Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Summer Harvest

What would we do for entertainment / information on a Sunday morning, if not for the ever-reliable Ozark Hillbilly?

Nothing much, just a few summer harvest pics.

At top: Early Harvest: This was probably our first good morning’s pickings. L to R, French Gold and French Emerite beans from Renee’s Garden, Bumblebee and Yellow Pear from Baker Creek and cherry from the local MFA, A Wood’s Famous Brimmer and an Amana Orange tomatoes from Baker Creek, and some Dar and Miniature White Cucumbers also from Baker Creek.

The beans are always good producers, the FG especially so, and mighty tasty too. I have put up app 35 pints, plus we have some frozen and have given away maybe a dozen gallon bags stuffed full. All from 1 of each seed packets. The miniature Whites were by far the most productive of the 2 cukes and both were very sweet tasting even if they got excessively large.

Tomatoes of many colors: L to R in the basket, Bumblebee, cherry, Green Zebra, Amish Paste peaking through, Amana Orange. In front: Woods Famous Brimmer and Pink Brandywine. All from Baker Creek except for the Cherry.

The Bumblebee are some of my most reliable producers, more savory than sweet, very crack resistant and wilt tolerant. I will still be picking a few of them long after all the others are gone. For the 2nd year in a row my Green Zebras had problems with blossom end rot and the plants succumbed to the wilt early on.

The Amish Paste are always good producers with plenty of large, meaty, paste tomatoes perfect for salsa and sauce. Amana Oranges… sigh… BC is no longer carrying them and this might be the last year I grow the most beautiful tomato on the planet. I am going to try and save some seeds but cross pollination is unavoidable. The Woods Brimmers, What can I say? Wow. Talk about productive, 3 plants, maybe a hundred maters so far and they are no where near done yet. These are medium to large beefsteak types with lots of good meaty flavor.

Eggplants: L to R: Diamond, Rosita, Mitoyo, and Rosa Bianca. I’ve been doing battle with the flea beetles and barely keeping up. the plants are stressed and I would say is the reason for lack of productiveness among my eggplants. With this harvest I made a killer Eggplant Parmesan that I am still feasting on a week later. I have more of each coming and with the next bunch I think I’ll just fry them like Mama did.

Sliced: This is a Mushroom Basket tomato from Baker Creek. Very beautiful and the flavor was good but the plant did not fare well at all, wilt and blossom end rot.

I fell behind with the wilt this year and was never able to catch up. Surprisingly, I have not picked a single horn worm and have had no HW damage. I don’t think that has ever happened to me before.

Day Glow Lily, just because it’s a nice pic.

I think we got the very last daylily bloom of the season yesterday — if I remember my planting chart correctly, an Apricot Sparkles. (You can’t tell from the photos, but the flowers actually do ‘sparkle’ in sunlight, as though they’ve been dusted with the finest glitter.)

We’re getting a steady trickle of ripe tomatoes here, augmented now by occasional purchases from our favorite local farmstand. Most important for my future plans, with only 20 plants instead of 30+, I’ve been making progress on tearing up and redoing the various long-neglected raised planters and flower beds… Murphy the Trickster God willing, there will be something to look forward to next spring besides the endless cleanup! Already put in a bulb order for this fall, mostly for the little early ‘naturalizers’ — crocus, chionodoxa, muscari — to see how they do, tucked in among the existing daffodils and ‘naturalized’ in the semi-shaded side yard.

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?

Sunflower Update

Apparently I have somehow managed to grow the world’s largest sunflowers, as they are all about 12′ tall and some are closer to 15-16′.

I’m gonna need to borrow a wood chipper to compost the damned things:

That’s the stem at about 4′, not even the base which is bigger. Here are the midgets at only 12′:


Sunday Morning Garden Chat: A Place for Everything…

From commentor La Passionara:

[At top] is a nice little bug hotel that I saw several years ago in the Missouri Botanical Garden. I have been meaning to start collecting the seed pods, etc, to make one.

And then I saw the Bee Hotel in the Jardin Des Plantes, in Paris.

This is quite an edifice, which I knew to be outside my skill set, but I was thinking maybe one of the handier jackals might be interested in making one, or a smaller version of one.

This was supposed to be a collection of sunflowers, and I suppose they are, but just not the kind I had envisioned. I do like the color, so I am not complaining.

Next, I noticed this had popped up in a bed behind my house. I have never seen this happen before, in the five years I have lived here.

So I waited a few days, and it now looks like I have a spider lily. That’s a surprise, but I am thinking I should have more of these, as I really like them.

Hope everyone and their gardens are surviving the summer!


What’s going on in your garden(s) this week?

