Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Late Bloomer

I am very happy to have a nicotiana sylvestris blooming in the garden now. Last year, my neighbor gave me some of her seedlings. I was amazed at the size they grew to be and their evening fragrance. My neighbor thinks they have alien qualities. They grow quite tall and their sticky "skin" means they tend to grab hold when you get too close.

Even though I collected seeds, I didn't get them planted in this year's garden. I was happy to see seedlings appear and then a quickly growing flower stalk. There might be another one that will make it to flowering also. I hope they'll plant themselves again, but next year, I'll make sure I plant some seeds also. The garden and gardener would miss them.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Goodbye Beans

Another year for the lovely runner beans is about over. And the hummingbirds have enjoyed them again, too (see a visit from last year here). The day I took this photo, some weeks ago now, I was using a ladder to reach the highest beans. The HB sat in the tree nearby and screeched at me until I got down. No blossoms are left now and the remaining beans are a bit tough. Not much longer and I'll be cleaning off the structure for the winter. The runner beans and the violet podded pole beans had good harvests. The helda pole beans quickly matured and I didn't seem to get them picked at the right time. Next year, I will planting fewer beans and see if can keep up with them better.

This afternoon in the garden, we watched the chickadees eating sunflower seeds and a hummingbird visiting the blooming flowers. We also saw another hummingbird at the fuchsias on the patio. I don't recall when I stopped seeing them last year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Only Cosmos

Remember this post, when I realized the cosmos crop was not going to appear this year? This is the one cosmos that made it from seed to flower, but isn't she a beauty? This photo was taken one evening last week. It is growing among some anise hyssop and delicata squash and adds a nice bright spot in that corner of the garden.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunflowers for Rainy Days

This sunflower seems to be the star of dark and gray days. This photo is from a dark day at the end of August. The sun would break through for a moment and make these flowers glow. Today, we didn't have any sun breaks in the misty day, but I could see the blossoms on this plant from the garage window and it called me out to visit.

I thought this was an Italian White Sunflower from seeds I ordered this year. See the Italian White from last year's garden here. Now I'm thinking it may be Valentine, also ordered this year. This one has grown to about 7 feet tall, but unlike the other sunflowers, it has these graceful stalks that hold up the 4-6 inch flowers very nicely. More for cut flowers than seeds, I think, but I will check for seed production in the older flower heads next time I'm out there.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pumpkin Shine

The pumpkin patch is a bright spot as the days take longer and longer to burn off the misty morning gray. As the end of the green beans is in sight, I'm looking forward to nice pumpkin and spice treats in the months ahead. And the green beans in the freezer will be a treat again about January!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Meet Petunia

Some people may wonder about the real Petunia in Petunia's Garden. She's a garter snake that moved in the first year we created a couple garden beds. I've received a few e-mails about growing petunias, probably when this blog popped up in someone's search. Maybe Petunia should reply and include her photo in the message. That might be a surprise.

Apparently, the snakes finally got tired of waiting for summer too and decided to get about their business anyway. We've been seeing them more lately than we have all summer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Winter Supply (for Somebody)

A few weeks ago, I trimmed back some of the sunflowers and placed the seed heads on this old gate to dry in the sun. I would move it inside the barn at night to avoid the dew (& mildew).

After one drying day, I decided to just place it in the open, but covered stall area outside the barn. This way it would get air but little dew.

A few days later, I went to have a look. Here is what I found....

What does this say about the winter ahead? I would really like to see where the squirrel (I assume) has stashed all of the seed heads! One day, I'm sure we'll find the remains somewhere.

Still, this is better then a visit by the predator the Homesteading neighbors posted about here!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Saucy Blackberries

The blackberries don't seem to have benefited from our cool summer and regular rain. They just don't seem as sweet and rewarding (for putting up with their bad habits) as in some past years. But, one doesn't have fresh blackberries just any time so we made our first batch of blackberry sauce last night and had it still slightly warm over ice cream. It also gave me a chance to try out my new to me, old Vita Craft ricer/vegetable/fruit press, bowl and bowl cover. My mother and grandmother had bought several Vita Craft items in the late 1940's or early 1950's. I brought several items back with me from my trip to Kansas in June. The stovetop & oven pans held up great over the years but their bakelite and thermoplax handles didn't age so well. This press, however, looked just like what I needed to deal with blackberry seeds.

Also above, and part of the preparation, is the blender DH's parents passed on to him when he moved out in 1986. We don't know the year, but it is an Osterizer Galaxie model. With a new gasket for the bottom of the glass part, it has served us well since. After a quick blend, I poured the blackberries into the press and lightly rolled around the wooden roller. It quickly drained and the seeds actually stuck to the roller, photo below, which made them very easy to wipe off. Much better than the sieve I've used in the past.
To finish up the sauce, I heated the blackberries, sugar and a little cornstarch in a saucepan. It was good enough that I didn't complain too much about picking a few remaining thorns out of my hands this morning.

