Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today's harvest

Small but very tasty harvest today.  Needless to say, what you see pictured is not the total harvest.  Half the fun was eating sun warmed raspberries and sweet pea pods directly from the garden.  One of the many benefits of no pesticides.  :)
 After the in garden eating, there were 9 oz. of raspberries that will be part of tomorrows breakfast.
Only 2 1/2 oz. of pea pods made it to the picture.  Lauren wanted to fire up the grill and cook them.  She loves to eat them grilled.  I always tend to eat them before they can be cooked.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Veggie and flower progress

The veggie garden as of this past Sunday (Father's Day).  My husband strawed many of the beds for me.  :)

Baby tomatoes...Roma on the left and Viva Italia on the right.  It won't be long now...

Two of my raised beds of tomatoes on the left.  They seem to finally be growing.  This has been such an odd year for weather.  I have noticed that throughout the country, other garden bloggers are reporting the same conditions.  My okra is on the right.  They are bigger than they look in their bed of straw.  They really like the heat, and there just hasn't been a lot of that over a consistent period.  Today is overcast and in the 60's with highs in only the 60's and 70's for the rest of the week and lows in the 50's.  Great weather in my book, but not good for warm weather loving plants.
I am so proud of my yellow crookneck squash on the upper left.  This is seed from my aunt in Alabama again that I have had for a few years and wasn't sure if it would grow.  I am thrilled to see it sprout!  She says that it is the best yellow squash in her opinion.  I am so glad to have a start of another family heirloom.
Ah, the upper right picture.  This has to be the most pathetic stand of beets that I have ever seen.  The rabbits have been feasting on the leaves that are closest to the fence (the back of the picture).  I hope to harvest these soon and get a second crop in.
Lower left...my volunteer dill.  I love the feathery foliage.
Lower right...onions and a bit of my broccoli and peas.  The blue tubes were over the broccoli while they were still small to keep the rabbits from devouring them.

My broccoli and peas.  The peas are growing along with my carrots.

The wild black raspberry bush that I have been feasting on recently.
Also checked in on the red raspberries.  There are a few that are getting some size to them.  I was so happy to find that there was a red one.  Needless to say, I ate it right then and there.  Yum!
In keeping with my "old seed" theme this year, my hyacinth beans have sprouted.  My neighbor would be proud.  :)
I have torn out this wren nest so many times from the bluebird house.  One persistent Momma Wren.  Makes me always think of the book....

Peaches!  Growing nicely....

Hostas that I have growing around the trees on the north side of our yard in the front.  I have a flower bed in the backyard that is very shady.  I am thinking of converting it to a hosta bed.  I don't know why I haven't thought of that before.  That will have to be a next spring job.
On the left is a Glowing Embers hydrangea that has never seemed to look like a glowing ember to me.  It was supposed to be reddish in color.  I have always had pastel pink.  I don't think that this hydrangea is supposed to be influenced by the pH of the soil, but maybe??  My Oakleaf hydrangea is on the right.  It is looking very full this year.
My daylilies will be blooming soon.  Lots of buds.  They will likely need thinned out next year.  I really should think about having a plant sale.
On the right is one of my oriental lillies.  So beautiful!
Chameleon plant is on the left.  It can make a ground cover, but I never allow it that much room.  I really like when the leaves get tints of red to them.
My rouge Sweet Autumn Clematis is threatening to take over my suet feeder.  It hasn't hindered the birds from eating suet.
This is kind of a low key time for the flower gardens.  After such a burst of color in spring, everything just seems green now.  I plan to start more annuals from seed for some additional color next year.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Raspberry update

Nine more ounces of black raspberries picked today.  It sure felt like more.  That is a total of 1 lb. 5 oz.  Not bad for a plant that was started from a bird deposit! 

