Monday, July 29, 2019

A Landscape Project

This summer we are working on a very large landscaping project.  It is not yet ready for blogging but it entails planting a whole lot of ornamental grasses directly into our awful clay ground.

When I planted the dry creek bed a few years ago, I got the idea to plant the plants into large fiber pots and then dig the fiber pots into the ground.  This has worked out perfectly.  Some of the pots are already beginning to break down.  All of the plants are doing well.  If I want to replace a plant (I've juggled a few around and replaced annual varieties with perennials) I can usually just pull the entire root ball out of the pot and plop it into a different one.  

This project requires twice as many plants.  The basis is ornamental grasses, and I also have some shrubs in mind.  Right now I am taking advantage of half off sales at the local nurseries.  Last Friday afternoon I loaded thirty gallon sized grasses into the back seat of my car and then the next morning we went back with the SUV and loaded six two gallon sized grasses.

I brought my potting bench into the garden and staged all of my pots and potting mix, and after several hours of potting I turned 30 potted grasses into... 30 larger potted grasses.  I like to have them in the garden for a week or so where they are easy to water and any loose soil that overflows just goes into the empty bed.  This next weekend I will begin toting them around and working on my layout.  Then I have a lot of holes to dig.
And I just took a mental walkabout and made a list of about 20 perennials I already have either potted up tucked in a corner, or out of place in the existing landscape that need to be rounded up and potted up.  And that doesn't even included the six daylillies that need to be divided.

In addition to the ornamental grasses, I've picked up about a dozen perennials for starters.  The bees and butterflies are really excited about them.  In fact a few of them might have ridden over in the car.

That's a lot of planting to do...

 Meanwhile, in veggie-world:  I had to pull the last of the lettuce which I had left shading the roots of the second planting of cucumbers.  

The plants are loaded with cucumbers but I couldn't see them to pick them!
I'm picking about 3-5 cucumbers a day

The second planting of corn is tasseling.

I'm getting good side shoots from the broccoli and as much cauliflower as we can eat.

I cut back the old potato plants.  They did not bloom this year.  We've eaten a few potatoes but I will leave these in the ground for awhile instead of trying to store them.

The Sunpatien and Begonia pots that I sank into the front landscape are growing well and are on the verge of a ton of blooms.  I pruned these back severely when I transplanted them.  They have been blooming steady, but not profusely.  I can't wait until all of those buds open at once.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

First Tomato 2019

I picked the first two tomatoes today.  They could still use a couple days of ripening on the counter.  They are both Paul Robeson.  One is from the spare container plant and the other is from the plant in the raised bed.  There are no other tomatoes showing color right now.  This is a fairly early, although not record breaking date.  In the past I've had to wait a week or more into August to pick.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Day of Firsts

Today I picked the first cucumber,
the first zucchini and the Baby Bump grew a mop-head.

In fact today there are a lot of corn silks showing

 I can almost taste this tomato!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

On the Brink

We are on the brink of harvest time.  I can see potential!

The second planting of cucumbers is growing like mad.

The first planting is almost ready to pick.
No cucumber beetles.  Good pollination.
I've only removed one poorly developed one

All of the peas are out. 
I don't mind looking at a bare bed now and then.
The soil is beautiful.  This bed was seeded with bush beans yesterday

Still my favorite view in the garden

A hint of color!
The Paul Robeson plants (both of them have blushing fruit)

Lots of tassles

And a baby-bump!

The cantaloupes are looking good.
but....  I can't even show you a female flower
...still waiting

The cucumbers might be getting good pollination but not the zucchini.
I've removed five shriveling squash.  So as not to waste them I've taken a bite of each :)
I have a jar of pesto ready for my first zucchini noodles.  Yum.

Finally a yellow cauliflower!  I also have two green and one white almost ready.  
I seeded the fall crop this past week (on the fifteenth) 
and they are already almost ready to transplant into cells..

I'm enjoying my portulaca pots

And my dinner plate dahlias

The apples are continuing well.  No additional drops since a scant June drop. 
And this is on the lazy tree!  The tree who has only set one apple a year and dropped it before it ripened....  11 apples still hanging on!  The other tree has 36+

Monday, July 15, 2019

And now we wait

 Usually this happens in June.  There is nothing coming out of the garden now.  The peas are coming out and we are waiting on (in this order):

  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Corn
  • Beans
  • Cantaloupes

We are still getting some cauliflowers.  The zucchini will be a pickable size next week. We could be using new potatoes but I am letting them grow so we have more this fall.

In this bed I planted a half row of late cucumbers and the rest is buckwheat.

The sweet corn is gorgeous.  If I look among the leaves I am seeing the beginnings of tassles.

