Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Sunny Abundance

heartlandliberal sunflower

From commentor HeartlandLiberal:

How about this one, if you are in the mood for submissions for a garden pic for balloon-juice gardening diary.

It is one of several in a diary on our personal blog I posted this week.

All taken with my Pentax K5 and Pentax SMC DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED SDM zoom lens.

The tall sunflowers behind me in the first pic on the blog post were at that point almost 12 feet tall. The heads as they matured were over a foot wide, and are now so heavy they droop and nod and the stems cannot hold them upright any more.

Gardeners should definitely click over, for more pictures & advice. This is the photo I’m really envious about:

heartlandliberal tomatoes

My tomato garden continues to be… okay, mostly. Several of our favorite plants have died prematurely. We’re still getting more ripe fruit than we can really eat fresh, but not enough to go to the trouble of preserving, partially because this week nightime temps have dropped into the low 50s. Lovely for sleeping, but not for fruit set. It’s the annual lag where it seems like I’ve put in too much effort for not enough results, and vow that next February I’ll pre-order half as many plants, all of them proven producers for our microclime. (I know: #firstworldproblems !)

What’s going on in your gardens, this week?

42 replies
  1. 1
    Mary G says:

    Very beautiful garden!

  2. 2
    raven says:

    Great shots! I flew into Fargo years ago to go to Otter Tail Lake for a family reunion. There were fields of sunflowers all along the interstate. Stunning. The last three days of downpours will probably do the garden in but my bride spent all day last Sunday and every evening last week putting up figs.

  3. 3
    raven says:

    Are you on a well? We have a tiered water billing system and we would be killed by the cost of watering all night every night.

  4. 4
    Bob h says:

    Can I ask a question about poison ivy, which infests a big bed of Pachysandra of mine? Is there a poison ivy or weed specific herbicide that I can spray on the bed that will spare the Pacysandra? There is just too much poison ivy to pull out, andvI always end up in misery when I try.

    Ortho says I can use their poison ivy herbicide if I do not get it on the Pachysandra!

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    @raven: Last year I learned that lesson, when I went to bed and forgot to turn off the hose. This year not so much.

    The sunflower is gorgeous and such a welcome sight. We are suppose to have sunshine sometime next week. Wahoo!

  6. 6
    JPL says:

    @Bob h: Good luck with that. Most weed killers would treat the pachysandra the same.

  7. 7
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Looks a hell of a lot better than my garden, I can say that for sure!

    I finally surrendered my eggplants to the flea beetles and immediately felt my blood pressure drop several points. S’ok, managed to freeze about 10 pounds worth AND eat fresh eggplant 2 or 3 times a week for almost 2 months. I don’t have a clue of how many pounds of pole beans I have frozen, but 30-35 would not surprise me (love that Foodsaver! Blanch ’em, freeze ’em, sack ’em, suck the air out and seal ’em.) One whole shelf in the deep freeze is nothing but. Planted Purple Kings and Blue Lake (IIRC) this year and have never had a bean produce like the PKs. To think I have 2 more months to go….

    Went to Minnesota for a week and when we returned last Sunday I fully expected the tomatoes to have crashed and burned in my absence from the V-F fungus (had a neighbor culling the garden while we were gone). But when I got my first look at the garden in the Ozark twilight all I could see was countless red dots of joy. In the past week we have frozen app 20+ lbs, dried app 5 lbs of yellow pear (a little garlic salt and mmm, mmm) canned 8 qts of sauce and 6 pts of jalapeno and diced tomas, AS WELL as giving 30lbs to my Jeffco buddy, another 15 lbs to his father who was not able to put in a garden this year, and I am going to send 15-20 lbs back to St Louis with my son today. And they still aren’t done. Some of the plants have zero leaves left but the stems are still green and what fruit remains is still ripening.

    On the down side, my corn was a bust. I planted it in the newest section of the garden where the compost was the thinnest and never gave it the attention it needed. Also my squash ( 12 plants, 6 summer, 5 winter, one pumpkin) all have male flowers only.

    Question: Every year since we moved out to the woods, my sunflowers grow well, tall and strong. The heads flower beautifully, and within 2-3 days are lopped off just inches below by some spineless critter that comes in the night to haunt my dreams. Any idea what it is? I call it a #@**&#%@*!!!! but a more taxonomical tag might be helpful.

