Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trouble With Tomatoes : End of July in the Vegetable Garden

Despite the fact that Junior has been able to pick some cherry tomatoes, there seems to be something up with the plants. The fruit is ripening painfully slow, the blossoms are blooming and then shriveling up and turning brown, and two plants look like they already have blight. And the year seemed so promising! 

Here's a look at what is (mostly) growing in the garden.

Lucky boy. He gobbles up the ripe tomatoes faster than you can yell "STOP!"

I reached for the compost bin and pulled out some black gold. I made piles around all of the tomatoes and sort of scratched it in with a cultivator. 

This 'Cherokee Purple' is the most tragic. It looks like it already has late blight. Hopefully the compost, as well as some crushed egg shells, will help add nutrients back into the soil. With all the rain we had a while back I'm afraid a lot has been leeched from the soil.

The problem of the blossoms drying up is hopefully a pollination problem. Tomatoes are self pollinating, but perhaps the wind hasn't shaken them enough and the bees have been drawn to stronger smelling blooms? I don't know. The vines are now getting a good shake every day.
The lettuce and mesclun bolted during the hot spell, so I've cleared the bed and will replant next week. I also hope to replant some beets as well.

The 'Kentucky Wonder' pole beans have grown as tall as they can. Now we just need to wait for the beans to come!

In the meantime the 'French filet' are almost ready. 

We've begun to harvest the wax beans.

And the purple beans have been giving us a steady supply for weeks.

The borage is blooming, and the bees seem to like it.

Such vibrant little flowers.

And the Orienpet lilies are rather marvelous. I just hope their fragrance hasn't pulled all the pollinators to them, rather than simply drawing them to the garden.

Even as it fades, a 'Casablanca' lily is lovely.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trimming the Ivy and Planning Some Changes at the Theatre

Tuesday seemed like the hottest day ever, but it was the only day I could go give the Theatre it's annual "Ivy Trim". Usually this is done in June, and I had really let things go. I only had my phone with me, so forgive the photos!

This should never have gotten this out of hand.

Progress! I do like the ivy falling over the wall a bit.

Especially these nice, white veined Hedera helix vines. Hedera is the generic name for ivy, and helix comes from the ancient Greeks meaning "twist" or "turn".

All cleaned up. I left that little violet growing in the crack at the edge of the sidewalk to see if she blooms next year.

You can even see the built in lights once again!

Now I'm trying to figure out a way to solve this troublesome area. There were once some hostas and a few daylilies and some ground cover. However, with no constant watering through dry spells I'm afraid we've lost almost everything except a few stragglers. This may be a perfect place for a succulent wall.

Especially since we have so much of this guy already growing in another bed! I'm going to work on dividing a bit of this up, as well as some sedum and creepers from my Garden, and perhaps some hen and chicks. It will be a big project, because it's a very long wall, but I think if we can stay on top of the weeds for the first few years, the creeping succulents will grow in in no time! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Late Bloomers

Yet another amaryllis has waited until it was good and ready to bloom, and that is fine by me. It's always a welcome surprise to be able to bring a big, gorgeous bloom inside no matter what time of year. This Lady Jane double amaryllis has been putting on a show for almost a week, now. When she's finished, it's back to summer camp for her until I put them all away in the cabinet to begin the process of forcing them all over again.

What a big, boisterous bloom!

And then, just yesterday, I spied another. I think this one might be an all white 'Christmas Story' amaryllis. We will have to wait and see.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Berries, Berries, and More Berries

The time has arrived, and things are crazy in the Berry Patch. Every single day raspberries need to be picked. Thankfully the currants seem to ripen all at once, although the three bushes next to the Vegetable Garden ripened before the three in the Berry Patch. Now I need to focus on moving bulbs out of the center area and get all of the new strawberry plants in the ground, as well as make room for the lone gooseberry that still needs to be planted. So much to do! 

Thankfully it's only July!

The Red Lake currants ripened fatter and were much more plentiful than ever before.

And the golden raspberries have never produced more than a handful of berries. Now it's a little over a handful a day for the past week or so. Still not a huge amount, but a great amount for a little backyard Berry Patch!

The 'Cumberland' black raspberries, planted years and years ago, have rebounded this year after a rather poor harvest last summer due to the drought. The berries are big and juicy!

The red raspberries are still a bit slow to produce. 'Heritage' is the first to ripen, and either myself or Junior tend to eat what we pick instantly. Maybe next year we will have an actual harvest.

One day's worth of berries. The currants are off of two of the six bushes. 

I ate these while I was picking the currants off their stems.

These were frozen and added to the others already in their freezer bags.
Ruby red and plump!

The berries form on stems called racemes, and usually hold 3 to 10 berries.

Once removed from the racemes, they are spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and frozen. 

After they are frozen solid, into freezer bags they go! Now they are ready to be used all year in jelly or tarts or maybe to muddle with sugar in a vodka soda.

Next up? The gooseberries...