After checking how the black raspberries are doing, I went to check on the red raspberries.  I was unhappy to find this visitor.
  Japanese beetles....they love my raspberry leaves.  This one was the only one that I saw, but I found evidence of their damage.  I have said for a couple years that I need to get some milky spore to help control them, and haven't done so.  Looks like hand based control again this year.
I never realized until just now that those nasty grubs that you find when digging in the dirt become the Japanese beetles.  One more reason to dislike grubs.

Wild onion

Next to our Ash tree is this volunteer wild onion (Allium vineale).  I thought that was what it was anyway and did some online checking to make sure.  I found picutres that looked the same as what I have here.  In doing so, I found that it is also called crow garlic or wild garlic and has become invasive and is not native to North America.  It also is resistant to herbicides.  I have never yanked it because I think that it is unique looking and has never seemed to become a problem where it is.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

First black raspberries of the year!

I picked the first black raspberries of the year tonight.  3/4 pound total.  Guess what is going in my yogurt in the morning?  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reclaiming the garden

We had a beautiful weekend, and I was able to get a lot of work done in the vegetable garden.  A busy work season, combined with busy kid's activities, and the horrible biting gnats had made it a challenge to get outdoors.  Weeds were the prevailing crop, but I was determined to regain control.  With the help of my dear husband, we got the garden back to where we could feel proud of our accomplishment....as well as tell that veggies were being grown there!  There were a few things that I had not gotten in the ground yet, so I was able to get that done.  I planted eight okra plants, one hill of crookneck yellow squash from my aunt in Alabama (I love heirlooms....especially ones from my own family!) and a hill of zucchini.  I still need to plant cucumbers, beans, and black eyed peas.  It is getting late, but better late than never!

On the left is some of my volunteer dill that I have let grow. Dill is one of those plants that if you don't keep ahead of it, it becomes invasive. I don't think I have ever seen it labeled as such, but my garden in spring is proof of the fact. On the right is my sage. I severely cut it back in the spring since it was becoming very woody, and it came back very nicely.
Another view of the veggie garden. I planted seeds for more Bachelor Buttons, Zinnas, Sweet William, Stock and Wildflower mix along the right side of the fence. A couple of my poppies have come back this year which made me happy. I thought that they had died out. I would like to also get some Larkspur growing there again. I love flowers mixed in the garden. 
My stand of Roma tomatoes.  Far from the regular garden.  Hoping to have our strawberry patch in here next year.
A Roma tomato in the making....

Some funky fungi that I found while weeding.  A lot of different shelf type fungi seem to grow on the wood of the raised beds, but this was something I had not seen before.  While I was weeding, I encountered lots of different spiders, centipede looking creatures that were quick to get back underground when disturbed, and found that lightning bugs seemed to like my beet bed.  The rabbits must like beets too.  Many of my plants had the green tops munched off. 
Some sort of weed.  The flower was pretty though.  I have never seen it before.
Red raspberries.  There do not seem to be nearly the bees around them this year.  I have seen more wasps than anything.  I don't think I have seen a single honeybee.
I have no idea what this is.  Some sort of dried fungus from last year?  Nest from some sort of insect?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Friendship bean

Many of the plants that I have are remembered by who gave them to me.  These plants bring back floods of memories.  The "Darnaby lily" which is a yellow lily from our very first house as a married couple that we have brought with us with each move.  The white iris with purple edging that came from that house also.  The purple and yellow iris from "Grandma and Grandpa Ken", our neighbors when we lived in that first house.  They also gave us a sedum and I have since planted grape hyacinths that remind me of them.  Chameleon plant from our neighbor in our second house.  Chives from a friend that I used to work with.  Hosta from my previous walking buddy that started our current book club.  My Annabelle hydrangea that was a Mother's day present from my girls 11 years ago.  Pale yellow iris from a former boss.  The list goes on and on....

The reason for all of this nostalgia is that I have found seeds for Hyacinth Bean in my potting shed that are from my next door neighbor that just recently, and quite unexpectedly passed away.  She was a farmer's wife with a love for flowers that would share freely.  I have received coral bells from her as well as what was supposed to be a short sunflowery plant that grows over four feet tall in my beds and has become annoyingly invasive.  :)  It must like it's surroundings.

