Monday, September 5, 2016

Monday Harvest - It's Cantaloupe Time!

Happy Harvest Monday. This is an especially exciting Monday here because I was able to harvest my first ever cantaloupe. This year I started from seed 6 "Magnificenza" melons and they have been growing and setting melon all Summer. Although this one didn't exhibit the typical yellow rib color they are suppose to achieve when ripe, I picked it anyway. It slipped easily from the vine and my Dad pronounced it perfectly ripe and delicious. It weighted in at 2 lbs. 2.1 oz., a perfect single serving size.

I was also able to harvest 4 more "Lemon" cucumbers this weekend. I had been complaining that my plants weren't setting many cukes, but I have now harvested 12 and there are more to ripen in the next few weeks. This weeks bounty weighted in at 1 lbs. 8.2 oz.

Not surprisingly, my "Galina" yellow cherry tomato plant continues to pump out the fruit. It is my only plant this year not affected by blossom end rot, so it really is a superstar for me. This picking I gathered 167 tomatoes off of it, weighing in at 2 lbs. 6.2 oz.

A carton destined to make many co-workers happy tomorrow!

I really thought that all my other tomatoes had been ruined becasue of blossom end rot. But as I picked and discarded bad fruit today - and there was a lot of it! - I was pleasantly surprised to find a few that had dogged the bullet. I was able to glean 5 "Carmello" tomatoes, that weighted in at 9.4 oz.

Many of the other plants didn't fare as well, but I did get at least one good fruit off of them. From left to right; "Chef's Choice Orange" 3.0 oz., "Wapsipinicon Peach" 1.8 oz., and "Tang" 2.5 oz.

I was really happy as I dug deep in the "Black Krim" plant. The fruit are so dark that I hadn't noticed how many had ripened and very few of them had blossom end rot. So I was able to harvest 26 tomatoes that weighted a total of 2 lbs. 7.3 oz. All in all, considering my blossom end rot problem, I had a descent tomato harvest this week. It was much better than expected and gives me some hope for the next few weeks when the rest of the crop should ripen.

I have to end the post with a non-veggie harvest. I went down to flower garden tonight and picked a couple of bouquets. We are expecting some much needed rain tomorrow and I thought it would be good to do some picking before the rains arrived. On the left, a bouquet of "Crazy 4 Jessie" dahlias and on the right a small bouquet of "Persian Carpet" zinnias.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Welcome September

And just like that it is September. Suddenly dusk arrives at 8:30 PM here and the mornings require a light jacket. The sky is a crystal clear blue but the sun is lower and bathes everything in a lovely, golden light. This will be a busy month filled with harvesting the bounty and enjoying the last hurrah of Summer.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Portland Show

Today I got up at the ungodly hour of 4:00 AM and headed up to north to the Portland Dahlia Society Annual Show. This year, the show date and location was new. The show was moved up one week earlier from past years and the location was moved from Canby Oregon to Portland Oregon. The actual show site was Oaks Park in the Sellwood district of Portland. This lovely park is located right along the bank of the Willamette river. There are great views north to OHSU up on the hill and toward downtown Portland in the distance.

It was a gorgeous day and the river was busy with sailboats, crew teams, and kayaks.

I had an amazingly successful show. For the first time in 2 years I made it back onto the Head Table. I had three entries on the Head Table which is a record for me and I had my very first Best in Show in Portland!

My Best in Show flower was this single bloom entry of "Hollyhill Jitterbug". It was judged Best BB-sized bloom in show and then went on to win Best 1-Bloom Fully Double In Show. This is a new-to-me varoety and I only have one plant of it in the garden. It just began it's first flush. The ironic thing is this is the very last bloom that I picked for the show. And I only picked it becasue my sister talked me into taking one more walk around the garden Friday evening. Then I didn't have any vases for it so we carried it back to the house out of water!

But you can't keep a good bloom down apparently! I was really excited about this win. It was completely unexpected. I know the bloom looked good, but I thought it would be seen as a bit undersized and the stem was a bit too long for the bloom, proportionally. But the judges saw otherwise!