The pumpkin vines are working their way out

In the beds that are resting, I am on my second planting of buckwheat.  
The first planting has already been worked into the soil. 
My zucchini plant is at the far end.

This year I got 3 or more female flowers before we got a male flower.  And I don't think the insects managed to cross pollinate them from the neighbor's garden.  So the first few squash will have to come off before they rot.  But it is loaded with flowers now and we're in business.

The tomatoes are doing well but the eggplants are sluggish and have not bloomed yet.

The Nasturtium are doing their thing as ground cover.
In fact, they are still taller than the eggplant

I am satisfied with the number of tomatoes set on each plant.
The containers and the raised bed plants have similar numbers.
There are a lot of blooms on all of the plants this week.

As you can see, the container tomatoes are monsters

They are taller and MUCH thicker than the plants in the beds. 

 The bush beans are growing fast.
Jade on the left and Blue Lake on the right.

We need RAIN!  I'm watering every other day, except for the container tomatoes which need their reservoirs filled every day.  Hopefully we will get some steady rain from the tropical storm that is on its way.  We could use an inch or two but not all at once.

We have a lot of Japanese beetles, but they are almost all on the porcelain party vine.  I have a trap hung nearby which is working well and it seems it is also directing them all to the party vine so they are leaving everything else on the property alone.  There are so many on the vine they are almost impossible to flick into water.  I start flicking which disturbs them and they come out in a swarm.  Good thing they don't bite.

The tall plant in the center is the wild milkweed which invited itself into the landscaping a few years ago.  Last year I did get one Monarch from it.  I haven't seen any eggs yet this year, but there is a Monarch flitting around for the past couple of days and the plant is in full bloom so it can't be missed.  I would like to relocate this plant to another spot I have picked out but with a very long tap root, they don;t transplant well.  At least I will have seeds for the first time.  That might help.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Bitter Truth

Gardening Truth:  temperatures in the eighties will make lettuce turn bitter even if it has not yet bolted.

This row of lettuce, beautiful as it is, is already too bitter to eat.  I transplanted it on the fourth of July.  This bed is the first one to get late afternoon shade making it cooler than the rest of the garden.  The plants have not bolted (begun to put out flowers).  I've kept them well watered, and still....  This is a note to self for future years.  No matter how hard you try, you will not have lettuce in July.

Now this lettuce is for sure bolted.  I pulled out the peas two nights ago and I haven't gotten a chance yet to clean the bed and plant a cover crop.  In the mean time, the lettuce is running wild.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

It Has Become Apparent

...that tomatoes in containers is the way to go.

What I need is about ten 25 gal nursery pots.  
And cages made from a roll of woven wire.  
And water reservoirs.  With the one gallon water reservoir, I just stick the hose in there in the morning and fill it up.  Every couple fo weeks you can add fertilizer right into the reservoir.When the reservoir over flows is continues to fill the pot with water from the bottom.  You can water the tomato plant completely from the bottom.  And that basically means - no soil splash up.  I've had to trim my tomato plants in the bed for blighted leaves at least once a week, and after removing the lower set of leaves on the potted plants, there has been NO yellowing at all. 

 Not that the regular bed of tomatoes is doing poorly.  
There are quite a few fruit set on every plant.  The nasturtiums are blooming

Bed #1.  Cucumbers started late in the cold frame and the last of the lettuce
Bed #2 Cucumbers.  First lettuce has been pulled out.
I need to plant bush beans
One vine is beginning to bloom

Bed #3 Wando peas eight feet+ tall and still producing

Bed #4 Easy Peasy Peas done and ready to come out

Bed #6 Sweet Corn first planting

Bed #5 Sweet Corn second planting

Bed #7 Cantaloupes
These puny little guys are beginning to bloom

Bed #8 Tomatoes and Eggplants.
Nasturtiums are blooming

Bed #9 Garden Sweet Peas done and ready to come out
I'll try these again next year on the tall trellis instead of the Wando.  Then I'll see if they are really as productive as I think they are without having to fight through the jungle.
They are sweeter than the other varieties which means you can pick them a little late without regretting it.

Bed #10 Penelope Peas done and ready to come out
These are my favorite variety.  They are good producers for their height and have long straight pods
Bed #11 Buckwheat ready to turn in and zucchini

Dunja Zucchini planted late

This is my favorite view in the garden.  Beautiful corn! 
The pumpkin vines are working their way out.

A cluster of Paul Robeson tomatoes (in container)
Bush Beans were seeded in Bed #12 this weekend and were up in three days.
The past two weeks have been short on rain.  My water tank was down by half (250 gal) but one inch of rain yesterday filled it back up in short order.