Friday, July 30, 2021

Garden Friday

It's summertime and Garden Friday is the chill spot.
Several of our Mammoth sunflowers have bloomed
and it brings a smile to my face every time I turn the corner.
What a wonderful, cheery welcome home!

This common milkweed has been attracting hummingbirds,
which was a surprise to me.
That alone will ensure that they get planted every season.
We're looking forward to an invasion of Monarch caterpillars
in the next few weeks.
We have many, many milkweed plants near the front porch.

The other type of milkweed we have planted
is distributed generously around the cannas
as well as in the front porch bed.
How wonderful it will be to greet these yearly visitors!

The hyacinth bean teepees are filling out,
but we have yet to have seen any of the flowers
or striking seed pods on them.
This is one ornamental plant that seems
not to have any pest pressure.

The pollinator bed is abuzz with activity.
The rudbekia really went wild this year,
and this plant in the front will be transplanted to a neighbor's bed.

Look what I spied yesterday morning while doing a garden check.
I had never seen a moth with this color combination before.
It's called a Rosy Maple moth and as you might guess,
the host for the caterpillars is the maple tree.
The caterpillars look very similar to tomato hornworms,
so I can imagine them getting mistaken for those critters.
You can learn more about this creature here.

While at work yesterday,
this little cutie showed up.
It actually hopped toward a plant I was watering,
and I was happy to help the lil' thing out.
It's been so dry here, that I can imagine many critters looking for water.

In the veg garden, I've left some of my favorite lettuce to bolt and reseed the spot in the bed.
The green oakleaf will be left in place
so that crisp, tender lettuce can be enjoyed for months to come.

The pumpkins are rockin' the bed!
So far, so good.
They were fertilized this week,
along with the melons and front porch ornamentals.

The sweet potatoes soak up every bit of heat they can get.
I will start becoming better at remembering to harvest leaves for my salads.
This plant just keeps giving, from leaves to tubers.

Another watermelon was discovered this week,
with many more flowers on the vines.
Fingers crossed that we get some homegrown fruit!

The okra is doing better since some drip irrigation
was added to help it along.
We are quite late in the season to have it this size,
but it doesn't look like the heat is letting up any,
so hopefully we will still get enough to quick pickle.

Our oregano patch is full and lush.
It rambles wildly and is a haven for pollinators.

Would you look at this guy?
He's sun bathing on the arch that covers the chicken coop.
He's practically an honorary chicken,
since he hangs out so much near the run.
At least none of the chooks' food goes to waste.

A couple of the girls are molting,
so we're back to getting only 3 eggs most days.
No worries.
We're happy to have whatever they can offer.
They are such a blessing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Going Local-Murray's Mill


This past weekend,
we ventured to a place we'd heard about,
but hadn't yet gotten around to visiting.
We were lured by the promise of a farmers' market,
but were a bit disappointed when we found only a few vendors.
Nonetheless, it was a chance to get out and about.

Murray's Mill is situated in Catawba, NC,
 and hosts several historic structures.
The mill itself was built in 1913 by John Murray,
 who was the son of the original miller in the area.
The mill is open for tours most days.
For days and times of availability,
call (828) 241-4299.
Located near the mill were walking trails,
bordered by a perpetual running stream.
The moving water was such a relaxing sound.
 The Murray and Minges General Store across the street from the mill 
was worth a look see.
There's nothing I love more than an old school screen door.
The store hales from the 1890's
and makes visitors feel like they've stepped back in time.

When was the last time 
you saw a soda dispenser like this one?

The beautiful wood floors add to the experience by creaking ever so slightly
as you make your way around the mercantile.
All sorts of old fashioned candies, local jams and honey,
as well as gifts galore can be found on these shelves.

In another section of the store is the soda fountain,
where many a sweet treat surely was shared.

I'm glad we took the time to discover another local treasure.
You can learn more about Murray's Mill on their website,
found here.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Garden Friday

It's a balmy Garden Friday!
The summer heat is cranking out bodacious blooms 
and kitchen goodies around the homestead.

These moonflowers grew from seeds gifted me by a neighbor.
I always thought moonflowers were all white,
but this variety obviously has other ideas.
As soon as the sun comes out, they retire for the day.

On the other hand, I discovered these unique morning glories
near the oregano patch.
I've never seen this pattern before and it took me by surprise.

Our sweet next door neighbor had given me a cutting
from her hydrangea bush.
I simply stuck it in a glass of water and waited about 3 weeks.
It looks like I'll have a new ornamental bush in the garden soon!