I also won best 1-Bloom Pom in Show with this perfect "Willo Violet".

thought I might have a chance at this award but I certainly wouldn't have been able to pick the variety. I entered 10 single pom entries and I thought many of them looked really good. But it was still a thrill to see one of my Poms on the Head Table.

My third Head Table winner was this 1-Bloom entry of the Orchette "Fancy Pants". Again I didn't have super high hopes for this bloom but I did think it would compete. After two days of 95 degree weather, I was certain that good, open centered dahlia blooms would be few and far between and I was right. All in all is was a great weekend for me and my blooms and a wonderful way to kick-off the dahlia show season.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Night before thew Portland Show

I took today off of work. It was my first full vacation day this year and was very much needed both physically and mentally. But I really took the day off to have a full day to prepare for the first dahlia show of the year. Normally, I have to rush home Friday night and then head right down to the garden to pick blooms. Then its a quick dinner and staging late into the evening. By taking today off I was able to pick my first group of blooms last night. The main reason I picked this early was the either. Thursday hit 95 degrees and today hit 94. Terrible weather to have right before a dahlia show. So I picked 1/2 of my blooms Thursday night, at least allowing them to miss one hot day under the sun. Then I went back early Friday morning and did anther round of cutting. I put all of the blooms in the shop, resting in vases on the floor. They stayed cool and shaded throughout the day. Around 5 Friday, Beth and I went down to the garden and watered everything. After watering she asked me if I needed anymore blooms so I did one more quick look around and picked a nice bloom of "Hollyhill Jitterbug". Back up at the house I began filling cans and vases with foam and water and staging the blooms. I ended up staging from 6 until 9:45! But I staged 22 entries which is a record for me.

At this point I always try to guess which blooms have the best potential to make it to the Head Table. I know I shouldn't "pre-judge" my blooms but I can't help it! So if I were guessing tonight I would say I have 3 blooms with a pretty good chance to go far.

I really like both of the orange "AC Shitake" blooms. They are free of all bug damage - which is HUGE after this hot, dry 2 weeks of weather - and they are rally nice mature blooms. Portland's show allows you to enter 2 blooms of the same variety, so I am going to enter both and let the judge's decide which of the two is better! I also like my "Tahoma Alicia" miniature ball and both of my two open center dahlias. While neither are perfect, the weather has been so hot that it is going to be hard for anyone to bring a good one. An d both of mine look pretty good, especially the "Kelsie Kristie".

Lastly I am happy with my poms. I have a bunch of really good looking ones and have staged 8 single entries and one triple. Part of winning is a numbers game and I have a lot of really good poms.

As  I was staging my blooms tonight, I suddenly noticed that the Western sky was putting on a pretty good show. We haven't had very many good sunsets this Summer, for whatever reason so I grabbed my camera to capture this pretty one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hummers in the Zinnias

My "Country Fair Blend" zinnias are really starting to branch out and put on a nice end-of -Summer show. They are planted right off of our back patio, protected by a make-shift but effective deer fence. Ever since they have begun to bloom, the zinnias have been frequently visited by our hummingbird population. Somehow they are able to pull out some nectar from the ring of pollen in the center of each zinnia. They zip in and out of the zinnias all day long, eating and fighting with one another as only hummingbirds can do! My sister captured this picture of Anna's Hummingbird feeding today. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Harvest Monday - A Golden Harvest

As I harvested and weighted this week's harvest, it dawned on me that much of the harvest reflected the fiery colors of Summer: yellows, oranges and reds. So I begin this week's recap with a bowl of yellow "Galina" cherry tomatoes. This is the third week I have harvested them and the biggest picking yet; 1 lb. 1.4 oz. They are such a reliable producer for me and their taste is a favorite of many of my co-workers.

My only other tomato harvest this week is one lonely "Wapsipinicon Peach". But it deserves some kudos becasue as I was harvesting, I noticed than many of my other tomato plants are suffering from blossom end rot. I have never has a problem with this disease before, with the rare exception of a single variety here or there. So I simply didn't grow that variety in future years. But today I discovered blossom end rot on four different plants. I know my watering has been steady so it must be a calcium deficiency in the soil. I will have to really amend the soil next year. So with that in mind, even though it isn't a super producer for me, "Wapsipinicon Peach" gets major point from me for being blossom end rot free. This guy came in at .9 oz.

