Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Notes from Home

No photos today, but notes so that I remember things for next year.

In the front garden:
Sedum and euphorbia are blooming, as is the two varieties of phlox, and the mums I planted last year (a bargain end-of-year plant!). The Early Girl tomato plant has three tomatoes still yet to ripen. The slugs are finally starting to eat the hostas, but I don't want to add more slug pellets... I noticed that they also kill worms, which I don't want to do. I'll have to try other things in the future, but at least I had hole-free hostas for a couple months!

In the side garden:
Roses are all black spotty but still producing new growth, both foliage and flowers that are lovely. I just leave 'em alone, though I do need to deadhead a bit. The fennel is flourishing, the gooseneck loosestrife has not yet taken over, and the clematis looks like it's on its last leg, but we'll see next year. The rose bush I planted from my dad has no leaves on it anymore and I wonder if it will survive. I'll give it until next spring and then decide whether to yank it or not. As ever, the mint is a bed hog but the oregano and rosemary and tarragon I planted are holding their own.

In the back shade garden:
It is hard for me to believe that I started out with what was basically a near-empty bed with some centaurea that wasn't really suited for the spot. It is now filled with pachysandra, foxglove, astilbe, lupin, scented geranium, Solomon's seal, and a few hostas (including my prized Pan-Am hosta). It's totally packed in, filled to the brim. I couldn't be prouder, really.

In the New Hampshire shade garden:
Seems I have a real green thumb for the shade gardens... this one is doing really well, too, except that I neglected weeding it for quite a while. I finally got in there last night for some quick and dirty weeding, and planted a couple new things, a little astilbe and a small variegated variety of hosta my mom gave me. The rest is just about all from my dad's gardens in New Hampshire (hence the name). Several varieties of hostas and ferns. There are also two violet plants: one that was already growing in the garden when we bought the house (though I moved it to its current location) and one that my aunt Dorothy gave me.

Next to the NH shade garden is a small watermelon patch (don't worry, it gets light!). Beyond that is the small plot we just carved out where the broccoli had been growing and where we planted carrot (Danvers) seeds that I got for like 50 cents at the local Rite-Aid, and an Italian greens mix of seeds I got from a seed exchange for free. It's kind of an experiment because we don't know whether we have enough time to grow anything from seed, but it never hurts to try, right?

Next to that are the strawberries, which are throwing runners like crazy and still blooming, and the one lonely black beauty eggplant that is finally making fruits!

Adjacent to that plot is the bed where where carefully mounded soil for some of our many varieties of peppers, plus more watermelon. Next to that is the asparagus bed, which now not only houses asparagus but two gigantor zucchini plants that seem to be hell-bent on taking over the world. We've already harvested at least a dozen squashes, with new ones literally popping up overnight what seems like every day. We've got two sugar baby watermelons growing quickly, now bigger than grapefruits!

Also in the backyard we've got potted tomato and pepper plants. The regular-sized varieties are just now starting to ripen, but the cherries have been edible now at a rate of several a day. If we're patient enough, we can save enough each day to make a tasty salsa once a week or so. Many of our tomatoes have problems with yellowing leaves and brown spots that I seriously don't think is late blight. C. is trying an Epsom salt solution, 1 tablespoon of salts to one gallon of water to water the soil with as well as spray on the leaves. It's seemed to help a little.

The rose of Sharon bushes have been in bloom for over a week now and are just beautiful. We have so many of them!

Overall, considering how much less time I'd been spending in the gardens in July and August, I'd say we're doing OK. I know we've both learned a lot and will be able to apply our new knowledge and skills to make our gardens even better next year, whether it is at our current house or somewhere new.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Picture is Worth...

Here are some photos to accompany yesterday's post somewhat.

I'll start out with a comparison shot of the veggie plot. This first photo was taken on July 30th.

And this photo was taken yesterday. Those squash and watermelon plants have totally taken over—I feel so bad for the asparagus, for whom the plot was dug for exclusively in the first place.

Oh, and the hibiscus I overwintered for my mom actually bloomed! I had another one, too, but gave up on it a couple months ago thinking there was no hope for it. I should have waited longer...

Finally, shots of what's producing!

Here we have tomatoes (I forget which type at the moment, but this is our best plant this year).

And a Black Beauty eggplant!

A pepper! (Again, I forget which type...)

My pride and joy, sugar baby watermelon. The fruit now is probably just larger than a golf ball, getting bigger seemingly by the hour. This photo was taken two days ago and it is already noticeably larger!

Total garden love.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Catching Up

Holy cow, is it really true that I have neglected this blog since the end of July? For shame!

To be honest, I haven't been the most dedicated gardener as of late. I've been busy with other things, not to mention we'd had a lot of rain until the other day. So it was hard to make time to tend to things the way I like to.

However, I'd like to announce that we are officially looking for our country veggie farm homestead with my mom. We want something with at least a couple acres, and a house that will allow us (C. and I) and my mom our privacy and ability to carry on our lives without getting in the way of the other's. All within a certain budget, of course. It's a rather tall order, but I feel that there must be something out there for us, if we are patient and diligent. Last night we had our first viewing of a house, and unfortunately, it was a real clunker. The setting was lovely, but the property hasn't been well-taken care of, enough to really turn us all off. Crossed off the list, what's next?

My mom is still thinking about trying to make her current home (the house I grew up in) work for our situation, but we'll see. It's going to be a long process, but hopefully successful in the end. Wish us luck!

In the meantime, the vegetable garden at our house is doing well. The squash is really just going crazy with a capital "c", as is the watermelon. The black beauty eggplant, which we only just now found out is late season, is finally producing fruit! (I planted it way too early, back in late April, if you recall.) The tomatoes are mostly looking rough-ish, but I think so far we have escaped Late Blight. Other stuff, maybe, but I don't think anything too serious. The plants are producing lots of fruit but things are still very slow to ripen, especially the regular tomatoes. The cherry varieties are coming in piecemeal; we've been able to make small batches of salsa here and there along with the peppers, which have been coming along fine for the most part.

The New Hampshire woodland garden, I am afraid, is a weedy mess at the moment. The other shade garden at the back of the house is flourishing and choking out most of the weeds. I don't really need to do anything with it, in fact!

The front garden is looking a little better than it had been. I was able to pull out the dead and dried-up stuff, which helped considerably. And now, things like stonecrop are really starting to fill out and get pretty. The purple coneflower keeps up, and the snapdragons and the centauria return again and again as long as I keep on top of the deadheading.

I'm not sure when I will have more time to play catch up, but I hope sometime before the end of the month! By then, it'll be time to start planning for next year. Our biggest plan includes expanding the veggie gardens in the back quite a lot... though who knows, by then we could be making much bigger plans!