Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fabulous Fall

      The new fall weather is delightful.  It is a joy to be out in the garden without sweat salting on my glasses.  Lots of flowers are in, and harvests of tomatoes and beans are still going strong.  The following pictures are all from September 23, 2015.

Cosmos with Striping
Beautiful Speckled Zinnia

      The shot above is of Mexican Butterflyweed.  It does indeed attract butterflies  And aphids, yuck. If you look very closely at this picture, there is a Soldier Beetle on the flower, near the top.  He is sitting horizontally with his head to the left. Thanks to the soldier, this plant is probably aphid free.

      Grapes?  Don't I wish.  This is American Beauty Bush, which get these pretty little purple berries.  When the winter is cold and long, the birds will strip the bushes.  Natural bird seed.

     Last winter was long and hard.  Killed the canna lily bulbs.  But not the seed.  So the canna lilies are back in full force, and attract hummingbirds all day long.  I would like too find more attractive canna flowers, but this variety has been with us for a long, long time.

      These cherry tomatoes are probably Sweet 100's.  Here is a closer shot:

      These are Sungold Cherry Tomatoes.  Beautiful mixed in with red cherries and Chocolate Cherries.  This plant is a volunteer growing up into the Dr. Martin Lima beans.
       Well, that is enough for now.  Every plant shown is a volunteer.  It is nice to have free plants, but you need to pull them where they start to takeover.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Light of its own

      Just after lunch today I looked out at the garden and saw this Gloriosa Daisy shining like a beacon through the shade of the Pin Oak tree.  This is the first shot of my new Nikon Coolpix camera.  The old one was having lens extension problems.  Hopefully I will be able to get back to some picture documentation for my blog.

    The gloriosa daisies have been a little prolific in their volunteer efforts this year.  Some of the plants have a definite orange tinge to the flower petals.

This plant has orange near the center

       And this last plant has far more orange/red to the flowers.  The flowers are about double the size of black eyed Susan, and are very light self seeders. So light,that I do not often offer them for adoption during my plant give aways.  Maybe next year will yield enough to give away.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Back Garden, July 24, 2015

      It was a good deal cooler this morning.  A comfortable time to stroll in the garden.

      It is early enough that the sun is casting the shadow of the white ash across the lawn.  The major flower players in the garden on this date are the white or pink phlox, the African daisies, and cleome.

Gloriosa daisy and phlox

       After suffering poor germination rates in the spring, the surviving beans have done quite well.  These are Blue Lake bush beans in the center, with Lacinto kale on the right.  The recent rains have drowned out most squash, but I am hoping the patty pan and zucchini in the back ground will make it.

      I first tried these rattlesnake pole beans last year and got only one plant to survive germination and plant out.  Pole beans are much harder for me to get started, but once they are going, they are prolific and easy to pick.  The rattlesnake beans are attractive, tasty and round like bush beans.  I much prefer them to the flat pole beans.  Four or five plants are producing this year, so there are plenty to eat and will also be plenty to save as next year's seed.

Swiss Chard and kale

      Our next door neighbor has always fed wild birds, but this is the first year that we have benefited in 10 to 15 volunteer plants from lost seed.  Growing from the top of this sunflower is a climbing Dr. Martin lima bean vine.  Those beans are heavily producing flowers, and some have started to pod.

Butternut Squash

And another

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fourth of July Tomato

      How often do you get something that is better than advertised?  I bought a Burbee's Fourth of July Tomato plant this spring.  I thought I would try one plant as August first or later is often my start of the tomato season.  Well when I checked on the progress of the plant last week, I was shocked and pleased to see a tomato ripening!  Not willing to let birds or slugs or deer get the first tomato of the year, I picked the little devil on June 26th.  Yes, in June.

First Tomato picked June 26, 2015
      And oh so scrumptious.  Not like a mid August Black Krim, but not like anything I have had in eight months.  The plant is a hybrid, so I won't try to save seed, but I will certainly look for the plants again next year.  As an indeterminate tomato, it has been said to produce well into October or November.  I am going to root some cuttings to aim for that late crop.  I may even try to bring in a late plant to try to have stems for rooting next year.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Kohlrabi Harvest

Kohlrabi, just before pulling June 16, 2015
      Some vegetables are certainly weird looking in the garden.  Some have never been eaten by more than a handful of veggie buyers.  Some people don't know what part of the veggie they are supposed to eat.  Well, kohlrabi fits all those statements.  The first time I grew it was just to see what it looked like.  It is neat to look at, and delicious to eat.

Entire plant pulled
      So what part do you eat?  The little tennis ball thingie in the middle that actually forms a bulb above ground.  You want to harvest it at this size, because they become woody as they get larger.

Ready for launch
      The Russian rocket scientists who designed the first satellite in space, the Sputnik, stole the design of the earthly kohlrabi.  This baby is ready for launch.
      So how do you eat this thing?  First you trim off the rest of the stems and say good bye to the Sputnik appearance.  If the bulb is tender you can use a veggie peeler to pare off the thin outer layer.  If it is starting to toughen a bit, I just use a paring knife to shave off the thin outer skin.  An apple peeler hand machine would be awesome.  Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked.  Slice the little ball  into 1/8 inch circles.  Cut each circle in half to have two semi circles.  They can now be used like radishes, but without a kick.  Great on a cut veggie platter, or for dipping in your favorite veggie sauce.  The semi circles are great for stir fry or for addition to soups.
       Kohlrabi is becoming more popular in the gardening scene, and I actually purchased mine as a nine pack of starter veggies at Home Depot this spring for $3.44 for the pack.  And one better than a Model T, you can actually get them in white or purple.  If you start seed in early July, you should have an even better fall harvest of this member of the cool weather veggies of the cole group.
      Say bye bye to this one, as he is invited to dinner tonight.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

First Zucchini

Zucchini, as of June 14, 2015
      It seems early to me, but I picked my first two zucchini yesterday!  We had one of them for dinner in a delicious casserole, so had the one remaining on the left. Today we picked the two golden zucchini and the nice green one on the right.  So in only two days into the picking season, we are near the point of overload. However, daughter Emily will be here on Tuesday, and she is a zucchini fixing and eating machine.  Even zucchini fritters for breakfast.  Yes, they are quite good.
      My previous posts tagged for zucchini are from the months of September and October.  It was unusual to have it that late, as bugs or mildew usually do it in. The newer bush zucchini are quite susceptible to squash borers eating out the main stem.  If you pile more dirt around the base of the plant they will often put out new roots and continue to grow. That is how I kept them late into the season.  They also grow so quickly that plants started before July 15th should produce a fall crop.