Sunday, June 27, 2010

Garden Update

We've been so busy harvesting and shelling black-eyed peas (pink eye purple hulls, actually) picking tomatoes and okra, and watching the progress of the cantaloupes that I've not had time to update. Not to mention that work really hinders my computer time!

It's been hot, hot, HOT here in my neck of the woods for the past couple of weeks. We finally got about 1/4" of rain a couple of days ago. We're more than 5" behind in our rainfall for the year. I think it's going to take something big, like a hurricane to come ashore (unfortunately), to change the weather pattern. I'm so ready for cooler temps and rain and it's just the end of June! I'm usually not feeling this way until the middle to end of July.

The Contender bush beans gave up the ghost this past week. They were really starting to look stressed because of the temps, so on Wednesday, the husband and I harvested all the beans and then yanked out the plants.

We ended up with a mop bucket full of beans.
The partial harvest for the day of the beans.

Out of our bucket full of beans, we got 3 quart sized freezer bags full of cut green beans. I did blanch them for 3 mins in boiling water followed by 3 mins in a cold water bath before bagging and freezing.

The pink eye purple hull black eyed peas are going crazy! They are so loaded with pods it's not even funny. For the past week, we've been harvesting pods, shelling them, and then putting them in a freezer bag in the freezer. I'm cooking them TONIGHT!

Bloom and the first pods.

Green pods

Ripe pods (purple hulls)

Fresh shelled. See the pink eyes?

We have 2 mounds of cantaloupes. The first mound has already set 3 fruits. The largest fruit has started to develop its webbing, so it should be ripe and ready soon.

Still a bit on the green side, but you can see the webbing starting to form on the skin. Soon....

The second mound of cantaloupes is in an area that receives more shade than the first mound. Those plants have finally started running and sending out both male and female flowers. I saw a couple of potential melons this morning that look like they've been pollinated. Here's one of the potentials on my watch list.

Lastly, the watermelon patch is really filling in. I think there's some kind of fungus among us, so I'm researching that and trying to figure out what it is and how to treat it.

The watermelon patch before straw was put down.

First potential watermelon. It's teeny tiny, but located just to the right of the black edging between the two leaves.

That's it for today. Next time, I'll show off my cucumbers!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It seems like so much has been happening in the garden lately! I'm so tired of the hot temps already. We usually have these temps in July, not in June. We're also lacking precipitation. We're 5" behind on the rainfall totals for the year. However, there's good news in the garden! We've been harvesting for the past week or so.

Today's harvest of a handful of cherry tomatoes from our volunteer cherry tomato plants, a few okra that are now in the freezer, and a lemon cucumber.

The other night, I went out and picked about a pound of Contender bush beans, a few strawberries, and a couple of okra. This was our first harvest of beans and they were really tasty! Husband put the okra somewhere, supposedly in the freezer, but I've not found them yet! LOL

This is the first year I've grown lemon cucumbers. I didn't really know what to expect, but I thought I'd give them a try. I'm in love!! What a tasty little thing and perfect for just one or two people! It's about the size of a medium sized apple, grows green, and then turns a light shade of yellow and gets stripes from the top down when it's ripe. There are little spiny things on the outside of the skin, but if you use a vegetable scrubber on them, they'll come off. The skin is tasty and the inside is nice and crisp!

Here's the inside. It's so pretty, I think!

We pulled the garlic up on Sunday. It hadn't fallen over, but it was all brown and dead looking, so out it came. This is elephant garlic passed along to me from a gardening friend who's been growing and passing it along for about 20 years now. All I can say is that the fully mature bulb is HUGE! It's about the size of a softball.

Here's my haul. The smaller bulb on the left is a 2-year bulb. I'll let it cure, then plant it again in the fall. Next year at harvest time, it'll be the size of the larger bulbs on the right. The 2 bulbs on the right were grown from full size pods last fall. They are full size cloves of garlic. We'll use one of the bulbs for cooking and one of them we'll plant in late September-early October so we'll have more full-grown garlic bulbs next June.

If you'll look at the picture of the garlic on the right, you'll notice that the outer paper husk of the garlic is not there. That's because we waited too long to harvest. These cloves are still viable, but without the paper, they are more susceptible to disease and pests. We'll have to use these first. They need to dry for about a month where it's not too dry and out of the sun. We've brushed the dirt off them, but not used water on them. Right now, they're on my washing machine, but we'll soon hang them outside under the carport where they'll be out of the sun, but can take advantage of the warmth and high humidity.

These are the small bulbules that grow on the bottom of the larger bulb of garlic. These are 2-year pods and this is what we planted most of last fall. They have a very hard outer shell that takes awhile to break down and germinate. The smaller bulb in the previous picture is what was grown out of one of these bulbules. I need to clean these up, let them cure, then they'll be ready for sharing and planting!

Until next time, I'll leave you with a pic of one of my garden visitors.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today in the Garden

We have a lovely lemon cucumber growing.

