Tag Archive | gardening

In the July Garden

It’s July, with lots of heat, humidity and showers, so the garden’s growing fast.  The wax beans have taken over their area and are full of blooms.  In about a week I should start harvesting beans to can for winter.  The corn did better than knee-high, it was belly button high for the Fourth of July!  The stalks are beginning to tassel.

The field pumpkins, pie and mini pumpkins are all enjoying the long, warm days.  They are rapidly spreading to fill any empty space in the garden.  I’ve seen a  few squash bugs and cucumber beetles, not as bad as some years.  Could be the plentiful rain does not agree with them.

I just finished the first thinning of the carrots, much to the rabbits’ delight.  The carrots and rainbow chard are coming along nicely.  Soon I will enjoy the first chard harvest.  Excessive rain when the chard was sprouting caused it to germinate spottily.  I will seed the empty space in the row with carrots.  They still have plenty of time to mature before fall.

The strange tendril peas are very happy growing up along the garden fence.  They are covered in blooms and will soon make the most delicious fresh peas for eating right in the garden.  The peas rarely make it up to the house to be cooked.  They are too yummy raw.

Purple peppers are starting to grow well now after a slow start.  Two were chewed off by something.  Both stems continued to live and are putting on leaves again.  Hoping to get at least one pepper each from those two damaged plants.  As you can see, I still have plenty of weeding to do!

This year the tomato patch is nice and orderly, not a jungle at all.  The plants climb up inside their cages, supported off the ground.  They already are producing lots of fruit.  I can hardly wait for my first taste of garden ripe tomato.

Now, if only the sunny weather with adequate rain continues.  And no hail storms wander our way as they did up in northern Maine a few days ago.  Quarter-sized hail hammered the area just below Moosehead Lake.  That kind of hail is devastating to gardens (and everything else in its path!)

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Garden In

I got the garden in about 10 days ago and things are starting to sprout.  This is the most exciting time in gardening for me:  the babies emerging.  We’ve had plenty of rain, although it’s not been as warm and sunny as most plants like until just recently.  A couple days of sun really made the seedlings pop.  Before I tilled the garden I saved the volunteers, little plants that sprouted from seeds produced last fall.  I got a volunteer sunflower, a head lettuce and two bachelor buttons.

The started plants I buy at a greenhouse are also in. This year I purchased Early Girl tomatoes and purple sweet peppers.  The tomatoes may look innocent right now but before long they will become a jungle.  This year I got some tomato cages which I will set soon.  These are designed to hold recumbent plants up in the air, keeping the fruit cleaner and elevating them out of the reach of rodents (hopefully!)

Something just happened to one of the little pepper plants.  There were six yesterday morning, but in the afternoon one had been nipped off about one inch above the surface and the leaves were left scattered to wizen on the ground.  I’m hoping the stub remaining might continue to grow.

Not sure what would have pulled a stunt like this.  There are no tracks, no evidence of the perpetrator of this crime. 

The corn is just emerging, the sprouts about 2″ tall.  With luck it will reach eight feet and produce two ears per stalk of indian corn for fall decorating.  The weather has been a bit chilly and damp for corn.  The crop likes heat and high humidity.  June is usually full of that sort of weather.  I hope so.  I need these to be knee high by the Fourth of July.

This year I’ve planted lots of wax bush beans.  They are emerging well.  Sure hope the pepper murderer doesn’t start on them!  I want to can a couple dozen pints of beans this year if the plants cooperate.  Here is a baby bean just beginning to unfold.

Once more I’ve planted those strange tendril peas.  My granddaughters and I love to eat the peas raw right off the vine.  These peas are masses of curling tendrils with hardly any leaves.  They hold on to each other and don’t require supports to grow off the ground.  I’ve planted mine right beside the garden fence.  They will quickly grab onto the slats and haul themselves all the way to the top.  These pea sprouts are about one inch high.

My garden is planted to three types of pumpkins:  field for Halloween, small, sweet ones for pie and mini Jacks for fall decorating.  So far the field pumpkins have begun emerging.  These can take a couple weeks to come up, with the mini ones being the slowest to germinate.

