Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sunflower Crazy

 Yes, I'm a little obsessed with sunflowers.  But I don't like the ones on the giant stalks that have to be removed from the garden in the fall by using a chainsaw to take down the stems.  In recent years I've been growing a variety called "Ring of Fire" that grows about five feet tall and is a bit more manageable when it's time for the compost pile.

This year I planted a new variety that was touted as being a "bush" sunflower.  Apparently, some of the seeds didn't get the memo as the plants seem to be reaching for the clouds high above.

Here's a shot of the sunflower bed over and through a couple of other beds.  That's a bed of green beans in the foreground, then the hoop trellis of Scarlet Runner beans and then the bed of the new sunflowers.  Can you spot the very first blossom peeking out at you?

This is the first flower to open fully day before yesterday.  Last night I spotted three more almost open.

I love to bring in sunflowers where I can enjoy them even more than in the garden.  This flower from the "bush" (ha!) measures 8" across.

Gotta try new things, but next year I'm most likely going back to the "Ring of Fire" variety planted in the field garden.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Harvest Is On!

Many of you that garden have been harvesting for a while longer than I have, but now I'm truly in the midst of it.  Once the fruits of our labor (pun intended) start coming in, it seems there's not much time for anything else.

My latest mint harvest yielded five more cups of dried peppermint.  The bed now looks fairly sad, but I think it would start re-growing if it got a good dousing of moisture.  We're to the point where we need to haul out the sprinkling system again.

Yesterday was the "B" harvesting day.  Lots of beans and blueberries.  I put by fifteen more servings of a mix of yellow and green beans, and another one and three-quarter gallons of blueberries.  That puts me at my yearly quota of beans but we can never have enough blueberries!  Thankfully, there are still lots and lots of ripening berries on the bushes to be had.  That's another reason to get some water on the garden as there is no rain in the forecast for the next week.

All of our garden areas need a good clean-up effort.  There are those nasty weeds trying to get ahead of me that need to be pulled out by their tenacious roots.  The plants are all big and healthy to the point that they look more than a little blowsy and disheveled.  I need to do a trimming of all the vining crops so they will stop putting so much effort into growing another twelve inches each day and start working on developing the fruit.  At this point, it's not looking good for pumpkins and winter squash to have time to mature, but we'll keep the hope and wait to see how that goes.

We've been existing on meals that are thrown together with the bounty from the garden and whatever else I can add in a short period of time.  Lots of eggs appear at our meals; thankfully the chickens are laying well.

Right now, there doesn't seem to be the time for many of those every day, little necessary tasks like trimming my fingernails (they grow so fast . . . I think it must be nutrients from the soil because they're frequently grimy) or putting away clean laundry (hey, at least it is clean) or cleaning out and organizing the refrigerator (which is stuffed to the burping point with abundance from the garden that either needs to be eaten or preserved).

Yep, harvest time.  Wonderful, hectic, busy harvest time.  We work for it from early, early spring so as soon as I have a minute to sit (pant-pant) and think about it, I'll appreciate it all to the utmost!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Oh, The Bounty!

More preserving done yesterday.  Another bountiful picking of shell peas that are now tucked into the freezer to join the first ones put by a couple of days ago.

I also got another dehydrator full of mint processed.  Seems the mint isn't growing back as quickly (after I make a harvest) this year as it usually does so I'm not sure I'll reach the same quantity I got last year.  There's still a lot of growing and harvesting time left for it though so I won't panic yet.

I dump a couple of trays of the dried mint leaves onto a sheet of wax paper and use the heels of my hands to crush it up a bit.  Then it goes into 1/2 gallon jars with a canning lid for storage.

I'm fairly sure there will be a good quantity of beans to harvest and process today.  They're an easy vegetable for me to grow, pick and process, and I always have more than enough for a year's supply.  Yesterday I got word of someone whose beans didn't germinate this year and who would be happy to take any of my surplus.  If the crop this year is anything like it normally is I'll have an overflow amount to send her.  She also said she'll take any and all zucchinis I have.  What a deal!

These are my bush sunflowers, a new variety I tried this year.  Although I didn't get good germination from the seeds I planted, the plants surviving do look robust, although not as "bushy" as I had thought they would be.  I can hardly wait to see what the flowers look like.

So, so close to having slicing cukes big enough to harvest!

The green peppers are coming along nicely, too.

