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′:

Ridiculous.








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!

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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.

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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?








Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Bounty of A Rainy Spring


From commentor Gelfling545 (who, I believe, is in Maryland?):

Here are some photos from my little plot. All that spring rain was good for something. 😊

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Picked my first ripe tomato of the season — a fine Chocolate Amazon. For some reason, this year’s cherry tomatoes are lagging; usually they’re starting to ripen a week or ten days before the full-sized ones, but some of them aren’t even flowering yet!

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