June 15, 2017 0 comments By: m

Too Hot!!!

Approaching 100 degrees the last few days, and the wind is high.  Brutal.  But, oh, look!  Next week's forecast is for temps in the low 90s.  😓 I had hoped last year's August beginning in June was an anomaly.  Gardening is not so much fun when it's in the 90s.

I have a lot of things to keep watered this year.   So far, it's all still looking good.  Except for whatever is eating the tops off the rose buds.  And I've noticed the first Japanese beetles on my roses.  Grrrrrrr!  Last year we had such a devastating invasion that I broke down and went for the toxic chemical carbaryl (Sevin by brand name) to fight them.  I don't think I'm even going to wait for that problem this year, since I have my new rose garden.  I'm going to tackle them right away.  Sorry bees.  Please do not feed from my roses.  There are lots and lots of other things.

This is not a very uplifting post, so I'll share some more pictures, since it's too hot to do anything else.

I said everything is looking good, but the cabbages don't seem to want to make nice heads.  I'm guessing it's just too darned hot.  These two are still pretty, but they're the exception.

The lima beans I planted three days ago shot up overnight.

The cat is checking them out because that's what I'm doing.  She's not sure why they should garner more attention than herself.

All the tomato plants are at least three feet tall and bushy and flowering.  Two of them have little tomatoes in various sizes up to about a diameter of 1-1/2".  I have five tomatoes in cages, but I put this one on a trellis, just for fun.  This morning I put a side dressing of composted manure at the base of each tomato plant and amongst the peppers, as it was looking like it was going to rain.  It didn't, and I had to go back and water it all in.

This plant is not nearly as bushy as the caged ones.  It's 'Black Beauty' - a purple variety I haven't grown before - and it's leaves are finer than the other varieties, which is part of the reason.  There may be other reasons as well: perhaps the plant itself was punier; maybe the soil is different in this spot; it does get a little shade in the morning.  And maybe growing it on a trellis makes a difference.  The first two years I tried to grow my tomatoes on stakes, but it is just too windy here.  They also had to be pruned a good deal, and tied up.  I thought the trellis might be a compromise between staking and caging, so I'll see how it compares to the other methods.  It will have to be tied up, but not pruned - at least not so much as the staked ones.

The zucchini in a tomato cage is not (yet, at least) trying to escape as I thought it might. I've been harvesting small, tender fruits.  (No quarrels please about "fruits" vs. "vegetables".) And the cucumbers have really taken off.  They have flowers, but no fruits yet on them.

The harvest I get from my ornamental vegetable garden is a bonus.

'Rocky Top Mix' leaf lettuce, Golden zucchini and Nasturtium flowers

Steamed 'Shiraz Tall Top' beet greens with pink Himalayan salt

Rhubarb 'Victoria'

Some for freezing...

And some for eating...

Best practice for rhubarb grown from seed is to put off harvesting the first year, and harvest very sparingly the second year.  The 'Holstein' and 'Cherry Red' plants I grew from seed this year, however, have grown so large already, that I actually took a stem from a 'Holstein' today.  (Those pink pieces in the picture above for freezing are 'Holstein'.)  It was comparable in size to the 'Victoria' rhubarb I harvested for pies.  Those stems are up to 15" long.

With the late freeze we had in March, one of the 'Victoria' plants that were damaged grew back with a greater abundance of stems that were a good deal thinner with smaller leaves.  It's still a big plant, but about 2/3 the height I would expect it to be had it not been damaged.  You can see from the following picture that this year's 'Holstein' (on the left) is about the same height as the four-year-old 'Victoria' on the right.  In fact, it's leaves are larger and stems are thicker.

This morning I found a surprise albino poppy in the wildflower field - a mutation from one of the purple varieties planted there.  Since all the purple ones have already bloomed and won't be able to cross pollinate it, I marked it and will collect its seed to see what it produces next year - assuming it sets viable seed.

The rose and herb garden is filling in.

Unless I mixed up the two David Austin roses I bought this spring, I think they mislabeled 'Charles Darwin'.  I'll have to wait until the other one blooms to know for certain.  'Charles Darwin' is supposed to be yellow.  This is what's blooming now:

It's lovely, whoever it is.  At least it was until the Japanese beetles attacked.

And Shazam! is still one of my favorites.  The buds start out with yellow on the underside of the petals and open to deep pink, then fade to a frosty light pink.

The large English lavendar is now beginning to bloom.

And look at this sweetheart.  It's 'Boysenberry Ruffles' French lavender.

I'd never heard of Nemesia before.  It's just been perking right along, blooming profusely and continuously, since I planted it in April.

The dahlias are blooming.  Here's a pretty one.

That's it for now.  Stay cool.  Till next time.

June 10, 2017 0 comments By: m

In Full Swing

Right now is the point where things are on the outer edge of being neat and tidy.  I've managed to get the weeds back under control, but I'm having to water every other day to keep things from wilting.  They'd gotten so much rain, and then lots of sun, that they've grown quite lush.  With the heat and high winds we're getting now, those with large leaves are prone to wilting by late afternoon, and I hate to see that, so I give them some supplemental water since I have a hydrant close by.  I don't like to get them used to too much water that they can't handle dry periods, but I fear I may have already crossed that line.

The potatoes in my compost pile don't get any supplemental watering, and they seem to be doing just fine.  Same for the zucchini and cucumber plants on top.

The basil has finally started taking off now that the weather has turned hot.  I'm loving the 'Cardinal' variety - this is the first time I've planted it.  The dark stems and petioles are really striking with the green leaves.  It's supposed to get a dark wine red flower spike.