I’ve Hit a Wall

That’s the basket of goodies I dropped off at Tammy’s today (she said I have to post it because she took such a nice picture- BTW MY CHERRY TOMATOES ARE SO PERFECT THEY LOOK FAKE). The cukes came from the farmers market, the peaches from the orchard, and the eggs from my friend down the road, but the rest came from the back yard (the bag is mint). At any rate, one of the problems with preserving everything you grow and then canning stuff from the orchard is it is a lot of work. In return I got sourdough starter, frozen watermelon, a bunch of pickles she made, some chicken stock I need to preserve, and something else I am forgetting. Division of labor, yo.

Basically every other night for the last two weeks I have been cleaning, cutting up, and freezing a gallon bag of tomatoes, and right now my freezer has 14 jam packed bags of tomatoes in them. On Monday, I am picking Tammy up, and on Tuesday and Wednesday we are going to make sauce, salsa, tomato paste, and we are going to take some of my unsliced tomatoes and use the dehydrator and make sun dried tomatoes and then freeze some and preserve the others in olive oil. I’m going to use the skins that we cook off the sauce tomatoes and dehydrate them and then use a mortar and pestle and turn it into a powder to put on top of dishes as a seasoning.

Tomorrow I have to put up another bushel of peaches, and on Saturday the kraut will be done and I have to can all eight gallons of that. I’m also going to finally use the chicken carcasses in the other freezer in the basement and make stock this weekend. I have to trellis the cucumbers I put in two weeks ago, harvest the green beans and can them, pull up the first run of tomato plants and put in the second run of pole beans, and put in another run of beans where the first run is. Also have to thin the beets I put in two weeks ago, and pickle the okra.

It’s been a fun experiment this summer, but it is a lot of work. And even while it is a lot of work- I am thinking about how to do it better and get more out of it. I think I am putting in two peach trees and two pear trees on the side of the house and another apple tree inside the yard, and next summer I think there is room for another raised bed. On the left side of my deck there is an unused 25′ long by 5′ wide space that is nothign but mulch, and next year I am just going to run trellises along the fence and do the beans there and squash on the ground. I want to experiment on a better schedule on when to put things in and may try three sisters and square-foot gardening. I also, swear to goodness, am going to start writing things down so this isn’t just all in my head and I have to remember what I was thinking two months after I started, so I don’t plant something and two weeks later swear and remember it was supposed to go somewhere else. Also, I need to look into drip irrigation, at the very least for the tomatoes to try to nip this leaf blight in the bud.

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Lovely Lilies

From commentor & garden devotee Japa21:

It’s been a strange year, garden wise for me and Mrs. Japa. The winter destroyed some of our boxwoods and our Rose of Sharon also had difficulty with the extremes. In addition, we have decided it is time to move on from our home of 35 years or more (I really can’t remember) so we haven’t been as emotionally invested in gardening this year as in years past. In past years I have shared with my fellow jackals our “purple” garden, our roses and our container gardens. The rose and purple gardens are doing the same as they have always done. We cut back greatly on the number of containers this year.

One thing that we have enjoyed are some of our lilies. I’ve included pictures of some of them. At the top is a joint favorite, our star lily. It is always the last to bloom, probably due to its location. As you can tell there are several buds that haven’t even started to open. Because of where it is planted you have to actually walk to it to get a good look. It isn’t that hard but it makes you step away from the busyness of the day and it is well worth it.

The Asiatic lilies are favorites of mine. They are colorful and stand out despite their small size.

My wife has always like calla lilies so this year, in one of our few pots, we did a calla lily, pairing it up with a nice grassy plant. Showing you both the lily alone and then the lily in the pot as a complete planting.

This is of one of the few remaining standard day lilies. The rest have pretty much lost all their blooms.

Finally, as I sometimes do, I am also sending a hummingbird picture. This was actually taken last year when we were visiting Mrs. Japa’s brother and SIL in Wyoming. They get 40-50 hummingbirds at a time. Of course, they are all varieties we don’t get in Illinois. Somehow or other, I was actually able to get a good shot as this one was going in for its feeding.

Spousal Unit & I spent some time yesterday at the Massachusetts Iris Society sale, coming home with some four dozen carefully-labelled little fan divisions. So we’ll be spending our afternoon getting those planted out, mostly into temporary rootpouches until we can dig out & dig up the bed currently overrun by badly crowded feral versions of their generic Monet-painting-style cousins.

When we first moved to Massachusetts some 30 years ago, we rented half of a duplex, with an overcrowded clump of no-longer-blooming iris leaves spiking out of a patch of dirt by the driveway; I dug it up, divided & replanted most of them, and put the excess rhizomes in a couple of plastic trough planters that came with us when we bought our house. Those ‘freebies’ have since multiplied vastly — they’d take over the entire yard if left unchecked.

So at least we know our soil is suitable for the species, and the Spousal Unit has a probably exaggerated idea of our talent for nurturing them. It’s a little terrifying how much interest he’s taking right now; on the one hand, I can really use his help with the heavy work, but on the other, when he gets seized by a new interest he displays the true ADD ‘goes to eleven’ overenthusiasm, which I find rather exhausting…

I need more garden pics, incidentally, if you’ve been thinking about sending some.

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?