Sunday, June 14, 2009

What a Wild Week!

We found another SVB in the zucchini earlier in the week. I look for frass on the stem of the plant during my daily inspection of the crops. Frass is "a sawdust-like substance made up of plant material and insect waste. Excreted by borers, it is a tell-tale sign of the presence of a pest in a tree, shrub, or other plant." (Definition compliments of Terry on Dave's Garden, This time, rather than yanking the plant out, my very dear husband, sliced the stem open, removed the borer, then closed the stem up with a piece of pantyhose tied to the incision site. The plant is looking great and we harvested our first zuke yesterday. Sweet!

See that yellow ooey gooey looking stuff? That's the frass.

Not exactly a pic of the zucchini plant, but it's there on the far left. This thing has really taken off in the past couple of weeks. It must love the hot temps we've been having.

Yesterday's harvest. That zucchini is really big! It's much bigger than any zucchini you'd find in the stores. I think I should make some zucchini bread with it since we're not big squash eaters here. I might end up taking it to my co-worker who loves zukes, though. We'll see!

This past Wednesday brought a powerful storm to our area. We had winds in excess of 40 mph, maybe even as high as 60 mph! The trellis on our small bed of pole beans blew over. DH went out during a break in the storm and propped it back up until he can make a more permanent support.
We lost a couple of pole bean plants and some bush bean plants. Losing the bush beans was tough. Some of them were loaded with buds and baby beans. While I'm thankful for the rain and thankful that we didn't suffer any damage to our home, pets or ourselves, it's disappointing to lose something that you've babied along and have been so looking forward to harvesting.
Some of the tops of the tomato plants got bent, too. They kinda look like they've got broken legs! I've clipped the tops off and stuck them in a bucket of water for the time being. I'm going to root them and plant them in the fall to have some more plants for fall harvest.
The zucchini that had the squash vine borer in it got blown around pretty good. We were afraid that we'd lose the plant to the harsh treatment of the wind since the plant was a bit delicate and recovering from surgery, but it survived. In this pic, it looks like it's been through a wind storm. We harvested the zuke on it yesterday.

Earlier in the week, I was on the hunt to find whatever pest left this evidence behind. If you can't figure it out, these are balls of poop from some little critter. I'm telling you, they were about the size of a pea, so whatever was chowing down on my peppers was pretty big. I diligently searched under the leaves, down the stems of the plant, and around the base, but I couldn't find anything.
The next morning, while doing my inspection of the gardens, I stumbled upon the culprit, a LARGE hornworm. Ewwww!! It was very well concealed on the underside of an eaten leaf. These things are like teenage boys. They're constantly hungry and eat all the time!!
Again, DH to the rescue! After proclaiming, "He's a big 'un!", he quickly discharged the pest to hornworm heaven.
Still, his damage has been done. Thankfully, the plant is okay, even if it looks a little nekkid. There's no harm done to the peppers, and the leaves should grow back. Tonight, I need to spray both the peppers and the tomatoes with Bt, an organic, good-bug friendly product that will kill the hornworms, but not destroy the plant, the good bugs, or the soil. I've been trying to do this for the past 3 nights, but rain has altered that course of action.

The jalapeno peppers have finally started setting fruit. Now we can start planning some serious Mexican cooking!! I'm thinking these would taste great as a topper on some nachos or on some homemade enchiladas. They'd even be great in some salsa or pico de gallo. This plant was just a wee seedling when I got it at the plant swap in early April. Now look at it. It's producing some great looking peppers!!

The two Sugar Baby watermelons we planted have started taking over the universe! Seriously, the vines have almost reached to the other end of the raised bed and that thing is 10' (that FEET) long!
Nestled amongst the twining vines going all over the yard, I found these three little babies.
In addition to these three babies, there's another one just down the vine from these. On the other side of the bed, there's at least one other baby and perhaps two. The first watermelon is still growing nice and fat and sweet. It's turned a very dark green, almost black. We're waiting for all the signs to show it's ready for harvest: a nice yellow spot on its underbelly and dry tendrils near the top of its stem. Maybe it'll ripen in time for 4th of July!

Also discovered in the garden this week:
Blooms on the pole beans. We should start harvesting in the coming weeks! I'm ready for some tasty green beans!
Another yellow squash. This guy got blown up into the bed with the strong winds the other night. He's resting peacefully near the edge of the bed and will be harvested today.
Our first burpless cuke. He's been growing steadily for the past couple of days. Not sure when he'll be ready to consume, so I need to do some research on that.

The flower beds didn't suffer the same damage as the vegetable beds, thank goodness! They actually have flourished under the bits of rain and cloud cover we've been having. The natives and the adapted plants are thriving in the hot temps we've had this past week.

My daylily 'Capernaum Cocktail' opened for the first time yesterday. Ain't she a beaut? Just a gorgeous color in the garden.

The Blanket Flower (gaillardia aristata) seeds I winter sowed are getting ready to bloom. I love these flowers and think every garden should have some!

My sole surviving Lemon Mint (aka horsemint or Monarda) has started blooming this week. I have a feeling this is going to be an invasive plant, but I love it anyway and will tolerate it spreading. Here, it's hiding behind the blue salvia and in front of the pink hummingbird sage. It's a very dainty flower head.
I know there are all kinds of colors of Monardas, but I'm a purist and love the original, old-fashioned variety.

I leave you with a pic of the girls watching me work out in the front yard and waiting for me to come back inside to feed them. It's all about the food with these two precious girls. The cat from outer space is my precious Callie and the other one not paying any attention to the camera is Hannah. Actually, I think she was paying attention to a bird in the yard, daydreaming of stalking him and pouncing on him for a delicious little treat.

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