Anyway, I think that I will plant them along our chain link fence on her side in her memory.  Perhaps her husband will enjoy them also.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Buffalo gnats

At the time when the weeds are growing like....well....weeds, the buffalo gnats arrive to keep gardeners away from the garden.  Almost like a conspiracy. 

Spring in Illinois brings swarms of biting gnats called buffalo gnats, named for their humpbacked appearance.  I prefer not to let them sit long enough to check out their shape.  The eggs of the buffalo gnat are laid in running water, and our proximity to a large lake and two rivers probably only helps to increase their numbers here.  We have had a breezy spring which seems to help keep them away somewhat, but just being outdoors becomes a challenge.  I was kayaking over the weekend with the wind against me for the first leg of my float and had no gnats.  What an enjoyable experience!  The paddle back was another story all together.  It was very hot and the gnats started sticking to me and getting behind my sunglasses.  I couldn't wait to get off the water!  From what I have read, they tend to like the cooler temps and their numbers drop when the temps hit 75-80.  With temps in the 90's this week, I am hoping we are close to the end of their life cycle.

Many people have allergic reactions to the bites (only the females bite) which from what I hear are painful and become very swollen.  Thankfully, I am not allergic to the bites, but my husband is, and it is amazing what swelling one little gnat can cause.

There are many home remedies that people recommend to deter the gnats.  The most common and recommended is vanilla sprays.  Some people swear by real vanilla mixed with water, vanilla body sprays, or Buggins brand spray.  My daughter's vanilla body spray seems to work pretty well for us for now.

Anyone else have buffalo gnats in your area?  What do you use to combat them?

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Today was supposed to be a cooler day, and I was hoping to get some weeding done.  Amazing how weeds profilerate at such a rate....gone yesterday here today...in multi generations!  God had other plans.  We have a severe thunderstorm watch until noon and are getting nice showers with thunderstorms.  No weeding right now.  The plants did need some water and rain is so much better than a sprinkler.

My tomato plants and peppers seem to have been stunted.  Not much growth.  My broccoli seems to be doing well as with the carrots, beets, and peas.  Too much cooler weather overall. 

This has been such a weird year in terms of weather.  I have said that for several years now.  I don't buy into global warming, but think that weather changes happen and have done so throughout history.  Don't get me wrong, I do think that what we are doing to the environment has to cause some sort of change, but I don't blame everything on it.  No hate mail please!  :)

This has not only been a crazy year for weather, but for just trying to get gardening in at all!  I always thought that when the girls got older that there would be so much more time for other activities....wrong.  It seems that just the opposite has happened.  I still have beans, blackeyed peas, squash and okra to get in the ground.  Perhaps not getting the warm weather crops in yet hasn't been such a bad thing since the weather is wacky anyway.....

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Okra update and first harvest

I wish I had gotten the time to take a picture of the okra seeds after their soaking.  We had to get them planted in a hurry prior to leaving on an out of town trip, so I skipped a step.  They started rooting right away in the water/bleach solution.  Who would have thought?  I was hoping for at least one plant so that I could at least keep the seed going since I really didn't think that they would sprout being old seed. 
I thought that I had read somewhere that okra does not transplant well so I had some peat pots in my potting shed and thought that I would try those since I couldn't get them directly into the garden.
 Close ups of okra seedlings.

I had my first harvest from my garden the other day.  Radishes and beet greens.  I radishes and beet greens in my salad last night and they were so good.  My husband thought the beet greens tasted too much like beets themselves (he is not a lover of beets).  I have a lot more thinning to do.  I will have to be looking for other ways to use them also.  I am wondering if they can be cooked like spinach.  I can't see why not. 
I found such an easy way to clean the greens.  I put them in my salad spinner, ran water over them, and them spun them.  No crunchy bits of dirt.  :)