Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

I cannot post these pictures without expressing my absolute joy, excitement & anticipation of good tasting things to come.

I honestly do not check in on my tomatoes in the greenhouse on a daily basis - other things need to be taken care of in the yard & then work gets in the way. But I am consistent in watering every 2 or 3 days.

Yesterday I wandered in to check on the recovery of the basil after harvesting them heavily a short while ago & to check on some new azalea cuttings & my rosemary seedlings. The first thing I saw was a hit of red dangling off the monster tomato plants!

Finally they are starting to turn colour!! This particular one was the first fruit set back in June - it has been my 'white whale' in this whole challenge of being able to eat a homegrown tomato.

As you can see, it no longer fits into the palm of my hand! These are a paste variety - not a roma, but something else. The seed package didn't actually give me the name, but I'm sure I'll find it somewhere.

Now the only other surprise waiting for me in the greenhouse was a case of mold. I don't think it's blight - at least I hope not!! But the tomatoes were planted a little too close to the side of the greenhouse & for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to also plant borage along that back side of the bed - maybe in the hopes of luring in the pollinators to aid in pollinating the tomatoes.

Whatever the case, I've been monitoring all this abundant, lush, out-of-control growth for a few weeks now as I can see moisture along the sides of the greenhouse & I'm aware of the persnickety ways of tomatoes. The tomatoes were leaning against the borage & the side of the greenhouse & the excess moisture had caused a few leaves (clusters of small 'maters) to become wet & start to mold.

I cut back everything that looked wet & horrible & then cut back some more. I've also had to tie up a bunch of stalks as the cages I'm using are about 2 feet too small & with the size & weight of those monster fruit, the whole plant was being pulled down!

Next year, don't plant individual plants too close together or too close to the side of the greenhouse, use larger cages & stake the cages (a new thing I picked up on just last week while perusing someone else's garden blog) so that the plants don't pull the cages down.

Amazing!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

If It Ain't One Thing, It's Another...

Well, the deer are back at their shenanigans... 

They arrived in the yard (for the 2nd time in the day) at 7:30 pm. The adorable buck & doe from last year's astonishing birth of twins. 

Here is the buck, ambling over to the raspberry patch, seemingly without a care in the world...

And here is the doe, without a clue as to all the hooting & hollering coming at them from the deck.

And here is my husband, after thundering down the deck stairs since the noise didn't get them moving, with a handful of rocks to convince them that our yard really isn't a fun place to hang out in.

Here's what's left of what were going to be a lovely showing of crocosmia blooms - the first good bloom since planting the bulbs a few years ago...

I rather like these clumping perennials - they have long, sword-like leaves that wave in the breeze & the flowers look almost like birds of paradise in their shape. This particular variety (haven't figured out which one it is yet), have upright blooms that start at the base of the cluster & slowly open down towards the tip.

A mature clump will produce blooms for quite a few weeks in August & make a nice addition to any floral arrangement for the house. I had no idea that the deer would eat them - especially after wandering through my neighbour's yard & noticing that the deer were pretty much ignoring EVERYTHING growing in his yard. Including the ripe blueberries. 

I feel that the deer are picking on me & the stinky-smelly deterents I've tried, just aren't working very well.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Things to do in the August garden

August:
'When one tugs at a single thread in nature,
One finds it attached to the rest of the world.'
- John Muir (1838-1914), American naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club

