Friday, August 27, 2021

Garden Friday

It's another Garden Friday and we are in a state of transition.
While we have a few things still growing in the garden,
it will soon be time to seed our fall and cover crops.

Believe it or not, this is our first okra of the season.
We got a late start with this heat lover,
but by the looks of the future temperatures,
summer isn't going away anytime soon.
Who knows?
We may get enough to pickle!

The basil was another late bloomer,
although it was planted early in the season.
I'm hoping to get at least a few batches of pesto made
and put into the freezer for later use.

The Red Ripper beans are starting to strut their stuff,
climbing the bamboo A-frame.
These are one of the best drying beans I've ever eaten.

I somehow lost the tag to this melon plant,
so I'll have to refer to my seed packets to find the variety.
I believe it is a cross between a honey dew and a cantaloupe.
 It doesn't look close to being ready to harvest.

A few of the Kajari melons have ripened,
but were split from the inconsistent rain we've been getting.
I'm hoping I'll still get to taste one this season.
In any case, seed was saved for next year's planting.

The sweet potatoes keep on a rockin' the bed!
They are sprawling all over the place,
and I'm thankful we have the space for them to ramble.
This bed will be filled with cover crops when it is harvested.

The loofah has taken on some size.
Before you know it, they are huge!
By the time the fruit gets to be this size,
it starts to get squishy,
which means that the "sponge" is starting to develop inside.
I hope to have enough to share again this year.

The pumpkin flowers are so striking.
So far, no fruit is forming,
but we are as patient as we need to be.

Some time was spent this week mixing up our soil
with the amendments we had on hand.
I had planned to fill the raised beds with it on Tuesday,
but I lost a day due to the effect of the shingles vaccine.
I hope to tackle this task on the weekend
so that I can start planting!

I've been working on collecting various seeds.
These are from the gorgeous moonflowers 
we've been enjoying each evening.
It looks like I'll have plenty to give away.

The tithonia, or Mexican sunflower, always provides lots of seeds
so that they can be planted every year.
This is one of my favorite summer blooms. 
I really want to be better about saving seeds each year.

This woody patch in our backyard is where I think the bunnies live.
We purposely pile up brush for critters to have a safe haven.
We often see rabbits in the front or side yard.

Look at this cute lil' thing I spied one evening.
When I picked it up to show C,
it squealed and squealed!
I'm not sure who was more surprised!

We've been having a problem with finding dead bees
on the front porch every morning.
Several will be found curled up in this position.
It's curious, as we don't use chemicals on the homestead.

I have a mind to transplant some of this supple grass.
This resides underneath a canopy of trees,
but it's so graceful that I would like to use it elsewhere.
I love any kind of native grasses
and hope to add some to the property over time.

We got over an inch of rain this week,
for which we are so grateful.
This seasonal transition is always an upbeat time.
With the hope that every lil' seed brings,
we dream of what could be,
and work to make it so.
May your garden and your homestead be blessed.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Garden Friday

It's been a wet and stormy week,
and we're happy to report no serious damage
on this Garden Friday.
We were blessed with over 3" of rain,
after being without any precipitation for many weeks.

The loofah is gracing us with beautiful blooms,
and is starting to cover the top of the frame.
The bees are its constant companion.

A few fruit were spied on the vines yesterday.
These will be eaten when less than 8",
and I will enjoy a wonderful zucchini substitute.
I want to see if the chooks will eat them as well.

Checking on the pumpkins,
I couldn't help but notice there were no female flowers visible.
The plants look fairly healthy,
with the exception of a bit of squash beetle damage.

Our okra is way behind the growing season,
but marching on just the same.
We'll see if we're able to harvest some for pickling.
Depending on how long summer lasts,
we could get lucky.

The hyacinth bean tepees are looking glorious.
They are being covered in delicate purple blooms.
These are purely ornamental, and they add a nice bit of color to the garden.

They also ensure their longevity by forming oodles of seed pods.

The milkweed is also producing seed pods,
which will be harvested so that we have fresh seed
for next season.
We are expecting the monarch caterpillars any day now.

The moonflower seeds have been gathered a few times a week,
and I will be happy to be able to share some of these beauties.

The lantana has done well planted in some
old lawnmower tires.
These heat resistant flowers just keep blooming,
all summer long.

The stormy weather on Tuesday caused our maple tree
to fall forward.
I think I spied a crack in the trunk, way up high.
This tree will most likely have to be felled,
even though it doesn't threaten anything but the drain field.
Although I'd be sad to see it come down,
it would be enough wood chips to cover the whole garden
and then some.

Two of the hoses I use near the garden and chicken coop 
burst at the same time.
We've been looking for replacements,
but haven't liked what we've found.
They just don't make them like they used to.
 One of these is connected to the irrigation,
so it will need to be replaced soon.

There's always a project on the homestead.
New goals with each new day.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday!
Summer has come back to visit
and we are feeling every bit of the heat and humidity
we are usually accustomed to.
The only positive thing I can say about it
is that it does foster abundant blooms like these beauties.
A load of compost was unloaded from our trailer,
to be used to fill up the raised beds
which have settled since last being filled.
This will need to sit for at least another week
before being added to the beds,
as it may still be too hot to plant in.
I will plan to add some Daddy Pete's to it and mix it in well.

Some plastic scraps were placed underneath
the melons to keep them healthier. 
I just cut up some distilled water jugs.
It keeps them off the ground to avoid fungal problems
and promotes better air circulation.