  8. 8
    Kathi says:

    I love the sunflowers! Tomatoes have slowed down some but are still going strong, peppers and eggplants are picking up. Harvesting Sugar Baby watermelons.

  9. 9
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @raven: We have had average to above average rain this year up until the past 10 days. The water scarecrows are not for watering, but are motion detector devices that sense movement, and scare the deer out of the garden. They have been effective for deer. Not so much for raccoons and squirrels, who ignored one I put by the apple tree, and stripped it bear of probably a couple hundred apples. For some reason they have ignored the dozen or so pears that set on the trees I planted only three years ago, so maybe we will get a few pears. My main pear producer did not do well, its cross pollination partner was killed by the frost two years ago. I have left an eight foot trunk standing, trimmed of all limbs, but it is trying to come back from the roots. I am letting to sets of trunk grow, to see if it can regenerate itself, which I suspect it can.

    Right now it has not rained for over 10 days, and the ground is drying out and cracking. Since water levels in our reservoir for the county are good, there are no restrictions, so I am watering the areas that still produce ever couple of days.

    Today I plan to till up the much of the upper third, and plant fall greens and lettuces and beets.

    Aside from LOTS of tomatoes which we have been stewing and freezing and giving away to neighbors and friends and our bridge club once a week, so far I harvested 35 lbs of lovely small white and red potatoes, and have two more rows almost ready to dig up. I have been eating the creamiest hashbrowns imaginable for breakfast for a couple of weeks. My wife has promised potato salad today.

    Monday I will be making a stir fry with two kinds of kale, much Swiss chard, and spinach, cooked up with fresh ground pork from a local Indiana farm that grows their animals without poisoning them with antibiotics. Some of the freshest, best beef you can find anywhere.

  10. 10
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @Bob h: For poison ivy, I just put on plastic gloves and a shirt that covers my arms and neck, rip and dig it up, and stuff it into a plastic bag to go into the garbage. Whatever you do, do NOT try to burn it. Inhaling the smoke accidentally can be devastating to the linings of the lungs.

  11. 11

    Nashville’s weather has been insane this summer. Incredibly wet and cool. Y’all won’t believe this but for the past three days we’ve had the air conditioning off and the windows open. In fucking MID-AUGUST this is unheard of. UNbelievable. The result in my garden is that everything is blooming like crazy because of the wet but I’ve also got mildew all over the place. Some stuff is just melting back into the soil. We need more sun.

  12. 12

    In non-garden news, Time Magazine’s Michael Grunwald drunk-Tweeted this and then quickly deleted it, just another phony impartial journalist SHOCKER.

  13. 13
    JPL says:

    @Southern Beale: It’s becoming doubtful, that my monthly electric bill will top $100.00. My latest bill just came and it was $97.00. There is some good news with a cooler than average temperatures.

  14. 14
    Schlemizel says:


    If that pear tree was a combo, where they graft one tree onto the root stock of another those sprouts will not be the same fruit as the tree you lost. I don’t know about pears but my understanding is all apple trees sold now are this way. I hope that is not the case but you should see if you can find out about yours.

  15. 15
    MikeJ says:

    Last season I found myself cheering for Tottenham because Gareth Bale was just such a joy to watch. Sadly, he’s out with an injury for the opener today, Combine that with spurs facing Crystal Palace, fresh up from the Champions League and you almost feel like you *have* to pull for the underdog here. Who knows if they can stay up more than a season, but for now they’re there.

  16. 16
    Dave Dell says:

    I let a few of my spring spinach go to seed and now, thanks to a cool weather spell, I have the earliest fall spinach sprouts I’ve ever seen. I wonder if they’ll breed true? I’ve no idea what the flavor will be. Going to take a lot of thinning.