  • Tomatoes picked within five days after full coloring will be at their peak of flavor and nutrition. {I've heard not to store ripe tomatoes in the fridge & actually don't do that myself. I have a beautiful bowl on the counter that holds most of my fruits & tomatoes & they actually live there quite nicely for a week or so - no fruit flies & very little spoilage}  Cucumbers, snap beans and summer squash will continue producing fresh young edibles if the plants are picked often.
  • Early in the month TIP-PRUNE tomatoes, winter squash and pumpkins so that the fruits already formed on the plants will size up and mature fully. Make the cuts immediately above the first leaf stem growing beyond the last formed fruit or fruit cluster.
  • SEED lettuce, spinach, radishes and corn salad early in the month for fall salads. Around mid-August sow the seeds of spring cabbage and overwintering onions. {I just finished harvesting my beets - poor crop this year as they bolted - and will see if I have more seed to replant as I love pickled beets. Hopefully the autumn weather was better than the spring weather}
  • Continue to keep the garden clear of weeds, before they can form and shed seeds. {If you've been using the pulled up weeds as a mulch in the beds, than the weeds shouldn't be as bad right now - continue to use the pulled up weeds as mulch (only those without ripe seed heads) & fall clean-up will be a breeze}
  • Take ROOT CUTTINGS of geranium, coleus, impatiens and fibrous begonias for strong young plants to winter in the house at a bright window. {hmmm - root cuttings... I wonder if this means taking cuttings & getting them to root up in time for the winter weather. I tried this with geraniums last year, but a bit later on towards the end of September & didn't have too much success. We'll see....}
  • When cane fruits such as blackberries, tayberries and loganberries finish fruiting, CUT OLD CANES to the ground. Cut summer-bearing raspberry canes that have borne fruit down to just below soil level.
  • Brush the soil away from the tops of the ONION BULBS to assist them in maturing.
  • Prune LAVENDER bushes by cutting off this year's flowerstalks. If you don't they'll become leggy and unattractive. Also, be sure you don't over-water lavender. That's a sure-fire way to kill the plant. They need good drainage especially in our soggy climate. {I have lavender mostly in one bed that NEVER gets watered during the summer & the plants do very well. There is a rosemary, some thyme, sage, lovage, sedum, Oriental lilies & other spring flowers in the bed & they all do quite nicely. I've been busy spreading Spanish lavender around to all the other flower beds & currently am watering more frequently than I want, mainly because these beds are all new & the plants (shrubs, perennials, herbs) need to become firmly established. I hope the lavender survives...}
  • To help toughen trees, shrubs and perennials for winter, STOP FERTILIZING this month.
  • Allow selected flowers and vegetables to GO TO SEED if you wish to save some of your own seeds. Or, leave the seeds to feed the birds in the fall.
  • Gather herbs for freezing and drying. {I have about 15 different types of herbs growing around the property & they are all doing really well this year! I've started the harvesting already & hope to have it completed by mid-month so that the perennials have a chance to recover for the winter}
  • Towards the end of the month clean up HOUSE PLANTS that have spent the summer outdoors. Wash them well, spray thoroughly with insecticidal soap, and place in some sheltered area for seven to 10 days. Then repeat the cleaning and spraying before bringing them back indoors in September, before night temperatures dip much below what they will be in the house.
  • Late in August carefully LIFT SELECTED PLANTS FOR OVER-WINTERING (wax begonia, coleus and impatiens) to pot and have as winter house plants. Cut the plants back to stimulate fresh young growth, and follow the same cleaning process as for house plants before placing them indoors.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oh the Creepy-Crawlies!

I think this winter I will invest in a bug id book, which should help me figure out who & what's out there before I have another close encounter like I did yesterday.
This is a cabbage looper & I found it on the underside of the kale leaf I was about to cram into my mouth - now wouldn't that have been an extra-tastey treat!!

This is the information I found through a quick internet search:
{Insects that Will Attack Your Garden}
CABBAGE LOOPERS
These pests are extremely common and feed on many plants. They are particularly fond of cabbage,collards,cauliflower,and broccoli. The cabbage looper is smooth and green with white stripes. The caterpillars move in a looping fashion. The adult moth is a mottled brown with silver or white figure eights on the wings.The loopers are found ingesting older leaves from the underside. You must either shake the plant or turn the leaves over to dislodge these pests. They are easily controlled by hand picking and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water however some people have used kerosene. If a spray is utilized make sure to cover both the upper and lower leaves. A word of caution here loopers are difficult to control with the sprays available to the gardener. It is best to hand pick these pests.If you do have a large infestation of the looper then it is best to consult a professional.

ps - I'm trying on some new designs to the blog, so it might change a few times over the next while. Hopefully I can find one that is easy to use & easier to read!