26 September 2020

lavender cookies

The lavender is so pretty I wanted to make use of it. Had a nice long hot soak in a bath with a handful of sprigs scenting the water. And the other day made cookies. I love shortbread, but it's so fattening- I think I've only made it two or three times, less than once a year! So earlier this week I made lavender shortbread cookies, as a little something special on the day of equinox. For this I picked the most tender young leaves-
chopped fine-
mixed into the dough and chilled- I don't often do this kind of baking so slicing chilled dough felt fancy to me!
Ready to bake-
All done- wow, it was delicious. 
Tasted more like lemon cookies, though- the recipe I used called for lemon zest I substituted lemon juice and it was too much. I'd rather have have more of the flower flavor. Going to adjust next time.

nearing the end

of this season for the garden. I don't think I'm going to get any more tomatoes, and don't know how long the sunberry and amaranth will last.
Some things are still thriving- carrots! Haven't pulled a single one yet. I think they will taste better if I let them grow in the cooler weather a while.
Most of the herbs are still giving me flavor, although basil is looking sad now, lemon balm had a revival-
Other herbs still getting regular use in the kitchen- here a bit of parsley, chives and lovage I cut recently
Not in the garden but near it- the hollyhock mallow (zebrina flower) has doubled in size again. Only one lived. I doubt it will bloom now. I just read that in some areas this can be a pernnial- so maybe next year?
I do finally have flowers from the other one I planted late- cardinal climber! A few of the buds open in the middle of the day now
This one's grown up to the deck railing. I leaned through to get this photo.
View from below is pretty too-
I'm definitely growing this one next year. Just going to get an earlier start on it!

um, grass . . .

Kind of embarrassing to go out and kneel on the edge of the driveway to pull crabgrass by hand for an hour. That area I had cleared and reseeded last year, that sprang up all bright, pretty vivid green? It died in the summer heat. There's pretty much only this one tuft left.
However, the seed I scattered all through the rest of the front yard seems to have taken in most spots- the bare patches have all filled in. With crabgrass again as well, unfortunately (though it does seem less thick than last year, hard to tell. Definitely less of it in the back yard now, where I've been catching the clippings when there are seedheads present). So now I'm pulling up crabgrass again- making bare areas and reseeding them with this variety that's supposed to have deep, drought-resistant roots, and send runners out underground to spread and fill in on its own accord-
Started out alongside the driveway once more. If this area takes well (and lasts thru next summer) then I'll go ahead and pull/reseed another section. At least I know what works now, to get the grass seed to grow. I did it the same: mix equal amounts seed, compost and ashes, scattered evenly over the bare, raked ground, mulch lightly with crushed dry leaves, water regularly.

25 September 2020

little prickly

Found a few little hollies growing here and there on edges of the yard. I dug some up and transplanted them to spots where I wouldn't mind having a shrub to fill in space or shield from neighbor's view.
I especially like this one that has lighter color to some leaves.
Done this before and lost track of where the plant is, or it died or got out-competed by nearby plants. This time I took more care in their placement (nothing else nearby), gave a mulch of broken twigs and have been watering when it's dry for a week, a bit more care maybe they will make it.

24 September 2020

a few around the yard-

Photos from when I was doing work planting the week before- I noticed my lady's mantle plants are all withered or eaten. It didn't do well, which disappoints me. However, the stinking hellebores look fine! and I liked their different look, the blue-green hue. Want more.
This plant has cropped up again in various places. I let it grow, especially near the garden. It still seems to attract pests away from other plants.
I found this- I do believe it's a chocolate joe pye weed seedling!
And this one, which I pulled up. Looks awfully familiar. Maybe scion of the forsythia?
Young pokeweed that sprang up in a corner of the garden- next to a marigold. I let it be for a while.
Those cuban oregano cuttings I took and stuck in the dirt next to some garden edges, are growing just dandy.

new volunteer

I saw this plant on the far side of the rear perennial bed, and it looked kinda attractive so I left it alone.
A closer look- it has these odd papery things growing on it, hanging below the foliage.
My first thought was tomatillos, or chinese lantern plant- both which I've heard of, but never seen in person before. Looked stuff up- it doesn't match either of those. It might just be a native ground cherry. Which is edibe and apparently has amazing tropical flavor. I'll have to wait and see how these develop.

23 September 2020

sunberries

aka wonderberry. Still haven't eaten beyond a taste when the first few came ripe. I had been picking a small handful every few days and adding to a container in the freezer.
Then learned that they ought to be very dark and lackluster at picking- that's when fully ripe. Some I gathered earlier still had flush of purple or even green. I sifted through the container and discarded about half. Then left more on the plant to ripen as full bunches. Only then more got ruined by insects or started decaying by the time I plucked the whole bunch off-
out of that batch, only these were good:
So I'm back to picking individual berries again, only waiting until they're fully dark now.

22 September 2020

pile of beans

This was one day's harvest. And then it started slowing down.
I'm trying to go out there more often to pick them when they're smaller, save up for a few days in the fridge to have enough until we eat them. At this size they're a bit coarse texture even with the strings pulled off. But I baked some in a casserole and it was great that way. (These are steamed with bit of salt and butter)
While out there snipping off sickly-looking leaves (I find this keeps the spread of pathogen in check- which I think is caused by the stink bugs) I also cut off these mottled bean pods. I thought they looked moldy.
Actually now I think they were just going through color changes as maturing? I split them open curious to see how the seed was forming, and it looked great- but not good to save yet. They weren't quite plump and all felt a bit soft or squishy.
Oddly I found two that appeared to be sprouting inside their pods- from the moisture of recent rain? The sprout wasn't coming from the attachment point where the bean was connected inside the pod, but to the side of that spot.
Anyhow, all the beans that got too big before I picked, I've left to mature on the vines and many of them are getting the same mottled look now. Soon to quit watering and just let them all develop seed.

20 September 2020

insect life

Another swamp cicada.
Red-spotted purple butterfly (a swallowtail lookalike)
Monarch just emerging from its chrysalis under a daylily leaf.
Small butterfly with gray/russet checkered undersides to the wings- on my sweet potato vine. I think a skipper.
Found another tomato hornworm- on the sunberry bush. I don't mind if it eats some of the sunberry leaves. 
I let it alone. Because I would so like to see a sphynx moth (aka hawkmoth)
Closeup swallowtail caterpillar on the rue
Cicada wings on windowsill. The one I photographed last week must've been at the end of its life- probably why it didn't move much. Something ate it and left just the wings intact among debris.

fall blooms

More zinnias! 
I still cut a few for inside the house.
Celosia took me by surprise. These sprang up self-seeded after I pulled out the bug-ridden borage. Grew very quickly. 
Some even have the convoluted 'cockscomb' or 'brain flower' look. Might just let them grow on their own every year, instead of painstakingly starting them as seedlings in spring.
Lovely petals like crepe paper, rose-of-sharon
Even though it just got planted a week ago, 
my wandflower bloomed!
Liriope is making purple spires
and japanese salvia softer yellow ones- 
Some of my nasturtium plants recovered from the heat (and I sprayed for bugs)-
a week later-
The cardinal climber has wound all the way up to my deck railing
and one on the other fence is actually flowering now!
Thickets of turtlehead. 
Even the small patch at the very far back of the yard did better this year. Because I swiped off a lot of mealy bugs on stems early in the season? or because more sun reaches them now... 
Pannicle hydrangeas-
'Autumn Joy' sedums. Some are more pink than others.
Summersweet had plenty more flowers this year and occasionally I paused in the very back of the yard to lean into their vanilla scent. 
There's also marigolds and nicotiana of course... . .