Monday, August 31, 2009

Squirrelling Habits

The foggy morning yesterday helped confirm we are working our way into fall. After not seeing any squirrels during those hot/dry days we had, we've been hearing them everyday now. In the garden, things have changed from watching the new growth, to managing the harvest. Like the squirrel, we'll want to have some tasty treats come January.

Tomatoes: In the last week, the tomato harvests have become more than we can eat each day. Cherry tomatoes may not be the usual cooking sort, but we've been enjoying them in pasta dishes. So, I washed these and put them in the freezer. This morning, I moved the frozen tomatoes into airtight (vacuum sealed) bags. I love the colors. Maybe I can see a Christmas card design in the next round of the tomato harvest...!

Potatoes: Two of the potato plants had died back so we dug up our first potatoes. The other plants are still mostly green so I guess we should wait a while longer before harvesting those. We'll have some of this harvest for dinner tonight. My friend gave me the starts so I don't know what type these are.

Beans: The green beans have been the hardest for me to stay up on the harvesting. Actually, the happy grower this year has been the purple climbing beans. After my big pick last weekend, I had many more that were the right size for picking. Yesterday, I picked, blanched and froze several bags full. There should be a few more rounds to go, but there are few blossoms now so there will be a final harvest one day.

Carrots: I also harvested two nice size, tasty carrots last night. While I did thin, I could have done more. Some may be too close to grow to their full potential. I'll be looking at them closely today to see if there are some selective harvesting I can do to reduce some crowding.

Pumpkins: Some of the pumpkins are turning orange already! It is usually a rush to get them there by the end of Oct. The early orange ones are a different variety than I've grown before, and probably more of a jack-o-lantern variety. I also have others that are still yellow and green.

There are signs of powdery mildew in places. This time of year, our weather becomes just right for PM. In the past, I've tried to delay the progression of PM by spraying with a baking soda mixture or cutting leaves. I may let it take its natural course this year and see how it goes with the pumpkins.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Alternative Views

DH & I had a little (geocaching) hike on a recent evening. I gave up trying to photograph the evening sunlight filtering through the trees or the colors in the forest.

But, I liked this rather accidental shot. It was something else that caught my attention. Whatever it was, I'm glad it did.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bean Adventures

I couldn't put it off any longer. The beans further up the bean structure had to be picked. Can't say I put as much thought into it as I should have. Do you think the benefits of growing vegetables might decrease with each extra foot you have to climb to pick them?

It was a good idea to use a S-hook to hang the basket on the trellis and to free up both hands. Not such a good idea was deciding to take photos while I was up there. (But the camera was just there in the basket, as it usually is when I go to the garden.)

How about standing on the top of the wobbly, old 2-foot stepladder? It was easier to carry than the larger one! Oh, yes, in garden flipflops! This time with socks (sorry) since the feet were still complaining about picking blackberries in flipflops on Saturday.

And stretching for that last bean, several times? Maybe not a good idea. It's still there, below...

Fortunately, there are no injuries to report. And the dinner in process that includes the purple pepper, a pattypan squash, garlic, tomatoes & the beans might bump that quality decision making ability back up there!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blackberry Days

The blackberries are on full force now. I should try jam or something else, but I like to make blackberry sauce to serve with ice cream or angel food cake, etc. I've sometimes made blackberry cobblers, too. I did see a blackberry barbecue sauce recipe I'd like to try.

As shown in the photos from this 2007 post, I love using an old ricer/fruit press to separate the seeds from the fruit (after blending in my old blender). The seeds stick nicely to the wooden roller.

I'm not a huge blackberry fan. This year the flavor seems better than some years. The thorns are awful! But, I love fresh food and being able to do something with the fruit growing locally (in this case, in my yard). Takes the edge off of the work to keep the blackberries from taking over the whole property, too.

What do you do with blackberries?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What is it??

Now updated with the answer, below.
This striking plant is growing in our fence line. Can anyone explain it to me? At first, I thought it might be a rogue tomato, but now I'm wondering if it more like a pepper. It is near a neighbor's former garden. Do you think this is something native, or something escaped from the garden? You can see the leaf just above the wire on the right side of the photo.

See the upside down T? That is the stem of this plant. Any ideas ? !

UPDATE: Thanks to Greenmantle (all the way from the UK), I have an answer - Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara). It isn't as poisonous as some of the nightshade family, but still poisonous. It isn't on the local noxious weed list (just a weed of concern). See this link for the scoop from King County, Washington.

I think I'll leave it on my "to monitor" list, at least for another season. While many varieties are welcome in the fence row (a mini hedgerow), rampant, bully vines are not welcome! We will see...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SAGBUTT on Tiger Mountain

Yesterday, the Seattle area garden bloggers were invited to Molly's garden on Tiger Mountain to taste tomatoes. And, as it goes with SAGBUTT meetings, to talk and eat!

This is just a portion of the vegetable garden. You'll have to check out the Weed Wackin' Wenches post to see more of the pumpkins. Molly already has greens planted for fall under the white fleece. Note: The fleece is being held in place with Japanese clothes pins made to use with bamboo poles (& perfect for hoop cloches). Molly has an extra cool garden and has several strategies for helping keep the plants a little protected.

In person, we met the parent to the black pussy willow cuttings Molly brought to our first SAGBUTT meeting! It's the left half of the photo, above. I think there is a lilac neighbor on the right.