The Contender bush beans are getting ready. They were flopped over, so the husband has been working today to get them "contained" in a more orderly fashioned.

The black-eyed peas have started blooming.

I spied my first couple of maters ripening...finally! Now I just need to keep them safe from the birds. Need to put up bird netting. Oh good! Something else to do outside in the heat.

Lastly, we released our first Black Swallowtail butterfly grown from a caterpillar this morning!

I have one caterpillar getting ready to pupate and form a chrysalis, 1 in the third instar stage and then I discovered 2 first instar stage cats this morning in one of my containers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Excitement in the Garden!

A couple of weeks ago, I found baby Black Swallowtail cats on our dill plants. They were teeny tiny, much smaller than they appear in these pics, and weird looking. I've never seen Black Swallowtail cats, so I had no idea what they were! Before I could rescue them, though, the wasps got them. I was so upset!

This morning, as I was coming back inside from my morning stroll through the garden and checking on the tomato cages DH has built, I found a Black Swallowtail cat that had evidently escaped or survived the wasp attack! Woohoo! I was so excited! I showed it to DH and told him, "We HAVE TO rescue this guy!"

The husband had an appointment and had to leave, so I found a wide-mouthed plastic gallon jug, cut the parsley and put the sprigs in some water in old medicine bottles, and put the guy in the jug. I cut some holes in the top for ventilation until we can get some screen mesh put on the top. I need to get a stick for the cat in case he wants to make his cocoon on it. Otherwise, he'll probably use the screen mesh.

He's currently residing on my washing machine, but I think he'll probably be moved back outside to a shady spot. Stay tuned for updates!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Flower's are a Bloomin'!

The front flower bed by our driveway is coming alive with color. In the past couple of days, I've added several new plants, which I'll profile later on at some point in time.

The gaillardia (Blanketflower) has come back in full force. I gave many of these away at the plant swap this past weekend and I've pulled some and put in the compost pile. There are many self-seeded plants in my flower bed as well.

This scabiosa daisy has really put on a show this year. I really wish this thing flowered all summer, but alas, it doesn't.

Phlox pilosa (Prairie phlox) was added last spring. It's a wonderful bloomer and the flowers have a very soft scent to them. It's most prevalent in the early morning and late evening hours when it's not so hot.

Here's a better pic of the little flowers that can range from pink to purple.

This Sweet William was also a new addition to the garden last year. It acted as a perennial last year, but I'm not sure if it really is. I absolutely LOVE the color and the long-lasting flowers. I hope to collect seeds from this to plant more next year. By the way, that's a Prairie Coreopsis sticking out from the middle of the plant!

The poppies have performed beautifully this year. I've pulled out several of the little ones that have already bloomed, but I'm waiting for the bigger ones to go to seed before pulling them.

The Brazos Penstemon is still blooming. It's gotten top heavy and some are laying down. The color is so pretty and the flowers are so dainty. Last year, when I didn't know what I was doing, I collected a seed pod. Threw the seeds into one of my winter sowing containers and they've sprouted! Now I'll need to transplant them to bigger containers and then plant them in the fall.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What's Going on in the Garden

Things are finally picking up in the veggie garden. We've finally gotten some steady warm weather and the veggies are thriving. I think I can safely say that spring is here and summer's on our doorstep.

This is the last radish of the ones I planted in March. I'm letting it go to seed. The radish itself is HUGE!

The broccoli is also going to seed. From the looks of it, I'm going to have TONS of seeds!

Both of the larger garlic plants have thrown up bloom stalks. I have cut them off so that the energy goes to the bulb and produces larger bulbs.

The companion planted bed is growing well. This bed has cucumbers, which you can't see well, onions, carrots, and volunteer tomatoes in it. We finally got it all mulched with oak leaves from our front yard.

Lookie what I found on one of the maters?!? How exciting is this?!?

I planted out my little orange bell peppers last week. Some are doing well and others have bit the dust.

The cukes have finally come up and are doing well. The squirrels kept digging up the little hills where I'd planted the seeds. Everyday I was having to stick seeds back down in the ground. It's one of the few times I wish I'd had a pea shooter or bb gun!

We have black-eyed peas! They only took 3 days to germinate and we didn't pre-soak them.

A few of the okra seeds have also started germinating.

The bush beans are also starting to germinate.

My lone jalapeno plant went into the ground last week, too. I traded 2 away at the plant swap and I'm giving 3 away to friends.

The dill is doing great! One of my plants has set a flower pod. I think this is called a "crown", but I'm not sure. I expect flowers soon and then some seeds! It's really been a nice plant and a wonderful scent to have in the garden this spring.

Lastly, I scored 3 blackberry bushes for my berry lovin' husband at the plant swap. One of the guys in the group was digging his berry bushes up to get rid of them, so I told him I'd take them They came with some young fruit. I know nothing about growing blackberries, so this is strictly the husband's project.