And speaking of things that don't really grow well for me, its time to talk peppers! Each year I am seduced by the amazing selection of pepper plants being sold at the Farmer's Market and nurseries. And each year I purchase 3-4 plants, knowing that I never have much luck growing them but hope springs eternal each May. In my rational mind I know we just don't have the hot days and warm that peppers adore but I keep trying just the same. Not surprisingly, this year's results were no different. Four plants, each producing 2-4 peppers. Sigh. On the bright side, I did have a few little gems to harvest today. Left to right:
  • (1) "Padron" pepper ; 1.0 oz
  • (2) "Yellow Sparkler" peppers; 1.6 oz
  • (2) "Cute Stuff Gold" peppers; 1.7 oz

And to round out my yellow theme, I was able to pick 3 more "Lemon" cucumbers yesterday, weighing in a total of 1 lb 2.9 oz. It is suppose to be another very warm week here in the Willamette Valley, so ripening should continue at a good pace in both gardens.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Many More New Dahlia Blooms

It seems that each time I visit the Big Garden, I have 3 or 4 more dahlia varieties that are blooming for the first time. Tonight was no different. I do love the bold, red blooms "Asia", pictured above. This B-sized incurved cactus always reminds me of chrysanthemum blooms.

"Colwood Hope" a B-sized laciniated in white.

Here is one of my "oops!" dahlias this year. This Spring I purchased two tubers of a new white miniature ball called "Hollyhill Ms. White". As the plant grew I thought it was strange that the stalks were a deep red/purple color. This normally only happens on red or purple dahlias. Well, the first blooms have opened and you can clearly see I do not have "Hollyhill Ms. White". I called the hybridizer and sent him two pictures. He apologized and thinks I am growing "Hollyhill Margarita" an incurved cactus in dark pink. That looks about right!

My first bloom of  "Brian's Dream" a miniature size formal decorative in a light blend of white and pink. It has such perfect form.

My one plant of "Tahoma Alicia" is going to town! It is just covered in perfect blooms right now and branching out with future buds and blooms. I definitely want to grow a few more plants of this variety next year.

And this is a welcome site! My first bloom of "Pam Howden". If I could only grow a few dahlia plants, I most certainly would grow this one.

"FV's Dainty"  Pink and yellow

I am also excited about my Mignon Single plants. For the first time, I am growing this form not in pots but in the ground. I have a sweet little "hedge" of them, right along the rabbit fence. Unfortunately, before we discovered where the rabbits were getting through the fence, they found my Mignon plants and gave them a very healthy trimming! They have now recovered and are nicely branching out thanks to the bunnies trimming job. Soon they will be covered in sweet, little blooms

"Stillwater Plum" Purple

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Titus Bush Bean Update

I thought it was time to post an update on my row of "Titus" cannellini bush dry beans. I planted my 20 young starts in the Big Garden back on June 11th. They didn't miss a beat. And with my 2 1/2 foot rabbit fence surrounding the garden, I haven't suffered any rabbit damage this year.

The beans began blooming in mid-July and have been producing bean pods ever since. Some of the pods are getting quite big now and the plants continue to bloom and set more pods. I am encouraged by their growth and production up to this point. Now we just need a warm, most dry September to see the pods to maturity and harvest. I am excited to discover what size of harvest I manage off of only 20 plants and to taste this variety for the first time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

More Dahlia Blooms

A few more nice blooms down in the dahlia garden today. My four plants of "Eclipse" are looking great but I fear by the time the dahlia shows roll around in September they will be mostly done producing good blooms for the year.

"Bloomquist Dan G" a miniature ball in dark red

Another lovely bloom on my "Blyton Softer Gleam". This was my first dahlia to bloom in the whole garden this year and I think it to will be mostly done producing show quality blooms by the time the shows begin. That's too bad because I would love to get it in a show and see how it performs. I think that will have to wait until next year. Hopefully this cutting produces some good tubers.

A perfect bloom of "Tahoma Alicia", a miniature ball in dark pink.