Some of the tasty & colorful tomatoes being sampled. There were many varieties, but even just these three were quite different from one another. The Italian Ice was an intriguing sight. It had a mild flavor, and a sturdy wall structure that reminded several of us of peppers.

Just a little view of the fine Northwest landscape for those of you in other parts of the world.

Thanks, Molly, for hosting the group and the fine tour, food and beverage! You have created such a nice spot there! It was so much fun hearing about your gardening & other adventures. I could have stayed on this porch for a week (although the wild life stories might have changed that - see also the Weed Wackin' photo essay).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bloom Day August

It's the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day gathering over at May Dreams Gardens. I'm bringing some flowers (& a few friends) I haven't posted yet this summer. Above, fragrant nicotiana with calandula and blue borage in the background. Nicotiana came home with me from the July SAGBUTT gathering!

Above, this fee found the blooming basil in the greenhouse. The door is always open right now, but he had the place to himself. I've been deadheading the basil like crazy until the August heat hit and I let it go. The aroma in the greenhouse is fantastic after pinching back the basil.

Above, I've never seen bees with pollen baskets as full as they are once the broccoli starts blooming. See that yellow bump on the bee's leg? That's the pollen basket. I leave a few broccoli plants in the garden to bloom because the bees seem to like it so much.

This is blooming oregano, above. It is covered with this type of bee/critter. Do you know what it is?

I have my first feverfew plant this year. It is a very happy plant. I just read, though, that bees hate the smell of it! And they will stay away from other plants near it. I'll have to go check the surrounds plants to see how far that ban goes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bee Sleepy (but not on SAGBUTT Saturday)

When the cat sleeps like this, we call it hanging 10 (or 20 if she found a really good spot). You can bet this photo will be showing up whenever I'm feeling tuckered!

I have very odd bee behavior in my garden this year, but no leads on interesting tomatoes for the SAGBUTT Tomato Show going on Saturday at Molly's. My tiny almost ripe tomato split in the rain this week. Tomatoes or not, I'll be there!

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's this?

Rain! Yes, I went out and made sure it was raining in every part of the garden. No pictures. The outside seems to be holding its breath so as to not scare away the rain. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Warning! Petunia at Work

Really... you've been warned! These photos are really bad quality and they might even be a little scary. But if you make it through the first two, the third will leave you with a more pleasant sight.

DH called me out to the garden (I was in the barn hanging a curtain, but more about that later). We saw a sight we've never seen before. Petunia (the snake) at work! She had captured a large slug and was pulling it through the herb bed. Well, I did always assume they were eating slugs.

I didn't want to scare her from her task, so I tried to zoom in without getting too close or taking time to see if it was focused.

In the middle of the photo you will see the spotted slug and the striped Petunia. The slug is bigger around than Petunia. She has it in her mouth about in the middle of the slug.

Below, even a worse photo, but looks for the spotted slug and the striped Petunia.

Later, I checked this bed again and heard dry leaves rustling. Two smaller Petunias where scouting around. I take it that the big slug hunter wouldn't share and sent them off to find their own slugs. Who am I to complain.

Ahhh.... I just cannot get enough of the echinacea color this year (& the drunk bees).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

August Garden Photos

A nice cool, gray day for a little garden clean up. I actually hoped these plans would bring on the rain, but no luck. I removed the peas after last week's heat ended any remaining harvest. Also removed many huge borage plants that were just too darn big &/or finished blooming. The other side of the blue trellis (photo left) has a cucumber plant that reached the top. The one on this side isn't there yet. Click on this link: Garden-Monthly Photos , to see other months.

Above, the pumpkin patch. A young visitor made this sign for me 4 years ago. I've hung it up by the entry to the pumpkin patch to keep the pumpkins inspired. There are some large pumpkins underway, but only one or two on each plant so far.

The greenhouse has only had basil, peppers and a tomato during the summer. The heat last week about did in the tomato and sent the basil into flowers. I don't know if it is this warm summer or the extra heat in the greenhouse, but the basil has been going strong all summer.

And I just discovered this lilac sweet pepper in the greenhouse! I had seen some small green peppers already, but hadn't seen this one yet.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Garden Dish

A few years ago I found this plate at my favorite charity shop. I put it in the garden to water birds or critters who happened to find it (maybe even Petunia). I could tell how much rain was still in the garden by the water in the plate.

In the heat of this summer, though, it frequently dried out. Now I've scooted it under one of the soaker hoses. Based on how it fills up and dries out, it give me perspective on the water situation. I don't know if birds find it, but assorted insects think it is just right.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Pretty Patty

Pattypan squash are the perfect size for dinner... and so darn cute!
There are lots of blossoms, so hopefully more patties are not far behind.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bee Careful!

The bees were in a frenzy yesterday, especially around the echinacea. There were often 2, 3 or even 4 bees on a flower at a time.

You might not be able to tell, but there are two bumble bees and a honeybee (I think) in that squash blossom.

Later in the evening, I noticed many bees crashing out for the night on the flowers. Maybe the hot weather has made the echinacea especially intoxicating to them.

Notice the poor little guy with his feet up in the air! He was still moving an antenna, so I turned him over. Still, it may have been his last night. He looked like he'd had many a trip through the garden, so maybe this going out in high bee style.

I did look to see if the spider in this link might have been the cause. Unless the spider was off stalking others while this guy faded, I didn't find evidence of the spider at work.