Monday, July 31, 2006

Other Pumpkins

May as well capture the other pumpkins as of today. The first is Snackjack, in the main garden.

The pumpkin patch is filling in with Dill's Atlantic which finally has the first potential pumpkin showing. At least it is a start, a tiny start.

Wyatt's Wonder is also in the pumpkin patch with a similar potential pumpkin. Both were planted in mid June, later than planned. Last year, they moved along quite quickly after they reached this point so I'm still hoping for Halloween pumpkins.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Answer is in the Pumpkins

The volunteer "what is it" plant I posted here, now has lots of these cute little pumpkins hiding among the leaves. Thanks to those who suggested giving it a little more time. The bees must have finally made it to the last row in the garden (but too late for the one on the left).
It is also continuing to GROW over its neighbors. Even the zucchini plants across the aisle are getting nervous.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Incredible (Dwarf) Sunflower

I've thought about a separate blog to post a sunflower picture daily. I love these strong silent giants from sprout to empty seed head, and the bees and birds that they bring around too. This one isn't so giant and it has an unusual green & yellow face (compare to #1 Sunflower). It is in the volunteer sunflower area so I wondered how I could get one like this as a volunteer when I didn't have one like this last year. And what a shorty. Here, I'm standing over it. You can also see some of the other flower buds coming along.

Then I remembered I had mixed all of the old seeds I had collected over the years and stuck them throughout the garden, not knowing if any would grow. I hunted down the empty packets and this one is probably the incredible Dwarf Sunflower.Here it is after it opened up further. Someone told me giant sunflowers were scary to them as a child. The incredible Sunflower might be a more child friendly version of this fun plant.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Lavender Excursion II

Our last stop was Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm in Sequim, Washington. Lavender for cutting but also gardens around the farmhouse with many lavender varieties and herbs mixed in. Above, taken from a lower path in front of the house so that's why the bee's eye view. As herbs grow as they like, the paths redirected around large, old lavenders. My type of garden - self-changing paths like the moving stairs of Harry Potter. Guess we have that in the garden, but they just move at a plant's pace. Of course, you know what happens when you walk down skinny paths among the herbs. Abundant aromas all around!
Flowerpot bread at the Petals Restaurant which also uses the herbs only steps away. Yea, a little cute, but also good.From our table, we had a show by the bees and birds out for their evening hunt in and under the plants in this border. For me, there couldn't have been a finer spot after a day of lavender and gardens.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Lavender Excursion

Earlier this month, we took an excursion to Sequim WA to visit a few lavender farms and do some geocaching (or as I like to say, garden tours by GPS). We took out the boat and a few hundred of our closest friends and headed off across Puget Sound from Seattle. Just kidding, of course. We took a Washington State Ferry, like the one below, coming from our destination.It was a bright, sunny day and I didn't well capture the colors, warmth and aromas of the day with the lavender, herbs and sea air. And ooh, the bee activity of course! Your gardener's imagination will have to take it from here... Self-pick bundles were $5 and one owner sent me back out to better fill out my bundle. I also returned with dreams of the herb, lavender and flower beds as seen around the farms and some lavender plants of course. And isn't this a great new life for old windows! There are build-in benches on both sides of the windows. Something to think about beyond coldframes.
Part two will be the next post.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wow! But what is it?

The zucchini harvest started Sunday night. I thought I gave the 4 plants plenty of room but now the cosmos and another sunflower are competing. We don't really need 4 productive plants anyway.

What is this happy grower neighboring the zucchini?

It must have sprouted from aged fall gourds/squash or pumpkins that I used for decoration until past their prime, and then tossed them into the future bed area to compost in place. It is bushing, not vining, but the cosmos and sunflowers near it don't have a chance! Lots of blossoms, but nothing seems to be muturing enough to tell what it will become. I don't want it to cause problems crossing with the pumpkins.

Should it stay or should it go? If there are lots of blooms & lots of bees but no maturing produce - is it likely never to produce (i.e. it should go)?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What color is your world?

I've noticed in the evenings that some bees seem to park themselves at a favorite flower so they are ready to go in the morning (well, it might be for other bee reasons). Hey, I thought, here's one hanging out for the evening and even I can get a shot of him. I reached out to touch him and I noticed he wasn't hanging out by choice! This the second white spider I had seen around the lamb's ears that day. Do the spiders know they are that color, or are they naturally attracted to it (as I've heard pets may prefer bedding that matches their fur). Actually, this crab spider is supposed to be able to slowly alter its colors to match surrounding plants. This comes in handy because they are slow moving and built to simply wait and grab. They don't have to wait long for a bee in the herb bed!
Their venom is powerful enough to quickly subdue prey much larger than themselves so they don't wrap it in silk. Prey insects, notably honey bees, butterflies, flies and beetles, are grabbed by the spiders' spiny front legs and immediately bitten on the head area. The venom acts quickly to subdue the prey, which is eaten at once. Venom and digestive juices liquefy the insect's internal tissues, which the spider sucks up, leaving an empty but life-like husk. (...info from various web sites).