Rainbow chard is up.  These babies are about an inch high.  They grow to over a foot long in no time.  Can hardly wait, I love me some fresh steamed chard! Or raw in salad, or blanched with a little salt and butter.  Hmm, I’m starting to get hungry.  The rainbow selection is a mix of three different plant stem colors, white, red and orange.A surprise was that the carrots are also up.  It usually takes them the longest to sprout, sometimes over two weeks.  These guys are in a hurry, I guess.  Probably the ample moisture from the excessive rain has brought them on quickly.  The carrots are the light green plants.  There are also baby crab grass and one little pig weed among the carrots.  Also, there is what appears to be a white caterpillar wandering by.  Could this be the suspect in the pepper murder???  Not too likely; caterpillars usually eat leaves.Beyond vegetables, I’ve planted some flower seeds to bring a little color to the garden.  There are sunflowers planted along the perimeter.  Also, I dropped in some nasturtiums, marigolds and zinnias.  The flowers encourage bees and butterflies to visit as well as brightening the space.  The flowers have not sprouted yet.

There are feathers in a few of the photos.  These came from the chicken manure I spread on the vegetable patch last fall.  Chicken fertilizer is great for the garden.  It’s got a good nitrogen content and very few weed seeds.  Since I substituted chicken for horse manure in the garden, there has been a noticeable reduction in weeds.  Chicken manure=happy plants and a happy gardener!

 

Morning on the Farm

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It’s a beautiful July morning, sunny with a bit of a breeze.  The dew is still on the grass.  Time to do the farm chores.  When I step out the door, snapdragons and a heliotrope greet me.  The blue flowers have a wonderful, sweet fragrance.

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Otto and Holly tag along.  They love to follow me everywhere.

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The fig tree has four good-sized fruit with many more small ones on the way.  Time to give this tree some fertilizer to help ripen the crop before frost.

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My new yard centerpiece, impatiens on a log.  They actually sit on the septic tank clean-out cover, marking it so nothing heavy (like a tractor or horse) goes across it.

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Day lilies and bee balm brighten the garden beneath the crabapple tree.

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Vista and Maddie, hard at work mowing the orchard.  Cheap laborers who love their job.

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Kai and Cary are out enjoying a little morning sun before their major nap of the day.

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The black raspberries are ripening!  Time to make some jelly.

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Black-eyed Susans make a lovely wildflower accent beside the iris bed.

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The recent rain has spurred the garden to exuberant growth, both vegetables and weeds.

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Finally made it to the barn!  The first and third chick hatch eat together peacefully.  The second hatch is too busy catching bugs and hasn’t responded to the breakfast call yet.

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Little guys and big sisters share the water dish.

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Someone else would like to have breakfast with the chickens.  Two chipmunks live in our barn.  They were being pretty decent little guys until one decided to chew the nozzle off a gas can.  Not sure what the attraction was, hydrocarbons?  Maybe it’s time to bring home a Barn Friend cat from the Humane Society to send the chipmunks packing?

With all the distractions, it’s a wonder I ever get the barn chores finished!

 

 

Garden’s In

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After much weed pulling, tilling and fence installation, the garden was ready to plant last week.  It took two days to get all the seeds in the earth.  The weather has been so dry for so long that the dirt was like talcum powder.  I watered after planting to give the seeds a start.

The weather forecast was for rain over the past weekend and through most of this week.  Happily, we finally got a good soaking yesterday afternoon and overnight.  It poured!  Now the sprouts will start to pop up.

g2It is time to set the last of the plants in the garden:  the tomato and red pepper seedlings.  These came from a greenhouse last week and have been hardening off outside in the shade, preparing for the harsh conditions in the full sun and open air.  The tomatoes already have flowers!  The variety is Early Girl, a nice medium-sized tomato that is very early.  Usually I get my first fruit by mid-late July.  Yum, can hardly wait for that juicy, home-grown taste!

Planting Time

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Here are some of the seeds I’ll be planting today.  Just seeing all that lovely produce inspires me to get out there and weed and till!

Currently the garden is little more than a 50 foot square spot of dirt choked with weeds and overgrown with Jerusalem artichokes in one corner.  The area will quickly transform, with my exertions, into a fenced spot of fresh earth marked with rows of newly sown seed.a1The spring has been cool and dry, again.  Chance of frost still exists, but I’m willing to get started now.  Tomorrow’s forecast is rainy, perfect for jump-starting plants.  Next week I will put the tender tomato and pepper seedlings in the ground.