  17. 17
    Karla says:

    Cool nights have been affecting me, too. I’ve had a cluster of Roma tomatoes that has been quite plump but over the whole week has shown no signs of ripening. Given the cold, it was probably doubly a good call to bring in the three monarch caterpillars I found on my milkweed (both cold and predators being, well, bad). I tagged and released the first butterfly yesterday at about 8am. He crawled around and sat on one of my zinnias (in the past a monarch butterfly magnet) for about an hour, but I never saw him drink. It was quite sunny and warm by about 10am, and at that point he was gone. Godspeed, little guy.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    David Gregory has a sad today. McCain is going to appear on CNN and little McCain will be on Face The Nation.
    Not all is lost though since he’ll have that great statesperson, Kelly Ayotte. She will regurgitate the McCain talking points about Egypt and Obama’s failure to do whatever it takes to stop the violence.

  19. 19
    MomSense says:

    Feeling quite covetous about those tomatoes as mine are not ripening.

  20. 20
    jibeaux says:

    My garden sucks. I went on vacation for a week, came back, and all I had was a rotten tomato, 2 figs, and okra as big as dildos. Terrible year.

  21. 21
    noodler says:

    just took an 8 mile run through frankfurt, germany. plenty of open parks and miles of trails. I love running in germany. something i don’t get to do so much of in yemen. outdoors at least. still evacuated, not sure when i am returning to post.

  22. 22
    MomSense says:


    I think I might give up too and just go smell the roses–oh wait the Japanese beetles destroyed them. FML.

  23. 23
    JPL says:

    @noodler: Enjoy your stay in Germany.

  24. 24
    Glidwrith says:

    I’ve been trying to reclaim some of my land – river rocks six inches deep, compacted blond sandy soil. Cleared a 10-foot by six inch strip (by hand, of course) resulting in three large bags of rocks and worked in some worm compost. Tried planting some carrots, lost about half of them and after about six months I’ve got carrots as long as my index finger and about as thick. Sigh.

    I want to save some tops from store-bought carrots and plant them, hoping to get them to seed. Any suggestions?

  25. 25
    Hunter says:

    Slightly OT — or maybe a sub-topic: I’ve been spending a lot of time in Lincoln Park (Chicago) lately. The gardens along the west side, from Fullerton south, are in full bloom and really look magnificent right now. Even more amazing are North Pond and South Pond, which bracket the Zoo — full growth, full bloom, and full of birds. (August is the best time to visit.) Both are restoration projects, where the Zoo and the Park District have been planting native shoreline and verge plants — cardinal flower, blue vervain, yellow and purple coneflowers, milkweed, butterfly weed, asters, and others I can’t identify offhand, as well as bulrushes, cattails, reeds, and a range of mid-size to tall grasses. South Pond, especially, is not only spectacular but really makes me think this is what the lakefront looked like B.C. (Before Chicago) . And watch for herons: we have a nesting colony of black-crowned night herons — endangered in Illinois — on the island in South Pond. And there’s a sizable flock of Canada geese at North Pond — they nest there in the spring — that graze on the lawns in the afternoon — and then plop down for a nap. Traffic stops for them when they cross Stockton Drive. You can usually spot a turtle or two sunning on a half-sunken log.

    And from the north end of each pond, you get a great view of downtown Chicago.

  26. 26
    noodler says:

    @JPL: Thanks! Lived and visited Germany several times over the years, great place. Working remotely from US Consulate here so my head’s still in the game.

  27. 27
    raven says:

    @HeartlandLiberal: Ah, I see, cool.

  28. 28
    rikyrah says:

    MSNBC’s Joy Reid to Rand Paul: ‘Take a Deep Breath Before You Talk About Race’
    by Matt Wilstein | 6:35 pm, August 17th, 2013

    Filling in for Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday, MSNBC’s Joy Reid delivered in open letter to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), admonishing the 2016 hopeful for his attempts to talk about race. “There are some people, who, for their own sake, should take a very deep breath before they talk about race,” Reid said.

    The impetus for Reid’s letter were comments made this week by “the right’s new poster child for awkward race talk” Paul about North Carolina’s new voter restrictions. Paul reportedly told a Louisville-based NPR affiliate, “I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”

    “I get that you’re trying to be the man in the GOP who steps out there on race,” Reid said, before laying out the “evidence” he said he could not find showing that “voter-ID laws preclude African Americans from voting.” She quoted statistics showing that “up to 25% of African-American adults don’t have a photo ID.” And in relation to North Carolina’s cutting down early voting by a full week, she noted that “70% of African Americans who voted in North Carolina last year voted early.”