The sweet potatoes, planted at the onset of summer,
are vining out onto the grass.
No flowers have yet been spotted,
so they still have a ways to go.
It's sad to see even the drought tolerant plants
struggling in the heat.
With no rain to speak of in weeks,
supplemental watering has been helping them along.

 Even the bees are trying to find what they need.
These watermelon rinds were placed in the run,
and the chooks couldn't even get close to them.
I've been feeding the chooks melon rinds all summer,
and I've never seen the bees go so ga-ga for them.

The chooks got a layer of organic straw added to their run.
It gives them something to scratch and they seem to enjoy
peeking underneath for new bugs that might be hiding there.
I'm working on a plan to redesign the chicken run,
including lots of cottage-style plants along the fencing. 
I got this photo from my research online
(sorry, I didn't write down the source),
to help me visualize what I want to add.
I have a very hard time designing garden areas,
and need to find clear examples of what I hope to accomplish.
It might be worthwhile for me to hire someone to make a plan,
but it seems so difficult here to find folks to follow through on jobs.
This is one of the beds at one of my client's home,
(one I weed quite often),
and it is a good jumping off point to help me with ideas.

This fascinating web was found yesterday,
and it makes me wonder what type of critter created it.
It's a work of art.

A few weeks ago, these caterpillars were found on the milkweed.
At the time, I didn't know what they were,
except that I knew they weren't Monarchs,
as the coloring is quite different.
After some research, I found out that they are tussock moth caterpillars,
which, as far as I know, are not native to North Carolina.
One caution with this particular caterpillar
is that their fuzzy outer covering can cause a skin rash.
Here's more about this fascinating creature. 
They have since disappeared, and the milkweed
is awaiting the arrival of the monarch caterpillars.

These hot and sticky days don't find me out in the garden much.
I am looking forward to fall planting,
which will occur in the last days of August,
after beds are prepped.
This season, I will not be following a plan,
but simply adding to beds with the crops I know I can grow.
I'm also planning to grow some cover crops
in the 3X8 bed that usually houses our garlic.
Once the sweet potatoes and melons are harvested,
the cover crops will go in for the season.
The garlic will be planted in another bed in October.

What's happening in your summer garden?

Friday, August 6, 2021

Garden Friday

It's Garden Friday and we are lovin' summer right now!
This past week has been absolutely delightful
with mild temperatures and low humidity.
Did you know that Moonflowers could be anything but white?
I sure didn't until these beauties started blooming.

They are working on getting the porch posts covered
and the blossoms begin around 6 p.m.
and last until morning.

The thistle feeder was recently moved
closer to the front porch,
with the thought that maybe the finches wouldn't venture that close to the house.
We've been enjoying watching them on it every day,
as well as seeing them pull out the seeds from the black-eyed Susans.

One thing I realized this year,
is that I didn't plant enough zinnias.
This is one of my favorite summer flowers,
so I'll have to make a mental note for next spring.

The cannas next to the front porch steps looked bedraggled
for such a long time, I had feared they may not make it.
But, lo and behold, they are coming right along
and seem to relish their time in the afternoon sunshine.

The balloon flowers in the butterfly bed
haven't stopped blooming all summer.
This easy perennial reseeds itself,
so there is always plenty of color around.

Our lone tithonia, another favorite sits in the mailbox bed.
I know I planted tons of this seed,
but perhaps I neglected to water enough.
Goodness knows, Mother Nature has not been too generous
 with rainfall this spring and summer.
I vow to do better next year.

With the cooler temperatures,
I managed to do a bit of tidying up in the garden beds.
It feels good to keep things looking their best.

Yesterday, I discovered how the chooks were getting out
of their temporary run.
The squirrels around here are notorious for chewing through
just about anything.
One of the biggest projects on my list for fall
is to build a more permanent fencing structure
with welded wire surrounding it.

On the intentional growing side of things,
the watermelons are popping up all over!

It will be so thrilling to harvest these for our family.
Fingers crossed!

The one-year asparagus is morphing into something a bit weird.
I am new to growing asparagus,
and since the garden was moved last year,
I had to start over with new plants.
This is the first time I've seen this.

It seems that stalks are attempting to grow,
although I know we can't harvest this year.

The resident bunnies have been taking shelter underneath
the sweet potato vine arches.
It offers shade and safety from predators.

This cutie was scared off when I was doing a garden check,
and then went right back over to the sweet potatoes.

One of the butternut squashes looks like it will be ready to eat soon.
These are delicious roasted and eaten as such,
or turned into a creamy dairy-free soup.

The sunflowers in the pollinator bed are done.
I still haven't gotten a picture with them,
but I will have Big K take one soon.
This has become a yearly ritual,
and it makes me feel so joyful to see them towering over me.
I planted some Autumn Glory sunflowers in the bed
so that we can enjoy them all fall.

Note to self:
check to make sure the correct irrigation line is on.
I didn't realize that I forgot to turn the water back on to the garden,
and the strawberries are suffering for it.

Fortunately, the plants in the two towers fared better
and even had something to offer.

The beans have been left to dry on the vines,
and I'm thinking of planting more for fall,
just to see what I get.

I mean, can you ever have enough beans?
They last forever in your pantry 
and can be used for so many dishes.

The decision has been made to go ahead
and fill up the raised beds with compost and amendments before fall planting.
The garden is at a lull at the moment,
and I know that I will soon be ready to get the fall crops started.
All of the beds need topping off,
and it might help me have a better seasonal harvest.
How are things in your summer garden?