31 July 2010

the chop

I've cut some of my houseplants. First was the younger Avocado. It's beautiful little leaves just over six inches,
so I snipped the stem off. Waiting anxiously now to see it recover and branch.
My two little Geranium bonsai needed trimming again. The one from a cutting you can see has bigger leaves than the other already tree-shaped.
First I thinned the larger and crossing leaves out
then cut its stems shorter to even them up. It always feels so drastic to me to cut it back so far, but I like how the "trunk" and stems are thickening.
Of the clippings two had nice shapes
so I thought I'd salvage them and see if I can grow new little plants


Regular garden pickings again: Chard, Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes!
 Some of the Cantaloupes look almost ready!
There are lots of small ones starting on behind them, too. Sadly, some of those look sickly.
 I cut four sickly baby melons off, plus some damaged leaves. But the wilt is creeping in. My pinching of bugs is not enough control. I've found an easier way to catch them- either I pick them out of the flowers where they hide with tweezers, or move my hand under the flower. The bug sees the movement and drops off the plant- right into my palm to be squished.

But now the cucumber beetles are also into my Cucumbers, Watermelons, and the Swiss Chard. A lot of the leaves are skinny and a bit wilty, like this
and at first I thought it was just from heat. But when I cut some plants to bring inside for a frittata today I found some cuke beetles in there- I bet they're giving disease to my chard too!

I finally decided hand-picking and basil-soap spray wasn't enough. In fact, the beetles don't seem deterred at all by Marigolds, Basil or Cilantro. When I miss them on the Cantaloupes they often fly straight for a Basil plant (where they're easier to spot and nab). I'm going to have to spray an organic insecticide, but I'm worried about killing bees. Read that if you spray in the late evening, after the bees have gone home, some kinds will be dried off the flowers and not hurt the bees in the morning. I must have taught my daughter well to be a good environmentalist and organic gardener, because when she heard us talking about spraying insecticide she burst into tears! I had to explain that some are better than others, and we're going to try and find one that only hurts the bad bugs. Any recommendations?

30 July 2010

random pics

Guess what I saw in the garden yesterday! A hummingbird!! I was so surprised I just sat stock-still and watched it. It flew over and hovered a moment in front of my Cosmos flowers, then left. I wish I'd had my camera; I was too far to see the colors but it was definitely a hummingbird. I've never seen one in my yard before. Next year I'm definitely going to plant some flowers just for hummingbirds.

I found this big fat bee sitting on a green bean leaf in the early morning.
My row of Sunflowers behind the pumpkin patch is growing like crazy! I'm still not sure if they'll have enough time to flower before fall, though.
 I made another dish with Cherry Tomatoes: quesadillas! These have cheddar cheese, chopped mushrooms, and Cherry Tomatoes and Cilantro out of the garden. Yum!
I have some little Broccoli heads growing! But I don't know if they'll be nice size enough to eat.

more stuff

In this wild jumble of vines, already filling their space entirely
I have a little Watermelon growing!

29 July 2010


Even though they're still pretty small, I planted out some of my started Marigolds today.
It's supposed to rain this afternoon and again this weekend; I feel like I'd better take advantage of the cooler weather to get these in the ground.
I planted five in a line to finish up a row edging the swiss chard patch; the new little plants are so small compared to the older ones that are already full-grown and flowering!
Here's Isa planting some for herself into her own little patch of the garden, next to the green beans she's growing.

green beans

Three more of my bush Green Beans have died. The last rainstorm we had flattened them, and these the main stem snapped off at the base of the plant.
My strongest plant seems to be the aberrant one that is climbing the downspout!
And, probably not surprising, it's also giving me the best-looking most abundant crop of Green Beans. I picked all these just this morning.
I might have enough to can some after all! So... the one plant that reverted to the natural habit of climbing is doing best. Does this tell me something? Maybe I shouldn't try to grow bush beans anymore. Maybe I should save the best beans off this plant for next year's, and start growing them as pole beans like they probably were originally.

28 July 2010

basil seed

Time to start harvesting Basil seed! The plants make flowers stalks, and once the bottom of them start to turn brown, I begin picking them.
The seeds are held in the underside of these little "pockets". When they're dry the seeds turn black, then they start springing out onto the ground, so I pick the stalks when just the bottom portion is ready.
If I wait until the whole thing has gone brown, the lower half of it will have already scattered seed all over my garden.
I pull the drier end off the stems
then pick them apart to get the seeds out.
Next year's Basil, all right here!

27 July 2010


My Pumpkin patch is full of huge yellow flowers now. I wonder how many pumpkins we'll actually get? I don't see any little round fruits yet, the large leaves hide them if they're there at all.

25 July 2010

more eats

Pickings from the garden!
 Made a Chard frittata and sliced the other stuff up for fresh snacks
 along with some garden Carrots out of the crisper. The Cucumbers are delicious this year!

24 July 2010

garden eatings!

My favorite way to eat Cherry Tomatoes from the garden (besides immediate snacks) is on a pizza. A plain cheese pizza gets layered with mushrooms and little Tomatoes sliced in half
then when it's almost done I put another layer of fresh Basil leaves and a sprinkle of shredded mozarella. Yum!
Finally got enough Green Beans picked to add to a meal, just lightly steamed and salted.
And picked my first Corn!
I thought it was ready because when I punctured a kernel with fingernail milky fluid came out. But the ears are all very small, even the full ones.
Most of them only half the kernels filled out
and one had this tiny embryonic cob growing on the side of it.
They all had a mild taste- good, but not sugary sweet like the ones from the grocery store. My daughter didn't like it because it wasn't sweet enough. I thought it was tasty but perhaps I need to let it grow more before picking the ears? and I guess my self-pollination didn't work too well, though. But hey, at least I got some corn!

23 July 2010


Some random pics from my garden over the past few days.

Isabel has been finding the discarded wings of bugs. We think they're from cicadas.
 Found a new culprit of garden damage. Teensy weensy caterpillar. So small when I search all the nearby leaves I can't find anymore, even though I know they must be there because there's lots of holes in the Green Beans!
A poor young bird my cat got.
And I just love this pic. Our two cats sleeping in this little chair we keep in the mudroom, handy to sit in for putting shoes on/off. Irwin is so relaxed his head is hanging over the side!
I've missed one critter in my garden this season. Last year and the year before I always found a few preying mantids stalking through the plants. This year I haven't seen a single one. I wonder if when I cleaned up garden litter last fall I inadvertently composted a twig that had a mantis egg sac hidden on it? I do hope they come back next year, whatever happened to them.

avocado growings

I just had to take a picture of the two little leaves unfolding on top of my biggest Avocado plant.
The smaller one has nice leaves now, although it didn't grow nearly as tall before leafing out as the first.
And my last remaning pit in water is starting to crack. I just might get three good Avocado plants after all!

22 July 2010


The Tithonia are blooming in earnest now, and I find I rather like their vivid colors.

Only two plants are nice-sized like this one; the others are still only about a foot high but making buds nonteheless.
The little Crepe Myrtle piece that survived being dug and moved is blooming!
And all over my fence are clinging Morning Glories. I don't like them much because they also try to climb and strangle any plant they come across, and I fear they could pull down my fence! But my daughter loves them. I try to encourage her to pick every single flower so there won't be seed to grow more next year! I do kind of like their trumpet shapes, though.
The Cosmos are all still going strong. I like that the plants vary a bit in the color of flowers they make.
I've planted out all the newer plants but doubt they'll grow big enough to flower before cold weather comes.