Our honey bees are working the pie pumpkin blossoms like . . . well, busy little bees this morning.

Okay, time for me to get on with the day.  "Tis the time of year when the garden can't be ignored, not even for a day.  And for that I'm very, very thankful!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Rolling in Clover?

Nope, it's going to be more like rolling in peas this year.

I harvested our first shell peas today and ended up with twelve servings.  (A serving is enough for the two of us at a meal.)  Yeah, I understand why many folks choose not to grow enough peas for a winter's supply.  It takes a whole big bunch of pods to yield enough peas for a plate.  But we both love them and they truly taste fresh-off-the-vine all winter long.

Considering I put up only eighteen servings of shell peas last year (for some reason my peas did not do well in 2019) and now I already have twelve servings in the freezer and there are scads more under-developed pods still out on the vines, I predict we will have more than enough of them to last us all winter.

I thought my yellow wax beans and green beans were ready to be picked, too, but I must not have looked very carefully as this is all I got today.  The bowlful is nearly all green ones with just a few yellow ones on top.  That's okay as I had plenty of peas to keep me more than busy.

But I'm sure the beans will start coming in like gangbusters shortly.  Then more peas for sure.  And I'm thinking there will be our second picking of blueberries ripe and ready tomorrow.  When the garden starts producing, it sure does keep the gardener hopping.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Heat and Humidity Equal . . . Garden Explosion!

Although the garden seems to love this hotter-than-usual summer weather we've been having, the human population  on our little acreage is wilting.  And getting close to melting.  And not sleeping well.  And trying hard not to complain (a lot), but it's a tad more than just uncomfortable.  Seemingly not so with the garden's growth.

In this jumbled mass, we have a zucchini plant in the middle and nasturtiums on either end.  (Yes, the grass does need mowing in a big way, but neither of us has gotten up the gumption to tackle that sweaty job.)

I do believe this zucchini was six inches long and an inch in diameter when I checked yesterday.  Which brings me to a short conversation Papa Pea and I had a day or so ago as I prepared to haul another batch of monster zucchinis to the compost pile.

I've tried out a couple new recipes recently (as I do every year) for preparing zucchini.  Time to face the music.  Neither of us particular enjoys zucchinis.  (There.  I've said it.)  And I have many sweet bread recipes we like better than Zucchini Bread.

This caused my dear husband to ask, "Is there a reason you have to grow zucchini every year?"

"Uh, no." I replied.  There you have it, folks.  I have planted my last zucchini.

These are yellow beans.  Still looking more on the green, unripe side but growing.

The green beans are not ready yet either but a little ahead of the yellow ones.

I had predicted the shell peas would be ready this past week, but they've still got a ways to go to show enough "plumpness."

The Scarlet Runner Beans are doing a courageous job of reaching the top of the mountain trellis. At least the ones on the left side are.  I had to replant all of them twice this cold spring so I'm giving any of them credit for getting this far along.

This is the patch of Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins.  So far, all I've found are little green, golf ball sized fruit.

The pumpkins may be teeny-tiny yet, but here's another view of the same patch which shows healthy vines heading out for parts unknown.

We've been fortunate in that we've been getting frequent rainfall now along with the heat and humidity.  It doesn't seem to cool things down much but has been great for the garden's growth.  It's all good.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Earth Laughs In Flowers

This delightful quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson always brings a smile to my face.

I'm usually fairly adept at growing vegetables; flowers not so much.  Nevertheless, I love having flowers in our house and bring in whatever nature (with some amateur help from moi) allows me to grow.

The dianthus blooms have never been as beautiful and plentiful before.  (Ooops, yes, that is an empty wine bottle in the background.  This heat and humidity is causing both occupants of this house to drink.)

This variety of gladioli has been blooming for a couple of weeks now.  (Karen, the ones you sent me a couple/few years ago just yesterday showed a first blossom of the year.  Yay!)

My old standby cosmos (even I can reliably grow them) have been wildly prolific this year, especially this "Rubenza" variety.

The last couple of years the bush zinnias haven't produced well for me, and I almost didn't start them this year.  Now I'm glad I did as they are full of blossoms and a gazillion buds.  This small vase of them is on the back of our toilet.  (Aren't you glad I shared that info?)

If, indeed, the earth does laugh in flowers, I say bring 'em on.  We need the flowers and the laughs this year.