Our first Mammoth Sunflower has bloomed
in the pollinator bed.
I'm estimating that it's at least 12 feet tall,
and I hope to be able to get the head off to save seeds
before the squirrels climb up the stalk and steal them.

The bees seem to be loving the blossoms on the loofah.

The first fruit has formed and I can't wait to see this plant take off!

Several more squash have formed on the cattle panel trellis.
Last week I was reporting that I had very few female flowers
and only one fruit on the vine.
I may even resow more seeds for a fall harvest.
The bug pressure should be reduced.

This lone broccoli plant is making a comeback!
Although it didn't give me a head last season,
it's decided to replenish its leaves and try again.
Fresh seed will be sown for fall planting,
but this one will be left in place.

The pumpkins continue to flourish without much intervention from me.
The drip irrigation is a game changer,
and I can see that they really benefit from the consistent watering.

The sweet potatoes are starting to arch over the piece of cattle panel
that I placed next to the bed.
I can imagine that soon the panel will be covered with vines.
The leaves of this plant can be eaten raw in salads,
or wilted like spinach.

Oh my goodness!
It doesn't take much to thrill me,
but this lil' watermelon did the trick!

And when I spotted a few more,
I was beside myself!
With multiple flowers on the vines,
it's a good time to feed this plant.

The turmeric resides in a shady spot
near the compost pile.
I'm also keeping about a dozen pots of aloe,
which I have repotted for a local giveaway.

Our homestead is abuzz with activity!
We have so many bees and other pollinators
and I couldn't bee more pleased!
One new task I've taken to doing each day,
is combing through our crape myrtle blossoms for Japanese beetles
and feeding them to the chooks.
They come running when they see the tin can in my hand,
for they know the treasures that abound!

Betty and Wilma chowing down

I hope your weekend is filled with what means the most to you.
As for me, I'll be right here
with everything I hold dear.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Garden Friday

It's Garden Friday!
Let's see what's growing this week.

I recently discovered these blackberries growing wild
in a little section of our woods.
They have been hit-and-miss with regard to sweetness.
Or maybe I'm just too impatient to wait for them to properly ripen.

The butternut squash continues to scale the trellis,
but so far, only one fruit has formed.
There is no sign of squash bugs or eggs on the foliage,
and I haven't seen as many female flowers on it.
There are two other squash plants in the same bed,
but they are not doing as well.
I'm afraid they may have been affected by a squash vine borer.

The sweet potatoes and melons are growing well.
The melons are flowering and I am keeping tabs
on how many female flowers are on the vines. 


Lettuce is still being harvested a few times a week
and the less than perfect leaves are given to the chooks.
Our rooster Gandolf, especially, loves his greens.

The Green Oakleaf lettuce (my favorite),
started turning bitter as it is ready to bolt,
so I pulled some of it for the chickens,
and left a couple of plants to go to seed
and resow the bed for fall.

A couple of different varieties of cucumbers were resown.
They decided to come up right away.

The drying beans are still producing,
but are not getting as plump as I'd hoped.
I'm wondering if I need to increase the amount of water
they are getting,
as we haven't had much in the way of precipitation.

The pumpkins are growing, despite the lack of rain.
I sure hope we get some of these this year,
as I've not yet had success growing pumpkins.

The loofah has made it to the top of the gazebo frame.
Thankfully, the chooks have left the pots they are growing in alone,
and it's just a matter of time before they are climbing across the top.

gloriosa daisy


Our crape myrtle trees are finally blooming!
I know these are a common tree, 
especially here in the south,
but I think they are one of the most spectacular displays of flowers.
The bonus is, the pollinators love 'em!

This little gem was spied near the chicken run.
I think my plant app identified it as some type of mallow,
but I know I didn't plant it there,
so I still have no idea what it is.
Of course, I'm saving the seeds.
Any idea out there?

The garden gets ample shade in the morning,
so I can work out there quite comfortably for a while.
I'm hoping to add a few more beds to the vegetable garden,
but we'll see if the budget allows.
Until then, I'm using containers as needed.

 Our summer has been fairly mild, thus far.
I can't complain about temps in the 80's,
when there are so many suffering with triple digits.
I'm inside more than I'd like,
but fall will be here soon enough.
Until then, I will keep tweaking the garden,
one daydream at a time.
What's your favorite thing to grow in the heat of summer?