here they are surprising me once again.

The Piggot peas and cukes are doing nicely,
thanks to a few downpours we've had in recent days.
These were transplanted around the 10th of August.
It's still hot and humid, so we may still get some fruit.
We've had over an inch of rain so far this week,
after three weeks with nary a drop.
More storms are on their way,
with a cooling in temperatures on the horizon.
We are ready for it!

The Seminole pumpkin seems quite content,
and was transplanted around the same time as the Piggot peas.
Once the rain hit, it took off like nobody's business! 
Not sure if we'll have enough warm days ahead to get fruit,
but it will be sown again in the spring.

The mottled leaves are so decorative.

The birdhouses were cleaned out a couple of weeks ago.
It's always a marvel to see how the nests tucked inside are constructed.

The chook feathers have obviously been instrumental
in creating a cozy place to raise young.
I can imagine how soft they would be.

The cannas were overrun by Japanese beetles earlier in the season,
and the leaves were such a mess.
A bit of trimming brought them back to life.
These will come up every year and spread below ground.
They also provide some shade for the chooks on this end of the run.

The hyacinth bean vine along the north side of the chook fencing
is loaded with blooms.
The butterflies, bees and even hummers savor their delightful ambrosia.
This vine never disappoints.
Maybe next year I'll set up teepees for them to grow on.


 We lost our sweet Jubilee recently
in a most sorrowful and tragic way.
She was a raven-feathered beauty
with a patina like no other.
Her loss has been a difficult lesson to learn,
as I feel it was preventable.
Please pray that she is at peace.
 She is so missed.

 I may not be posting for a couple of weeks,
as I will be pup sitting.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Garden Friday


Welcome to Garden Friday,
where we share what's happening on our Piedmont Homestead.
We had a spectacular sunset this past week
and it made me so grateful for my working eyes.

In the garden, we are gearing up for fall planting.
There is some lettuce growing,
which was started earlier this summer,
but I've left it mostly for the chooks,
as it quickly turned bitter.
Thankfully, they don't seem to mind.
Several lettuce varieties will soon be started from seed.

The red ripper beans are coming on.
These are left on the vines to dry and use for cooking.
It never ceases to amaze me what comes from planting one seed.

The Piggot peas and cukes are nestled in their bed,
where they will remain covered to dissuade squirrels 
from digging them up.
This is the first time I've grown these peas,
but I'm always willing to try something new.

The Seminole pumpkins were transplanted this week.
This is the first time I've tried this crop as well,
and I'm not sure I have the timing quite right.
I haven't had much success growing squash
and have pretty much given up on it,
but this variety is supposed to be resistant 
to the squash vine borer.

new to me caterpillar

The elderberries are here,
and although there probably won't be enough to harvest,
I'm happy to share them with the birds.

The morning glory seems quite content 
growing on the fencing of the compost  pile.

The loofah is climbing our trellis in the chook run,
providing them with needed shade.
We have flowers, but no fruit yet,
but with the ongoing heat and humidity,
it won't be long.

 If you've read this blog for any length of time,
you know I enjoy thrifting materials
and repurposing them for other uses.
These bundt pans have been used for feeding,
turned right-side up,
but this week I tried something new.
I stuck cabbage and corn in the hole on the bottom.

It was a hit!


Amazing work

The baby wrens fledged this week 
under the most horrendous of conditions!
This was the first lil' one out of the birdhouse on the porch.
Its siblings took the rest of the day to emerge.

We had a tremendous wind and rain event,
and that's when they decided it was time to venture out.
It must mean they are going to be very hearty birds!

The butterflies have been increasing in numbers

and types.
No monarchs yet, but with August rolling around,
it should be soon.

 Some of the girls are molting,
which I think is great timing on their part!
Poor Ruby looks a sight,
but I'll bet she is a bit cooler than some of the others.
No doubt she will look brand new in a few weeks' time.

Summer is waning and we are getting a bit more rain,
for which I'm grateful.
It means less time watering,
and more time enjoying the beautiful cut flowers inside.
Gardening is a blessing.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Garden Friday

Happy Birthday to Big K today!
Welcome back to Garden Friday!
We are winding down our summer garden,
and the weather has been significantly cooler.
It's enough to make a gardener think about planting fall crops!
Overall, I can't say I've been that ambitious yet,
but each day, I try to do a little something out there.
Even 15 minutes a day makes a difference.

We ate our first (and probably last) ear of corn this week!
It had to be harvested early, 
so it probably would have been a bit bigger.
It was sweet and juicy, and I loved every bite!
Why is it our last ear, you may ask?

This is why.
The squirrels not only helped themselves
to the first ear, but most of them since.
The half eaten remains lay scattered on the lawn,
on the tree stump and other parts unknown,
where they have been feasting on the fruit of my labors.
I don't have enough room to grow a large amount,
and it's just not worth the trouble.
I'm proud of myself for trying this new crop.

Keeping in mind the squirrels' antics,
sister suggested wrapping this volunteer watermelon
in welded wire to deter them from getting to it first.
We'll see what happens.

All of the seedlings that were started last week are doing well,
also wrapped in their protective shields.

 I'm hoping to get these Piggot Peas and cukes 
planted this weekend.
The Piggot Pea is an heirloom variety that is akin to
field peas or black-eyed peas.
They can be dried on the vine, used fresh,
or sprouted!

Not all creatures here on the homestead are destructive.
This orbital spider is working her magic 
on the front porch.
No doubt she has had many good meals here.

It's been a slow, steamy summer,
and I have been dealing with the lack of motivation
along with a bout of fatigue and another rooster attack,
but all in all, it's been rewarding.
Especially seeing all of the beautiful flowers emerge
without any help from me.

I will be downsizing the garden for next spring,
and concentrating on growing just a few things
that aren't too much trouble.
Adding more self-managing pollinator plants is on the agenda,
as well as improving the overall look of the flower beds.
I'm also considering doing away with the Garden Friday post
and creating a once a week post about more general things,
perhaps everything that went on during the week.

A couple of off-topic things:
I've been making fruit ice cubes for the chooks,
to help them stay cooler and hydrated.
They are a hit!

Our grocery store stopped carrying the Hu chocolates I love,
They are the cleanest, no sugar confections I have found.
So, my own treats have been made,
using only cocoa butter, cocoa powder (dark),
salt and maple syrup for sweetening.
I added chopped pecans here because I'm a
dark chocolate and nut lovin' gal.
Not the same as my beloved Hu bars, but mighty good.

 I will take another photo of this field when the flowers fill in,
but I just wanted to share these amazing sunflowers
being used as a cover crop at a friend's house.
Stunning, isn't it?
Just you wait until next week!