By the first week of June we should be safe from frost.  Yesterday was 86F, with lots of sun.  Today is cloudy and mid-fifties.  The weather is so changeable in Maine in spring that it doesn’t do to take something like last frost dates for granted.

Figs Ripening!

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It’s very exciting for me!  My first figs are ripening!  They are getting a pretty pink blush.  When the color is mahogany they will be ready to pick!!  The little tree is ripening six fruit.  Can hardly wait to eat them.  I bought some fresh figs are the grocery store last week.  They were sad, wrinkled and over-ripened things, but still better than dried figs.

The fig tree is in a race with the weather.  Temperatures have remained warmer than normal here. We’ve gotten several light frosts, mostly right around the full moons.  Covering the tree at night with an old bed sheet has spared it from being nipped by frost.  If the temperatures dip any lower than about 28F, I will have to move the tree inside.

The full sun it receives outside is spurring the fruit ripening, I sure.  Moving the tree inside will shock it some and cause it to drop the leaves quickly.  Not sure what that will do to my fruit.  I’m rooting for warm weather to continue for at least a couple more weeks.  If past weather patterns hold, it will stay warm right up to late October.  We have been getting warm, wet autumns and cool, dry springs for the past several years.  Keeping my fingers crossed for figs!

What’s New in the Garden

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At the beginning of September, the weather still is in high summer mode.  Yesterday was nearly 90F with high humidity and today won’t be much cooler.  The garden plants are taking full advantage of these few remaining warm days, ripening their fruits and grains.  Today I will pick the wax beans and hope to get enough for dinner.  I leave the plants in the ground as long as they want to blossom.  They still produce some, just not the abundance of their main crop.

gar2The tomatoes are producing well.  I harvest them before they are completely ripe to stay ahead of rodent varmints that eat holes in the juicy red fruit.  Most of the foliage has disappeared from the tomatoes, I suspect hornworms have been at work.  They can strip the leaves overnight.  With the fruit so close to maturity, the foliage is not that important any more.

gar4I counted six big pumpkins ripening!  Plenty to fill our Halloween needs. The largest pumpkin must weigh about 15-20 lbs and is just starting to get an orange cast to the skin.  As temperatures cool the orange will spread quickly.

gar7gar8There are also winter squash, an acorn variety, and Jack-Be-Little miniature pumpkins coming along. It was a slow year for squash so there are less than usual. I planted seeds on the manure pile from a mutant squash that volunteered last year.  It was a cross of a pumpkin and summer squash.  Some fruit is visible, growing quickly.  Will have to wait and see what is produced.

gar6The Indian corn is loaded with large ears thanks to hot and humid days throughout much of July and August.  It looks to be a good harvest.  I will cut the corn in mid-September as soon as the ears ripen fully.

gar3I am happy to report three peppers grew! One has already been consumed–it was delicious.  This one is getting large and there is one more very small pepper coming along.  Next year I will grow peppers differently. They will be set closer together, better mulched and well watered during hot spells.

gar5The Jerusalem artichokes make a gorgeous display, all covered in yellow blossoms.  Here the horses graze the lawn in the background.  I am planning to move the artichokes from the garden.  They are too invasive and require excessive space.

From their humble beginnings as a few bare roots and stems pulled from an abandoned strip of grass near a stop sign in Waterville, these plants have become a major success story.  They will be established in an area that allows for their aggressive spreading.  I am convinced the plants emit chemicals into the soil that retard the growth of other plants.  Carrots growing within two feet of the artichokes are struggling.  This plant will hold it’s own against grass and weeds in a different part of the farm.

Another bright yellow, tall flowering plant, the sunflowers bloom in profusion.  They are visible in the background of the first photo.  Little birds visit the plants all day.  They clean the black oil seeds from the flower heads as quickly as they form.  The birds need this rich nutrition to get in shape for their long flight to warmer winter quarters.

Later today I will pick all the ripe or near ripe tomatoes and perhaps clip a few lovely zinna flowers for decorating the table.moth4