    Moving on a case study from Florida, Reid reported a Dartmouth study, which “estimated that more than 200,000 people who wanted to vote didn’t” in the 2012 election because of long lines, with African-American voters waiting twice as ling as white voters.

  29. 29
    cathyx says:

    @Bob h: Pachysandra is pretty tough when it comes to herbicides. You could spray the poison ivy being careful to not overspray the area and work hard on just hitting the poison ivy. What little that gets on the pachysandra will probably not set it back too badly. I’ve done this and the pachysandra survives. It has a bit of a waxy coating similar to english ivy that will protect it somewhat.
    I would not pull it out by hand no matter how covered up I am because I get it just looking at it.

  30. 30
    SectionH says:

    Garden’s in a holding pattern while we get ready for the Worldcon. We’ve picked more ripe tomatoes – we’re still pretty squirrel-free – and Mr S has been making tomato sauce to freeze as well as some we’ve eaten. But orange is the new red. Or something. The best eating tomatoes we’ve had all season are orange (Mortgage Buster ? ), the best sweet peppers are orange, we’ve been getting gorgeous orange squash blossoms (pan fried a few of those with goat cheese stuffing). Mr S’s Habaneros are coming in. They’re orange too… I stay far away from those bad boys. I used to love super hot food, can’t take much heat at all any more.

    Oy, the last rain we had that got into the ground was in March. People farther north and more coastal had a bit a few weeks ago. What we got then didn’t even get the sidewalk completely wet.

  31. 31
    Dolly Llama says:

    Can one safely plant Japanese irises and daylilies all together in one big patch randomly? I brought one gazillion daylilies from Georgia to Raleigh this weekend, and I don’t have places for all I brought. I just split a huge Japanese iris into five smaller plants last weekend, but gaps in my iris patch remain. Fill them with daylilies or no?

  32. 32
    cathyx says:

    @Dolly Llama: They can ‘safely’ be planted together. Not sure what you mean by that, they won’t kill each other. The irises will need to be divided every couple of years, so you will be digging them up, but there’s no reason they can’t be together in the same bed.

  33. 33
    Kathi says:


    I used to have a water scarecrow – worked good for the deer but the rabbits and groundhogs laughed at it.

  34. 34
    Dolly Llama says:

    @cathyx: “Safely” in the sense that they won’t choke each other out. Otherwise, thanks! It will be good to have two really pretty bloom-outs a year in a single patch.

  35. 35
    jnfr says:

    I’m about ready for the tomatoes to stop producing so much. We have more than we really need. So today we’ll bake a big dish of them with garlic and herbs and have bruschetta for dinner.

    On the other hand, we can never get enough ancho peppers.

  36. 36
    WereBear says:

    @MomSense: How bird friendly is your area? Cultivating wild roses, providing bird baths, and letting our lawn “go natural” meant I never had a problem with them. Because as soon as the grubs appeared, our place was COVERED in birds, eating them.

    There’s also that spore thing, but you need to have your neighbors do it, too.

  37. 37
    tybee says:


    sounds like you’ve just toured my garden. not much to show for all my efforts….

  38. 38
  39. 39
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @noodler: Your story makes me nostalgic. We lived in southern German for a year back around 1971-72, and toured again in late 70’s. I still remember how beautiful it was to jog among vineyards on the Mosel one morning while we were touring and camping for a couple of weeks.

  40. 40
    MomSense says:


    My area is really bird friendly and I am something of a rebel–letting my lawn go natural. The problem is educating my neighbors not to put those darn traps out.

  41. 41
    Yatsuno says:

    @SectionH: Idea for the habañeros: get cheap vodka, drop the berries in whole, leave for a couple weeks. Will make the best bloody Marys you ever tasted. Habañeros are the FSM’s cruel joke: the tastiest chile is also one of the hottest.

  42. 42
    Klare says:

    @rikyrah: @rikyrah: if Rand Paul would just take a deep breath before he said anything, or maybe hold his breath, for the rest of his tenure. In typical GOP fashion he invents his facts as he goes along. It’s like Donald Trump saying ‘what birth certificate?’ It’s a game of pretend that they and their followers play. Too bad their games have such such deadly consequences. They know the facts, they shamelessly promote voter suppression. And unfortunately he represents the state in which I live.

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