Think I'll stick to vegetables... and be more careful when petting the lamb's ears and bees.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hello Sunflower

These last two warm days helped #1 volunteer sunflower open up further. Her parents are somewhere in this collection from last year and here.

I took this photo tonight even though it was getting a little dark. Then I stood in the middle of the bed for the longest time trying to photograph the stationary bee on top (too stuffed to fly?), just behind the petals (no success with the focus & light, though). Hopefully, the neighbors are ignoring this behavior by now - but stop by tomorrow to see the latest garden bug drama!

My nightly routine... leading the wayward runner beans back to the fence and then hurrying in to grab the camera for something needing capturing while it's still there.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Countdown to Sunflowers...

What will it take? One more sunny day? This is the volunteer that has taken up residence next to the peas. The volunteers all have many blossoms along the main stems. I've had to trim a few shoots heading into the pathways and into the tomato, but otherwise I'll leaving them to do their thing.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Go Beans Go!

Hey, beans are as much fun to watch grow as pumpkins! These pole beans are over my head now and just keep going up. The runner beans are not as tall yet and have to be reminded that they are supposed to climb vs. wave around no where close to the fence. Well, they are RUNNER beans so maybe climbing isn't their first choice.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Great Berries (if you're a bird)

The berries on the Cascara trees are getting ripe enough for the Cedar Waxwings. These are small trees native to the Northwest that are growing along the fence in the garden. The berries will continue to ripen to a darker shade, but the birds don't wait. I don't see them much except at this time and I really enjoy these beautiful birds.

No way I can get a decent picture, but here is a link: Cedar Waxwings. There are always a number of them together and they seem to be having such a jolly time. Their distinctive call is usually the first thing I notice and then soon see them flying to & around these trees. Nice to have them in the garden with me this evening.

Good Morning

Here is the new area with the mulched pumpkin patch and the gourd/sunflower bed (and Emily the mole watcher) across the fence from the rest of the garden. Dear Husband has added a nice shelf to the fence in this area now, holding here coffee and the lavender starts moved out of the cold frame. And here are the self-seeders that came up from last year's sunflowers! In the middle of this group of sunflowers is a wire tomato cage, containing one short tomato plant. Sorry, but if it comes down to one or the other, I cannot say no to these sunflowers. They will lose a few leaves, though, to see if the tomato can share this space.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Friend or Foe?

Post update: Friend! These appear to be Soldier Beetles, Family Cantharidae, also known as Leatherwing Beetles. Thanks Angela, of Angela's Northern California Garden Blog. According to the link she left me, soldier beetles prey upon aphids, caterpillars, grasshopper eggs and beetle larvae, among other insects around the garden. How to attract: Since some soldier beetles feed on nectar, you may be able to attract them with flowering plants. (Parsley nectar seems to be quite agreeable to them.)
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What are these bugs that like to hang out on the parsley? They don't seem to damage the parsley, but will I regret having them around later?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Here's Herbert!

I think Garter Snakes are camera shy because they know their colors just don't capture well. Herbert has distinctive red stripe where as Petunia is more yellow/orange. We moved the COLD FRAME for the summer and found Herbert sleeping beneath it. It took him (?) a few minutes to wake up and decide which way to go, so I had time to grab the camera (after a little scream of course). We see others around the yard, but these two stay around the garden.

Here is the link to a picture similar to PETUNIA.
Here is the link to the first year notes about PETUNIA and HERBERT.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Which way to the garden?

We invited friends to make signs at our BARN WARMING last fall. Of course, we didn't know what the signs would say, or exactly what we'd do with them. Now it is time to put them in place. Stay tuned..

Of course, this one had to be updated for the new blog...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tart Cherry Sauce

We've found the dessert these beautiful (but tart) cherries were made for ... warm cherry sauce with angel food cake and a little ice cream. What a nice treat to end this warm, sunny day.

Cherry Sauce (from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 cups fresh pitted tart cherries
1 tablespoon orange or cherry liqueur, cherry brandy, or orange juice (I used a little Black Forest Kirschwasser, and my source may need to send more before cherry season is over)
Stir together sugar and cornstarch in saucepan; stir in water. Add cherries. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in the liqueur, brandy or juice. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature.

Dear Husband picked lots of cherries while I was gone this evening so tomorrow, we'll try a cobbler. Or more cherry sauce along with something dark chocolate...