Basil varieties: 'Red Rubin', 'Cardinal', and one 'Purple Ruffles' 

It seems like the tomatoes have shot up overnight, but in reality, I transplanted them a month ago.  Every day I have to check that side shoots do not go wandering far outside the cages.  Flowers have been blooming on them for a few days now.

From the free packet of currant tomato seeds I have two plants.  I had no idea what they'd produce, but the packaged did indicate that the fruits were "tiny".  One plant that I kept in a pot has some small green fruit on it now.  Unless they're going to taste out of this world, this isn't something I'll want to grow again.  No wonder they were give-aways.

I was very skeptical about the golden zucchini that are inside a tomato cage, but they are handling it well at the moment.  Their large leaves and hollow petioles (leaf stems) wilt and bend over the cage wires but don't break.  Fruits are forming, and I've harvested a few about as big as my thumb just to snack on or cut up in salad.  I'm still thinking that once the vines start to elongate more I'll have a jumbled mess on my hands.  We'll see.

When I was in Mexico, squash blossoms were commonly lightly grilled and eaten in tacos.

All three carrot varieties I planted this year are new to me.  That was probably a mistake.  Two of them - 'Kyoto' and 'Cosmic Purple' - are already producing tops with stems as big around as my thumb and two feet high - and flowering!  This is not what I would expect.  When I pulled a few, they had small roots compared to the tops.  'Kyoto' was too small a root even to taste, and 'Cosmic Purple', while lovely, was like trying to bite through petrified wood - I couldn't do it.  I have no idea what is wrong.

The okra plants are six or seven inches tall and coming along nicely.

The 'Jersey Wakefield' cabbages are beautiful, but only about half of them seem to actually be forming heads.  I had the same issue last year with 'Brunswick' cabbages, and maybe even less than half.

A gardener friend says she doesn't have good luck with spring cabbages so she plants them for fall crops.  I've just seeded some pots indoors that I'll use to eventually replace the failed heads and see if I also have better luck with fall cabbages.

I also sowed more lettuce, arugula and tatsoi today.  The arugula and tatsoi I planted at the end of March are bolting and flowering.  They're kind of pretty, so I've left a few of each from which I'll try to save seed.  Both being cruciferous plants, and flowering at the same time in the same area, I wonder if they'll end up producing a cross.  I mean a cross between the two plants.  They both do produce crosses in the form of 4-petaled flowers, which is how they got the name crucifer.

White cruciform flowers of arugula

Flowering tatsoi

I avoided harvesting from the one butterhead type of lettuce that was so perfectly formed just because I liked looking at it - and the crazy wild-leaved one next to it.  The center of the head one is beginning to extend upward, so I'm expecting it to bolt any minute.

I don't know if it's the type of lettuces in this 'Rocky Top' mix or the fact that I've planted them where they get some shade (and could be both), but even when the leaves are large and the plants are mature, they don't get bitter.

The peas having done their thing, I harvested the remaining old pods to save seeds and pulled the plants.  They had been hiding a world of weeds, which is I assume what the whole garden would have looked like had I not been continually pulling and scraping.  Indeed, this has been the weediest year yet - perhaps three times what I've deat with in the past three years.  This may be another effect of having had a very mild winter.

The weeds that had been hiding beneath the peas

It was easy enough to pull what was there, and the soil was wonderfully friable and easy to replant.  Now I've got lima beans planted where the peas were.  As you can see, I am not concerned about precision when I sow.

The beets are growing beautifully with very little blemish - hardly any at all on the golden beets.  The red variety - 'Shiraz Tall Top' - looks like it's aptly named, as the leaves are half again as big as the 'Golden' variety.  I've been getting lots of nice leaves to steam from them.   'Golden' has a sweeter, milder flavor; less beet taste, mostly just sweetness.

Outer arc = 'Shiraz Tall Top' beets; inner triangle = 'Golden'

The "shady" early-crop end of the garden (greens) is nice and full.

The zinnias I planted in the onions' arc are interesting and pretty, but they're not the look I was going for.  I ordered something called 'Lime' which is supposed to be mostly green with some lilac tints.  Obviously, that's not what I got.  They're a mixture of colors and types.  I never was much of a zinnia fan, but who could not like this:

Still, next year, I do want to get 'Lime' from a dependable seller and create the look I was intending.

Another order I got that claimed to be Red Cosmos turned out to originate from a seller in China.  It took a long time to get here, and it is obviously not cosmos.  The foliage looks familiar to me, but I don't know what it is.  I expect to go, "Aha!" when  (if?) it finally produces flowers.  Anybody recognize this?

Those were two of my Amazon orders - I've learned my lesson.  The 'Blue Monday' salvia I ordered might actually be 'Blue Monday', but it sure is flowering strangely.  

I hope it plans to put out more of the dark purple flowers on those spikes.

But I did actually get what I ordered when I got 'Seashell' cosmos.  How cool is this?

The dahlias in my new cut flower bed are starting to bloom nicely.  The dark leaved ones that flowered first were supposed to be black flowers, but at least they're pretty colors.  (Yes, Amazon order.)

The few lupine that actually germinated aren't flowering, but they have very interesting foliage.  At least, I GUESS they're actually lupine.

My new bare root David Austin roses - 'Pat Austin' and 'Charles Darwin' - are not yet putting out any pretty blooms, but even my 'Pink Enchantment' that was so gorgeous last year is struggling.  Something is stunting the buds, and I can't see what's causing the problem.  Shazam!, on the other hand, one that I've had for two years but was really struggling just to survive in another location, is fabulous.

The poppies are stunning.  As are the lilies, but they're both coming to the end of their flowering season.

And my spider friends work all night long to create beautiful art in the morning dew.

Keep cool, Missouri gardeners.  Enjoy the summer's bounty.