I've heard this press is great for apple sauce too. We should have some apples ready about the time we tired of blackberries.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sound the Alarm

Powdery Mildew! A sure sign that summer is transitioning to autumn. (& I'm not ready for this, but I do like the fall season.) Some humid days and cool nights we've had aren't helping.

Innocent enough looking at this stage, but don't be fooled. It will spread rapidly to the favorite host plants in the garden. For me that is the delicata squash, cucumbers, and eventually the zucchini (the zucchini variety I'm growing this is supposed to be PM tolerant, though).

So what to do? In my live and let live garden where the squash and cucumbers ramble out of their beds and across walkways, I did jump in the tangle with the snippers and opened up the walkway. This should improve air flow around the plants. I also snipped & removed some of the leaves with PM or other injuries to improve air flow within the plant (these don't go into the compost either). Then I mixed up a water and baking soda mixture (sometimes a little dish soap to help it stick) and sprayed many of the leaves. The baking soda apparently changes the pH level on the surface of the leaves enough to discourage PM.

But then it rained... so I'll check up on them today.

All I try to do is hold it at bay long enough to keep the plant reasonably happy and comfortable until the last of their days and the end of the harvest. If it gets really bad, I remove the plant. Not willing to start spraying anything stronger than baking soda. By then, we're ready to move on to eating something else anyway!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Above the Mole's Garden

After we left the Mole's Garden that I posted about yesterday, the gardens of the earth and sky were even more pleasing to the eye.
The brown shed-like structure in the bottom right corner above is a snow shed big enough for a train to go under. They were used (& often destroyed) in drifting snow & avalanche prone areas to keep the tracks open for business. This one now makes for a good geocache landmark.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Mole's Garden Tour

Dear Husband led us and our neighbors off on a geocaching hunt yesterday. Either a few miles or more miles depending on which side of this tunnel we started on. We started on the side furthest from the geocaches, of course, so we walked this tunnel twice. This is Snoqualmie Tunnel, opened in 1914 for train traffic under Snoqualmie Pass. Now, it is the nation's longest tunnel open to nonmotorized traffic. It's 2.3 miles long. Below, you can see the light from the other end & see DH if you look carefully. The metal piping & overhead fencing was only in this section close to the entrance (maybe because you couldn't SEE the overhead old concrete in the dark inner tunnel ...he he he; but I suspect this part was subject to more seeping water damage).
Yep.... there is the other end, below. We're still on the right track....
There was a small geocache inside the tunnel and we did remember our flashlights. As a former train track bed, the trail grade changes gradually so it is nice for walking or biking (we were walking). Altogether, the trail is over 100 miles and is called the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.
Now off to a few other caches further down the trail, before the return trip through the tunnel.

Stop by tomorrow for the above ground garden part of the geocaching trip (i.e. garden tours by GPS). It was fun having the neighbors along on the excursion (and bet they'll remember to add 5 miles to any future walking estimates we give)!

Click on the Geocaching Tours label for postings of other tours.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Cedar Waxwings

Every summer around July the cedar waxwings visit the cascara trees in Petunia's Garden to munch on the ripening berries (Rhamnus purshiana - the native cascara in the NW). We know they are here by their distinctive call and all the fluttering in the trees. After the choice berries are gone, so are they. This year, they are still here! They are very social birds and I never see just one. After their evening snack yesterday, here they are sunning themselves way up high in the Homesteading neighbor's tree. This photo is on maximum digital zoom and not the clearest, but you get the idea.

See this link to my photo of the berries.
See this link for a web photo of this beautiful bird. You can see how they could glow in the evening sunlight.
See the bottom photo of this post for a view of the micro cascara flowers loved by the bees.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

September 1st Garden

This spring, we used landscape stones from other places around the property to make "endcaps" for the garden beds. See this May 15th post for how it looked then. My raised beds don't have boards around them, but I found it very helpful to have the stone endcaps between the beds and the grass (there is no grass in between the beds). Above, are the east ends of the beds.
Here, above, are the west ends of the beds as the late afternoon shadows move in.
And this is from the northwest corner looking south (most of my garden photos are from the gate facing north, instead). Zucchini in the bottom of the photo, bean structure on the left. In the middle of the garden is the wall of tomatoes (mostly green, except for the Sungold). The sunflowers, dill, calandula and hyssop from my last post are on the other side of this wall of tomatoes. You can see the bright red/pink stalks of the Swiss Chard also. We are still making salads from this spring planting, but now I also have new chard seedlings growing for the fall.

Click on the label "Garden-Monthly Photos" for earlier views including snowy January.